Picture yourself stranded on a barren wasteland, nothing but panoramic horizons around you, the skies are bleak, clouds of thick smog make the air heavy and obscure one’s vision. This is a visual representation of the images conjured up by False Gods’ debut full-length No Symmetry…Only Disillusion, the title alone giving hint as to what to expect from the album.
Citing their main influences as Crowbar, Eyehategod and Godflesh as well as labelling themselves under the sludge / doom / stoner banner, it becomes all too easy to jump to conclusions as to what this band are going to sound like, and incorporate into their music. Wrong, False Gods manage to almost surpass all expectations and stray away from the usual conformities. No Symmetry… near enough avoids all stereotypical genre clichés with a distinct lack of bong references and quotes about satanic rituals from obscure horror films or video nasties. A somewhat ironic, breath of fresh air into the often smoky, occult-themed genre.
Right off the bat the album unleashes itself in a ferocious, audio assault in the guise of ‘Enemy Territory’. Vocalist Mick Stack’s distant wails and yelps are venomous beneath the layers of fuzz-laden guitars. This fast paced, “down-trodden hardcore” is a far cry from the band’s previous release, 2019’s The Serpent and The Ladder. The sludge and doom aspects are soon reigned in with a large tempo change that really hones in that crossover sound, reminiscent of bands such as Hang The Bastard or Black Breath.
Continuing onwards, ‘I Know Too Much’ has a similar dynamic, this time experimenting with elements of black metal and layered vocals, that still retain their attack whilst also providing plenty of melody. Think early Darkthrone meets Cult of Luna perhaps. Reeking of desperation and overflowing with atmosphere, ‘I Know Too Much’ stands out as it takes the bleak wasteland imagery and brings it inside. It’s hard to hear this track without imagining dark, sweaty performances in small venues or basements. To close out the song, a colossal guitar solo snakes its way through the fuzz, further cementing the diversity and musical talent on display here.
Whilst ‘I Know Too Much’ showed off much of the band’s musical abilities, ‘Stay Frosty’ and ‘All That’s Left Behind’ give way for Stack to really show off his vocal range. The former using some off-key “singing” that appears lower in the mix, possibly for atmosphere’s sake, and the latter explores a lot of lower, harsher gutturals. Both tracks also utilise the much slower tempos and chugging, marching riffs we’ve come to expect from a doom band.
Whilst the overall demeanour of the album is very similar overall, it can at times be hard to pick out distinctive moments, as many of the tracks blend into one another. Great for continuity but sometimes hard to work out exactly where one is during the listening experience. That said, this debut is an incredible effort in no way, lacks quality in any shape or form.
It’s evident that the album often has a dream like quality to it, one that can soon be turned into a nightmare at the ‘stroke of a riff’. Closing track ‘An Eternity of Failure’ is the prime example, it’s sparse, reverb-heavy guitars set the scene before distant vocals, drum fills and ambient riffs ebb and flow their way into pummeling crescendos, creating a real sense of despair and melancholy. A stand out moment on the record that ends, rather disappointingly, with a rather abrupt fade out, but as the old saying goes, “always leave them wanting more”, and No Symmetry…Only Disillusion does just that.
No Symmetry...Only Disillusion is out now via Seeing Red Records.