Label: Gilead Media
Genre: Black Metal
Release Date: July 12th, 2019
Since its conception in Europe decades ago, black metal has spread across the planet like a fire across a gasoline-soaked church, with bands springing up all over the world, including the United States. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the band False appeared on the scene in the early 2010s.
False’s second full-length album, Portent, runs a little over forty minutes long. The album is composed of four tracks with three being full length songs and the last being a minute-and-a-half long outro. Portent features the typical sounds and instruments that you expect to find in so-called post-black metal albums. There are the blast beats, distorted guitars, and harsh vocals, though they never sound as raw and unpolished as those found in the second wave Norwegian style of black metal. When listening to this album, I was under the impression that the vocals were performed by a male due to the relatively lower pitch, but the credits indicate that it is “Rachel” performing them, so I guess the vocalist is female. Other than that the vocals on Portent are not especially distinct from your usual black metal rasps/screams. As with harsh vocals in general Rachel’s lyrics are hard to decipher through ear alone, but I got the impression that in many places, she was not actually singing lyrics, but rather simply flexing her vocal cords like she was practicing how to scream. Interestingly, this made the vocals feel like they were much more integrated into the instruments, almost as if they are just another instrument in the chaotic fray. As for the instruments themselves, they consist mostly of an atmospheric onslaught of distorted, tremolo-picked guitar melodies flanking fast-paced blast beats. The opening track A Victual to Our Dead Selves kicks off with an ominous ambient hum from an instrument that I can’t really identify (probably some kind of keyboard or synth) and is soon ‘roided up with the aid of drums and guitars. In contrast, the second track Rime on the Song of Returning starts immediately with the drum-and-guitar combo. The tempo changes in the middle of the song accompanied with the stripping down of the instruments and picks back up and slows down again a few times, with the track ending in a slower tempo and fading out. The third song The Serpent Sting, the Smell of Goat starts off slow and sparse and (as you probably guessed) picks up the pace and some sonic density. As with the previous track, tempo changes are featured here and towards the end the track begins to fade with a piano melody. This is a good transition to the outro, conveniently named Postlude so that the reader of the tracklist will know that this is indeed a postlude and not a prelude. Postlude is a slow and somber piano track similar to the end of Serpent that closes off the album beautifully.
Overall, Portent is a decent album. It checks off all the boxes that you could want from a post-black metal album, but doesn’t really offer much beyond that. False doesn’t try anything that hasn’t already been tried by countless other black metal bands before them. They instead stick to a safe but solid formula that will please the ears of most black metal fans, but doesn’t really tease them with a taste of anything unique. Nevertheless, I did enjoy listening to the album and would recommend it to black metal fans just looking for something familiar.
- A Victual to Our Dead Selves
- Rime on the Song of Returning
- The Serpent Sting, the Smell of Goat
Total Playing Time: 41:16