False – Portent (Gilead Media)

Monday, 29th July 2019
Rating: 8/10

2019 and if there is one thing that stands true above all possible falsities it is that the ability of bands to fuse familiar elements of the past into fresh form continues unabated. The argument can (and will) be made that all things (particularly in black metal) peaked prior to 1999 and everything that isn’t post-influenced is simply rehashing one of a few bands. Whatever. False has a unique that exists within a very familiar world and across Portent it comes through time and time again.

Portent is a dense listen, for notwithstanding the closing track “Postlude” the album’s remaining 39 minutes is stuffed into only three long-form, multi-part experiences. “A Victual to Our Dead Selves”, which served as an initial ‘single’, is indicative of the album at large. Dense keyboards bathe melodic (and frequently frantic) black metal passages that twist and turn, rise and fall. The use of synth (and at times, guitar as well) recalls multiple eras of Emperor, particularly Prometheus. Even when slowed to dirge-like speeds there is unceasing sense of urgency to Portent. There is a strong progressive current to the album, which is both unsurprising (and fortunate) with the extended run times. No everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach is used but there is a high amount of variability.

And make no mistake, variability or not the album is again, dense. With six members, all of which contribute toward the often-unrelenting maelstrom of sound, Portent can almost be overwhelming, particularly on the longest track, the 16 minute “The Serpent Sting, the Smell of Goat”. While the album is a brisk 41 minutes long, there is nothing brisk in the listening experience, no dropping in and out and easily ascertaining bearings. Portent requires effort and rewards in kind, making for a fantastic longer-form (repeat) listen.

An intense listen in the midst of an intense summer, Portent is a bastion of influence and fusion.

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