This week I’ve been highlighting some of my favorite labels and their recent submissions to the metal world, and we wrap that with the one piece I’ve been itching to write for some time now and finally can bring it to you.
Gilead Media doesn’t put out a ton of records each year. They’re about as DIY as it gets, and like a Profound Lore or a Flenser Recordings, you know you’re getting something that label head Adam Bartlett truly believes in and doesn’t just see as a cash grab. He puts what he makes back into running Gilead Media, and their products always look fantastic, sound even better and usually are packaged with extra goodies such as pins, patches, etc. That’s another major reason I never think twice when buying from the label because I know I’m getting my money’s worth. I also basically trust what they put out, and from a mere description of the band on Gilead’s site, I’ll purchase something I think will be up my alley. I actually did that with one of the albums we’ll discuss today. Gilead Media also is who introduced me to Thou, one of my absolute favorite bands whose frontman Bryan Funck also has a hand in the two bands you’ll read about below (they are joint releases with his Howling Mine label).
I’m going to start with FALSE, a black metal band from Minneapolis that was discovered when opening a show for Thou, whose members were utterly blown away by what they heard. When I first read that statement, I knew I had to hear this band immediately, and I was instantly aggravated when I couldn’t find a thing about them online. Nothing at all. It was by design, it turns out, and there was an effort to build an aura of mystery behind this amazing new find that is about to rip the lid off black metal and extreme music in general. I know this will sound hyperbolic, but whatever: FALSE is the most exciting new band I’ve heard this year, and perhaps the most riveting I’ve heard in a few years. In fact, Thou is the last band by which I remember feeling this utterly blown away, and immediately upon hearing their untitled debut, they spread through me like a fever.
I still know very little about FALSE other than what I detailed above, as well as that they’re a female-fronted band, and that they’re utterly, violently relentless. For anyone out there who thinks black metal’s gotten too safe, too sanitized, you’ll find that FALSE agree with you and are doing something drastic about it. This two-track album, that runs about 25 minutes, is the freshest, most exciting explosion of chaos you’re bound to hear in 2011. The band, from the moment first track “The Key of Passive Suffering” starts, goes right for your throat, with claws and teeth exposed for the kill. Their singer warns of an era of “brother against brother, sister against sister” in the first section of this song, before moving on to a mesmerizing passage that sounds inspired by Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” era, especially with the thick fog of synth. The cut explodes again minutes later with an accusation of, “hell is what you reap, hell is what you sow,” and eventually rumbles to its cataclysmic conclusion. “Sleepmaker” is built on the same philosophy and ideas, rich with ripping riffs, rich keys, and even some piano trinkling later that teases a sense of calm amid a suffocating cloud of smoke.
I cannot say enough good things about this band. It would be impossible to highly recommend this record and band any more than I have right here, and if you have the money and want to hear something that may alter your life, by all means buy this thing. This band revives my hope in the future of black metal, and I cannot wait to hear what FALSE come up with next. This is the future, and those coming years will be awash in Armageddon and total, unstoppable chaos.
We move now to Barghest, a four-piece black metal band from Louisiana, who might remind you of the glory days of Darkthrone, Burzum and Mayhem. I mentioned earlier about a band whose record I bought before hearing even a note of music, and this would be that band. I got a download from Gilead Media not long afterward, and after hearing the music, I didn’t regret my purchase in the slightest. Now that I have the vinyl in my possession and have had time to spin it many times, I get more and more intoxicated by this thing with each listen. It should be noted, if you have the cassette version of this album, the songs have since been re-mastered and do have a bit of a different sound.
The record tears open with “Mourning” and its raw, primitive riffing, a death bell, and an eruption of beastly black metal that sounds lo-fi and grimy as hell, and that leads the way for “The Rite of Isolation,” a song that rides on tidal waves of melodic runs by guitarists Matthew Thudium and Jason Thorning, as drummer Terry Gulino keeps a frantic pace and frontman Dallas Smith howls away like he’ll have no future use for his voice beyond this recording. “Pain of Days” is both surging and vicious, with Smith’s vocals taking on more of a guttural death growl instead of a banshee-like shriek; “A Gray Vision” has a bit of an old-school punk feel to it, as some thrash also is thrown into the mix; while closer “Reduced to Ashes” is machine gun-like in its delivery, eventually paving the way for a section where the guitar work becomes almost hypnotic in its assault.
Certainly fans of the second wave of Nordic black metal could find themselves moved by Barghest, but even those who were into then tired of the current black metal crop could find salvation here like they will with FALSE. The band is unrepentant and devastating, sometimes blindingly fast, but always honest and passionate. This is a bad ass album, one that sounds way better on vinyl, and one that might make you consider that corpse paint all over again, if only for the spiritual connection.
Gilead Media has plenty of other bands worth your while, from more metallic entries such as Northless, Krallice, and Fell Voices, to groups that lean more toward punk and hardcore such as Arms Aloft, Get Rad and mewithoutyou. Check the Gilead label link below to find out more, and go spend some damn money.
For more on FALSE, well, you’re kind of screwed. But you can see them live. Those dates will appear at the end.
For more on Barghest, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Barghest/114603505268187?sk=info
For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/
To buy the new records from Barghest or FALSE, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/
To read an interview with Adam Bartlett, go here: http://www.cvltnation.com/a-conversation-with-gilead-media/
For more on Howling Mine, go here: http://noladiy.org/howlingmine.html
FALSE on tour:
8/1 – IOWA CITY, IA – APHQ
8/2 – ST. LOUIS, MO – THE HEAVY ANCHOR
8/3 – COLUMBIA, MO – HAIRHOLE COLLECTIVE
8/4 – DALLAS, TX – THE PHOENIX PROJECT
8/5 – SAN ANTONIO – THE A&A DRIVE-INN
8/6 – HOUSTON, TX – THE DEATHSTAR
8/7 – BATON ROUGE, LA – PERKINS PARLOUR W/ THOU
8/8 – NEW ORLEANS, LA – NOWE MIASTO W/ THOU
8/9 – BIRMINGHAM, AL – THE FIREHOUSE
8/10 – NASHVILLE, TN – THE LITTLE HAMILTON
8/11 – LOUISVILLE, KY – THE 3RD STREET DIVE
8/12 – BLOOMINGTON, IN – RUSSIAN RECORDING STUDIO
8/13 – CHICAGO, IL – THE VOID
8/14 – MILWAUKEE, WI – THE IRISH KNOT