There’s no mystery left in our world anymore. You have the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle to thank for that. A dictator or terrorist leader is killed, and we want to see the body. Now. A high-priced athlete signs with our favorite team, and we want to know how much he’s making. Now. A soon-to-be-princess is going to wed and we want to know exactly what she’s wearing. Now. More on the topic of today’s entry, a highly anticipated album is going to be in stores and digital outlets in weeks, but we need the music and the art. NOW.
We live in a society where an e-mail that bounces back infuriates us, where a failed text message ruins our day, where a dropped cell phone call leads us to threaten our service providers with cancelation. We’re spoiled. Louis CK does a fantastic rant about this topic, so look it up. We can’t wait anymore. We can’t have any level of mystery. We need to know everything right now. And if we can’t, it’s just unacceptable. This is why the band FALSE intrigued me from the start. I recall asking some fairly benign questions about the band to Gilead Media, and by the band’s request for secrecy, they could not be answered. That fascinated me. It didn’t make me angry, it didn’t cause me to lash out, it made me sit on the edge of my seat until that magical digital promo arrived of the Minnesota band’s debut untitled effort. The fact I knew from which state they hailed was a really big deal. Here I am almost six months later, and I still know very little about the band. And I love it. I think some of this harkens back to my youth when I’d go into a record store looking for the latest album from a band and not having any clue what it looked like. Seeing it for the first time? Fireworks! I remember that exact experience with Metallica’s “…And Justice for All.”
Of course, all FALSE’s shadowy moves aside, the music is what ultimately would matter most, and if it failed to be massive, then their efforts would be moot. The music was earth-moving, life-changing, genre-crushing. From my first experience listening to the two cuts that make up this effort, I realized I had discovered a band that was not like any others. Yes, they had tenets of early Nordic black metal, some power metal, some death, but it was the way they put the whole thing together. It is an album that, no matter how many times I hear it, I discover something new about it. One of the first qualities about their music that really grabbed me is how they use mystical sounding keyboard in the mix of their chaos. It shimmers and sinks into the puzzle, and it reminds me a lot of how Iron Maiden used keys on “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.” I know that record gets bashed, but I positively love it. It’s one of my favorite Maiden records, and to hear some of that in FALSE, whether it was intentional or not, sent my heart ablaze. The simmering guitar work, the adventurous leads, the nicely sectioned movements in their epics, and the blood-thirsty banshee cries and growls of leading lady Rachel all make the package the most devastating and moving of 2011. This is the best, most promising band in all of domestic black metal, and their reign has only just begun.
Whether FALSE decide to remove the shroud at some point and let people inside the machine, there’s no saying. There are photos of the band playing live out there, but they still tell you very little about the band. In fact, the group looks so damn normal that it just feeds into the mystery behind their hellacious chaos. It’s scarier when folks who aren’t adorned in corpse paint and spikes make something this vitriolic and come up with scenarios such as, “Promises of a throne/a battle rages/brother against brother, sister against sister,” like some real-life “Game of Thrones,” and deduce, “Hell is what we have sown, and hell is what we shall reap.” Of course, then they prod the sun god Khepera, the warrior goddess Sekhmet and other Egyptian deities on “Sleepmaker,” a gut-ripping revenge tale, so they also tab violence throughout the ages. OK, I need to stop. I could talk all day about this album, and that is another reason this is, hands down, my favorite album of 2011. It has rewarded me so richly and continues to do so every day. I am in sick love with this band, and I feel like I’d capture people, hold them for ransom and slit throats if I had to in order to keep FALSE’s secrets. I’ve not been this affected by a band in a long time, and it’s great to feel this way about someone’s art. Even if I know little to nothing about the actual creators.
Although the members of FALSE have chosen to maintain their silence, we decided to try to get them answer questions anyway. It failed! And we respect their position and admire a band that wants to maintain their mystery. I know I’m not the first person who tried to get them to speak. So we asked Adam Bartlett owner of Gilead Media, who put out FALSE’s album in conjunction with Howling Mine, to discuss the record, its importance to him and what he knows about what the band has planned in 2012. I remember realizing when first reading his responses that, the way he said he felt about the music was the same way I did when I first heard it. We thank him for giving his unique perspective on this band and for making possible Meat Mead Metal’s favorite record of 2011.
Meat Mead Metal: We’re naming FALSE’s unnamed debut our No. 1 record of the year. It seems the record was well received and got people talking about the band. Are you happy with how this album was received by the public?
Adam Bartlett: Absolutely! Particularly for a band that many people haven’t heard, or even heard of, there was a great response. It feels great any time a band’s debut recording is so warmly accepted.
MMM: How has this release affected you both personally and professionally?
AB: Personally? Well, that’s one of my favorite records now, has been since earlier in 2011 when I first heard it. The people in that band are a great group of individuals and the way they write sounds so passionate when I listen to it. They have an element I hear very rarely in music. Professionally? Not much changes there. I do everything I can for all of my bands because I believe entirely in every record I release.
MMM: What led you to discover the band, and what about them made you want to work with them?
AB: Bryan (Funck, also of Thou) from Howling Mine turned me onto them. Saw a show of theirs and was entirely blown away. He and our friend Andy had nothing but great things to say. Bryan asked me to put out the record with him and I agreed, contingent upon finally hearing the recordings when they were done. Turns out my other friend Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recording was set to mix and master the album, too. I knew I would be in for a treat… and was I ever. That was one of the most shocking first listens I’ve ever had.
MMM: FALSE did something very different that most bands don’t these days — they shrouded themselves in mystery, not actively releasing band member info, doing promo shots, interviews. How do you feel about their approach? Do you think the aura of mystery helps the band?
AB: I really like the way FALSE chose to do things. People gave me some crap for the way I represented them while promoting the record, but I am certain to only represent bands the way they want to be. It’s a long series of questions I ask and materials I request. They ultimately decide how they want their image portrayed during promotion, and as long as I think that makes sense for the record, I respect that. There were many requests for interviews that I had to respectfully turn down. In a couple cases that resulted in less coverage by the potential interviewers, but the band was adamant that the music speak for itself. Especially when we’re talking this early in their life as a band. I certainly think it helped build interest. These days, with Google and a download blog just a click away… with Metal Archives, people are so used to the immediate availability of all the information they could possibly want, streaming audio or downloads, band history, photos and videos… we’re so accustom to having immediate access to all these things. FALSE really captured the attention of a lot of people by denying listeners the immediate availability of any information until a time of our own choosing.
MMM: For those who have yet to see the band live, how would you describe the experience?
AB: It’s hard to put into words. It’s an experience, that’s for certain. There’s not much more I can say beyond that. It’s a very focused and captivating experience. The songs on the 12” resonate very deeply with me, so experiencing that live, for me, is very powerful. There are parts of those songs… I only listen to them alone, because I feel like I’m not grasping the full scope of what that song is truly achieving.
MMM: Does Gilead Media have plans to work with FALSE in the future, and if so, what details can you give our readers?
AB: I will be working with them on at least one project in 2012, but the details on that will remain confidential until we’re ready to move forward. We’ve withheld so much from you already, why do you think we would just feed you the juicy stuff now?! I will say, though, people are going to be very excited about that release. It’s going to be one of those records where, when you see the announcement about it, you’re going to think you misread it.
For more on the band, go here (it’s the best we can do): http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/False/3540332204
To buy the album, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/