False Gods – No Symmetry… Only Disillusion Review

I’m the biggest Eyehategod fan I know, and sludge gets a bad rap. I get it: much like drone, if you just amp up the distortion to an 11/10 and know how to abuse the blues scale, you’ve got it made. Of course, there’s more nuance, like the need for facial hair, flannel, intoxicating substances, a shotgun, and some dark woods in the Deep South, but that’s just pedantic. My point is, you wouldn’t expect Crowbar-esque sludge from some dudes in New York, New York. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Fuck-Your-Income-For-Rent City. The Home of Imperial Triumphant. So what does the Hong Kong on the Hudson’s own False Gods have in store for us?1

To be fair, for a bunch o’ chattahoochin’ slabgobberin’ city slickers, False Gods sure sounds like sludge. Founded in 2015, this Father Knickerbocker quintet has released three EPs, culminating in their debut No Symmetry… Only Disillusion. Their style has been described as a “unique blend of sludge/doom metal mixed with melodic noise and down-trodden hardcore.” While you can certainly see comparisons to crusty hardcore-influenced sludgemeisters His Hero is Gone and 16, False Gods seems to settle comfortably in the feedback-laden smothering sludge/doom cradle of Eyehategod, Buzzov•en, or early Mastodon. Sporting riffs so dense you can cut them with a chainsaw, No Symmetry… Only Disillusion is a tale of two halves—one flawed and the other solid—neither distinguishing itself from an ultimately limited scene.

If False Gods is different from every other sludge metal band and their dog gator, it’s because of synth flourishes that simply add to the density of the riff. This is gleefully clear in No Symmetry’s second half, true to its name, as tracks like “Call of the Neanderthal” and “All That’s Left Behind” utilize glacial guitar movements to showcase their hugeness, recalling the pace and tone of drone-meisters Sunn O))). Typically tracks rumble along at a mid-tempo pace, kicking teeth in with steel-toed boots of Black Tusk-esque riffs and hardcore d-beats in tracks like “Lords of Emptiness” and “Enemy Territory,” which also feature tasteful shredding guitar solos. Closer “An Eternity of Failure” is particularly of note, as it manages a shreddy sludge affair that laces its plod with a flavor of melancholia, ending the album on a unique note.

Tracks “Call of the Neanderthal” onward offer the highlights of the album, but the first three cuts are jarring bouts of awkward melodies and uneventful songwriting. “Stay Frosty” is the most guilty, a five-minute experience that feels about four minutes too long. Its plodding riff does little through the runtime, and is further worsened by a painfully dissonant melodic riff that doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to be dissonant. Furthermore, while “Enemy Territory” offers fun riffs, its transitions are too jarring to make an impact. And while “I Know Too Much” offers an interesting intro, the remainder of its runtime is dominated by mid-tempo meh, off-key vocals derailing the track. While No Symmetry… Only Disillusion’s vocal approach is similar to groups like early Mastodon or Buzzov•en in their gruff bark/howl, the mix pushes them into the background, and they feel like a distant howl that gets in the way more than complements the instrumentals. Finally, and perhaps most glaring, like any sludge band that isn’t Crowbar, Eyehategod, or Down, False Gods works in a saturated scene that leaves little room for deviation. While their synths complement the crush nicely for a suffocating flavor, there’s little else unique that the greats haven’t already accomplished.

No Symmetry… Only Disillusion is a debut loaded with promise. This New York collective makes true sludge that recalls the best of Eyehategod, Buzzov•en, Mastodon, and Crowbar, but never truly soars. False Gods may be from Empire City, but to their credit, their debut feels straight outta the bayou. Combining influences of hardcore and ambiance with some drone songwriting to round out its suffocatingly dense sludge palette, a listen is warranted—even if the practice is less impressive than the theory. Hindered by a faulty mix, monotonous vocals, and a style that allows little breathing room, No Symmetry… is nowhere near their magnum opus, but it will suffice if you have yourself a wee hankerin’ for some “sqeeee-djunnnnnzzzz.” While False Gods may not change your mind about sludge, it still remains a hearty and authentic slab of gumbo, even if it’s from a Cajun food stand in Times Square.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Seeing Red Records
Websites: falsegods1.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/falsegods1
Releases Worldwide: October 16th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Other than “I’m wokkin’ heahhhh!”
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