FTF continue to adapt, fight and survive on ‘Die Miserable’

A good friend of mine doesn’t understand why bands select names that often are unprintable in many publications, potentially limit their career possibilities and could get younger fans slapped in the mouth if they even utter the group’s moniker. And I understand where this person is coming from, and that line of thinking does make some sense. Except for one thing: Topping the Billboard charts and selling out hockey arenas isn’t everyone’s primary goal. Sometimes there’s a little bit more to what a band does.

But having what is, in some people’s minds, a questionable name doesn’t have to limit one’s success. It all depends on what the person creating the art considers a success, and not every band can have the No. 1 record in the country. Some bands and their members find it more important to maintain their integrity, do whatever they want, and be able to sleep at night knowing they called their own shots and made the statements they find important to them. Fuck the Facts always have come across as one of those bands whose art comes before any monetary reward, and while I’m sure if one of their records exploded and dominated the sales charts in any country they wouldn’t curse such success, they likely won’t tweak any parts of their machine to do so.

Having stuck it out for more than a decade and created a comprehensive discography that’s intimidating to try to compile in its entirety at home if you’re a fan, Ottawa grinders Fuck the Facts already are a major success story. They may not be the biggest name on Relapse and they might not play your town’s largest club, but they’re survivors and road warriors, and with each release, they just get better. Their ninth album “Die Miserable” is about to drop, their first full-length since 2008’s “Disgorge Mexico” (they’ve offered up countless other mini releases in the meantime, it should be noted), and the results are nothing short of totally impressive. I’m blown away by this band once again.

Something I’ve always admired and appreciated about FTF’s music is that, while it’s grindcore at heart, there’s so much more going on besides that. Yes, you’re going to get demolished, there’s no question, but that’s not all they do. On “Die Miserable,” you clearly can pick out pieces that sound like thrash, black metal, punk, and even classic rock. Now, that’s musically speaking. Vocally, Mel Mongeon unleashes a savage, relentless attack that refuses to release its grip on your throat. Oh, and that thing locked around your throat that’s drawing blood and robbing you of precious oxygen? That’s her mouth. She’s one of best, most unforgiving vocalists in metal, and she brings it even harder live. She drops the hammer over and over again on “Die Miserable,” only changing paces during the closer “95,” when she speaks in French over the conclusion.

The album rips open on “Drift,” a song that splatters all over you with grind and mathcore DNA, and that leads right into the waiting clutches of “Cold Hearted,” where guitarists Topon Das (FTF originally was his solo project) and Johnny Ibay bring the thrash and jangly noise. “Lifeless” has more of a hardcore feel, and the chugging gets your blood flowing and that feeling of wanting to destroy lawn furniture in front of your neighbors moving to the front of your mind. “Census Blank” is a bit more atmospheric after its steamrolling opening, with Mongeon using more guttural tones in spots, and the rest of the band settles into some post-rock fog and that aforementioned classic rock thunder when they’re not in volcanic mode. “Alone” initially takes things down a notch, with a clean intro that includes some quiet piano, but it’s a red herring as the song eventually detonates into a pipe bomb with a keen sense of melody. The title cut and “A Cowards Existence” are awash in fury, while closer “95” has a punk rock vibe, soaring lead guitar lines, and a doomy, post-rock finish.

Just about every time I’ve taken on “Die Miserable,” I’ve hit repeat when the whole thing ended. That’s tough to do for me since I have so much music to sift through each week in order to drum up coherent, hopefully relevant thoughts. But this record has claimed me, and I’ve listened to it dozens of times since it arrived digitally a few weeks ago. That shouldn’t be a huge surprise, though, as I always found myself doing that same thing with their other releases. I’ve also found this is excellent treadmill music, because it has the proper peaks and valleys for warm up and cool down moments. Can’t believe I just wrote that.

“Die Miserable” is another in a long line of success stories for a band who might have too vulgar a name for a magazine cover, a T-shirt you wear to the grocery store, or a topic of interest you drop into conversation when talking to your mother on the phone. But my guess is a decade from now, when everything that’s so relevant to pop culture now is relegated to VH-1 talking head shows, that Fuck the Facts still will be mauling audiences somewhere. Someone will be seeing this band somewhere and going home exhausted. So what is success when music and pop culture is so disposable? Fuck the Facts have shown time and again they aren’t a flash-in-the-pan commodity that’s here today, gone tomorrow, and “Die Miserable” is another entry on a laundry list of proof of that … fact.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/FuckTheFacts

To buy “Die Miserable,” go here: http://www.relapse.com/die-miserable.html

Or go here: http://fuckthefacts.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/