Great Falls deliver driving kick to the face, force you to seek motivation with ‘A Sense of Rest’

This year’s already off to a weird start. “Mean” Gene Okerlund died. If that wasn’t a big enough kick to the nether regions, the first week of 2019 has been challenging mentally and physically, and the shit we thought we buried in the center of 2018’s corpse have risen again, only more putrid. I need a swift shot to the jaw to get things moving in the right direction, otherwise I’m sleeping this one off.

Luckily, that stiff punch may actually have arrived late last year in the form of Great Falls’ latest LP “A Sense of Rest.” OK, I know it sounds strange that I’m calling a record titled “A Sense of Rest” as one to act as a boost but hear me out. These veteran post-hardcore noise purveyors aren’t exactly lulling you to sleep with these muscular eight new tracks and, if anything, they’re here knocking on your back door to ensure you’re not resting peacefully and instead are on your feet doing something about your shit. We’re getting to this a little late because almost all of December is devoted to a year recap, so new music kind of fell by the wayside for a bit. But we were well aware of Great Falls and always had plans to get to this one, so here we are. The band—guitarist/vocalist Demian Johnson, bassist Shane Mehling, and drummer Phil Petrocelli—plied their trades with notable other bands such as Undertow, Playing Enemy, Kiss It Goodbye, and Jesu, and released their first album “Accidents Grotesque” in 2013, followed by “The Fever Shed” in 2015. Now on “A Sense of Rest,” they continue to up the ante on their frustration and aggravation, giving you, the listener, a partner with whom to have a bloodletting.

“The Accelerationist” kicks off the record with tricky, punchy playing before Johnson’s harsh yelps come into the picture. The track bludgeons you, slicing through bone, as screams land behind the wall of punishment, halting briefly before static-filled drums bring us back in. Everything spills back in, with jerky playing, wild howls, and a spiral out into madness. “Not-for-Sale Bodies” opens clean before sludgy mashing is upon us, and wild shouts uncoil and push into battle. The track hits hard, slowing its pace to ensure maximum force per blow, before things are torn apart by a noise pit, boiling and scraping flesh before finishing out. “Kettle Logic” starts faster, with drums killing and speedy riffs barreling into your chest. The vocals are unhinged, as you’re smothered beneath the song’s weight, while chaos is afoot, and the track comes to a mangling end. “We Speak in Lowercase” is the longest track, running 14:30 and starting with alien soundscapes before the track fully blossoms. “With my head straight, let’s start again!” Johnson calls, as the track builds toward choppier waters and a doomier presence. Noise spirals, the riffs kick up, and Johnson cries, “Go on, say it! Apologize!” That takes us into a cataclysmic fury, dropping heaviness that continues until the track bleeds into silence.

“Thousands Every Hour” has noise aggravating, rising into squalls, and then the body of the song kicking in and bloodying lips. “Let’s talk this through!” Johnson pleads, while shrieks and pummeling sounds surround you and deliver damage, bringing the track to a bloody end. “Baldessari Height” has dark, wooly riffs that crawl in the dark, while Johnson’s vocals blow holes in walls, and then the track trickles with colder waters. This goes into slowly delivered hell, as the song chunks away, vocals screech, and everything soaks in a horrifying noise bath. “I Go to Glory” delivers kicks to the jaw, thrashing wildly before pulling back and letting the guitar work pulsate. The intensity then picks back up, and Johnson howls, “Run!” giving off steam and flowing right into closer “Scratched Off the Canvas” and its slurry front end. The pace is numbing as noise unfurls, the bass trudges, and Johnson belts, “Wake up! It doesn’t matter to me!” The song corrodes, gushing and shedding metal shards, as melodies dizzy before the song spins out in a hypnotic wave.

If you’re not too aware of Great Falls yet but dig bands such as Buildings or Kowloon Walled City, definitely try “A Sense of Rest” on for size. These are meaty, punishing diatribes that don’t relent on the audio violence and will make you feel all purple and sore when it’s all over. This isn’t music for someone who wants to relax, despite its title. This is for confronting demons head on and making them submit to your unrelenting will.

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