14 Sep 2023 - Knut
Sludge Metal | Noise | Neurot Recordings | Release date: 15 Sep 2023 | Favorite song: Thrown Against The Waves
We know Great Falls as an uncompromising, in-your-face slightly unhinged, and sometimes a bit confrontational heavy Stoner/Sludge/Noise band. On this release, more than ever, it is raw and naked. It is a break-up album far from the sugar-coated Disney-esque break-up albums of pop artists. It is the opposite and therefore far more honest and emotive.
Great Falls demand quite a lot of the listener, but they surely demand a lot of themselves with their breakneck approach to the genre as well. The music is turbulent, to say the least, and the musicians go all in. The often unexpected and unpredictable drumming is so energetic it leaves you dumbfounded. The low-end bass is equally breathtaking and the distorted guitar swirls in each and every direction. Plus the desperate angst-filled screams from the vocalists top it off. Hmm, it seems like I describe a tumultuous mess. Might be, but it is a blissful mess with a clear message embedded in it. There has always been that, and there is on this album too. Might be more so, even.
So. This is a break-up album. The relationship with the partner has come to an end, a home is split up, the kids are confused, the assets have to be split and one has to communicate at some level. Just reading the lyrics it becomes evident that this is extremely personal, even private - you might feel like a voyeur looking in. At the same time, the lyrics are wonderfully written, displaying acceptance, sharing no guilt, and showing affection and understanding for the separated partner. What makes this album an example of true art, is that the music shows the personal howls of naked confusion that go on behind the façade of the album´s protagonist. Just look at the song titles and you get a whiff of that. And listen to the music that takes you far into this bewilderment.
At the beginning of the first song, ”Dragged Home Alive”, there is some faint street noise and a door is slammed shut hard. Someone is on their own after many years of living together. The music starts with an unhurried strumming guitar and distant naked raw screaming vocals. Then the fast tumbling bass begins followed by the impulsive and diverse drumming. The bass holds the speed while the drums fly all over. The vocal screams, and sound effects from the guitar seep into the layers. The music penetrates flesh and bone and goes into the marrow. Dense crushing riffs from the guitar carry the ever-screaming desperate vocals which are answered by a second, equally screaming vocal. The three instruments gather in a heavy flow of dense music. Vocals answer each other as the noisy Sludge Stoner Metal music meets in a kind of desperate and fast crescendo. It is interrupted by the strumming guitar once more, but this time with the relief of a light voice. The sludgey onslaught surges back with the screaming howls of naked frustration and confusion: ”Fresh Excuses / To avoid my fear».
The tense music continues with the next song ”Trap Feeding”, wild and ferocious screaming through the untamed music: ”I spend my day / Searching for homes / And I can be / Alone for real”. This uncompromising track is not a crowd-pleaser. For the uninitiated, it might be a bit exhausting already at the second track with the Noise and Stoner/Sludge approach. But hey, this is the sixth Great Falls full-length - it must be like this, they never flinch. It is extremely engaging as the wild drumming and bass race after the distorted guitar and the vocals’ desperation. On this second song, it comes as a bit of relief as the sound simmers down a bit into a tumultuous swirl as a wide soundscape opens. The music builds back with the drums going so fast it takes your breath away. The low-end bass underlines the confusion and dizzying craziness of the musical performance.
Like this, the music on the album is driven onward mostly stumbling over each other, but with shifts into open less dense parts to let the thunderous music breathe. Like on ”Old Words Worn Thin” where the frenzied music halts and sound effects from the guitar create a wide reflective breathing space before it blends with the guitar as frenzied as before not only riffing but sliding into what might resemble a murky solo performance. Then the music glissades into an unfamiliar mode as it stretches over the drums and fast bass widening out the soundscape resembling a crescendo. And on ”Born As An Argument”, after a lot of dissonance, the sound of a steel guitar appears in the layers playing a reflective melody joined by subtle vocalizing.
The fierce musical force continues throughout the album. ”Spill Into The Aisle” is as heavy as uncompromising sludgy Noise can be. It turns for the worse in terms of dissonance, throws itself forward with the lyrics ”A man / A father / Looks back / Looks back / And chews his tongue / Again”. The music on ”Ceilings Inch Closer” crashes onward to emphasize the emotions crushing mental claustrophobia. The dissonance deepens on ”The Starveling” until the monotonic music is splintered by guitars breaking out in a messy solo before it comes to a halt with sound effects, bursts of drums, and intense screams. The band fuses the instruments driving onward until it slowly turns into white noise statics.
The album closes with ”Thrown Against The Waves” with diverse music as the use of the main guitar is more various and dynamic, and the breathers with bass, clean guitar, and grooving bass contradict the reflection and the desperation of the lyrics. One could not think it possible, but the music becomes even more chaotic, and nevertheless this song is more varied, and has more slowed-down sections than the previous. It seems more developed and less unhinged with a wide soundscape made by humming and vocalizing leading up to the ending words »Take Care/Are you listening? / Or too far away? / Take care /I sing this / With love / With love» and in the end the music gets a whiff of Blackgaze and Dark Ambient.
Objects Without Pain is a unique album from a unique, but demanding, trio of musicians that sometimes reminds one of Stinking Lizaveta and US Christmas in their approach to Sludge. And it is an astounding mystical fact that Great Falls is not in the Metal Archives database even after 13 years in the murky waters of Sludge Metal.