Monday, February 13, 2012

Great Falls - Fontanelle

     Let's start out with a little math: GF = PE - AG.  Is Great Falls really just Playing Enemy minus the considerable talents of Andrew Gormley, or are they something more?  On their first full length album, Fontanelle (Paradigms Recordings, 2011), Great Falls do their noisy best to shake off the Playing Enemy influence, but when it really comes down to it, the band is very similar to PE.  I'm not sure who the drummer is, but their sound is more abrasive than Gormley but with less flavor, technical proficiency and intensity.  I mean, come on, it's hard to top the drummer from Rorschach and Kiss it Goodbye.  Bassist/vocalist Shane Mehling's distorted sound is sort of like a metal garbage can dropped off the edge of a cliff (in a good way). He also screams his lungs out in blood curdling fashion to what seems to be the point of exhaustion.  Guitarist Demian Johnson ups the noise factor from previous PE releases to unlistenable thresholds.  It's hard to complain about this album though because this is my kind of band playing my kind of music.  They are not quite punk, metal, noise or hardcore; they are a unique and horrifying blend of these genres. 

     Most tracks are mid paced, and they're noisy, abrasive and punishing.  The whole album is a real downer.  If you're a bar tender and you want the crowd to clear out after last call, put this puppy on to get immediate results.  Who even plays music like this nowadays?  KEN mode, My America, Today is the Day, or maybe Narrows?  They're similar but not quite the same.  The stand out tracks for me came toward the end of the album: All Clean Necks and Neverwild.  I guess good things come to those who wait.  All Clean Necks has a catchy bass line with an awesome middle section with a disturbing slow bass drum beat.  It's sort of triumphant at the end as the pace begins to build and everything prepares to explode.  Neverwild is by far the most unique track on the album.  Featuring the filthy guest vocals of Ryan McKinney (Trap Them), the main riff is quickly paced and flirts with black metal. It's a disjointed and nasty track but connects at the end and comes home for the big win.   Enough praise cannot be bestowed on the artwork of Demian Johnston either. His work seamlessly blends simplicity, nature and realism, and has been a mainstay of all of PE and Great Falls' releases.  From being a musician in this band, an artist AND running a label (Dead Accents), Demian's creative streak is not unlike Aaron Turner of Isis fame.  Overall, this is a jarring release and should appeal to fans of quirky, off center extreme music.  Support this album now!

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