Maybe the hottest day of the year and bright sunshine is not the best time to fully appreciate scathing black metal, but such is my dedication that I sat down in the 34 degrees heatwave and pressed play on False’s latest opus, ‘Portent’.
The album opens at a blistering pace with ‘A Victual to Our Dead Selves’. At just under 11 minutes this is the shortest of the three full tracks on the release and during that time it never lets up in intensity. Sweeping melodies wrestle with Rachel’s vitriolic vocals for supremacy as the song dynamics swing back and forth creating epic soundscapes. Despite its length, the song does not get boring or feel overly long, instead it draws you in and becomes fully immersive.
The momentum is kept up with ‘Rime on the Song of Returning’ which clocks in at almost thirteen minutes but manages to remain relevant and interesting. Once more harmonies resonate throughout the pummelling and incisive riffs and rasping vocals setting up a dense oppressive atmosphere. Keyboards offer subtle symphonic brush strokes augmenting but not disturbing the intensity as the track evolves to its climax
The final full-length track ‘The Serpent Sting, the Smell of Goat’ starts at a much slower pace than the two preceding tracks, creating an unsettling, sombre air of calm. The weighty tomes however soon develop into a more claustrophobic atmosphere as it gradually builds and over the course of sixteen minutes the pace picks up. It continues to ebb and flow in terms of dynamics, but once established the intensity does not settle until the track fades out to a brief acoustic outro, at which point it really does feel as though a weight has been lifted. The album is closed with ‘Postlude’, a brief instrumental reflective passage that works well giving an air of finality to the album.
It is clear that the Minneapolis act have built on previous release truly honing their art and this is an absolute colossal black metal release, it is an opulent beast and highly recommended.
(8/10 Andy Pountney)