Review: Great Falls – A Sense of Rest
Why even anything.
Great Falls play… well, I’m not sure what they play. The press text says “post-hardcore/noise rock,” and I guess that will do in a pinch. They did cover a Shellac song, so we’re probably at least in the right area. I first encountered them on their split with Dephosphorus, and found their track oddly compelling. “Oddly” because it had pretty much nothing I normally look for in music, and neither did the other material I began checking out. It’s not fast, it’s not melodic, there are no fun, headbangable riffs. What there is, however, is a sense of anger and rejection. Intrinsic to metal, of course, but Great Falls take it to a level I hadn’t and still haven’t encountered anywhere else. Let’s have a look at how they achieve this on A Sense of Rest.
I hope “Kettle Logic” gives you an idea of what I mean. Dissonant, abrasive, generally unpleasant music that rejects common notions of beauty and cohesion is nothing new, especially not on this blog. But the particular way these riffs bend at odd angles while a drumkit falls down a set of stairs and a man emits hideous, anguished screams makes for a combo that somehow feels right to me. If metal’s early days rejected common musical ideas in order to deny their purpose and meaning, then this is the logical present-day consequence that denies the meaning of everything. The music has to sound how it sounds because nothing makes sense anymore, and this state is unbearable. While others react by adding to the debris of life that surrounds them, or by just pointing out the destruction, Great Falls grab fistfuls of the jagged wreckage and hold them out to you, palms bleeding from the cuts, screaming at you, asking what the fuck they or anyone is supposed to do with this shit. The question may in essence be the same that sparked metal’s spirit of rejection, but here, youthful rebellion has turned rancid and bitter, frustrated that after years of raging, no answers have emerged, and there is still nothing to really work with. You get older, but nothing changes; the world demands things of you, but you’re not sure what they are. This is a familiar feeling to me.
Another cornestone of the album is repetition, more of it than I had noticed in their sound before. I like repetition for the sort of hypnotic effect it often has. But that’s not really how it’s used here. It’s used to illustrate drudgery. Utter, miserable drudgery. It’s the repetition you experience going through the same motions every day, doing your best to ignore the question of what the point of it all is, and pushing down the rising anger at the suspicion that there is none. The minimal electronic beat that pops up suddenly in “The Accelerationist” exemplifies how there’s a limited number of repeats before something goes out of whack, starts to wobble, and eventually snaps. Great Falls is at the snapping point.
There is, however, one moment that appoximates beauty and peace on the album. It’s buried near the eleven minute mark of the fifteen-minute-long “We Speak In Lowercase”. Until we reach that point, it’s an arduous journey, starting with a prime example of repetition, then flipping over to the aforementioned anchorless rage. Eventually though, after it burrowed deep into the earth, away from the light, away from people, the music finds a little bit of space where it feels comfortable. Only here, in complete solitude, can it unfold, stretch out a bit, forget its woes. For a moment. Next song “Thousands Every Hour” underlines that this moment was a one-off with its intro of screeching, grating feedback noise. Back to pointless drudgery it is. But it was there, that surprising moment of peace, all the warmer for how briefly we felt it.
So yeah, this is a great album for anyone who’s, you know, a little dissatisfied with the world, or for someone like me trying to reconcile an angsty teenage mindset with a 32-year-old life and finding it increasingly difficult. I give it
4.5 out ov 5 Flaming Toilets
A Sense of Rest is out December 21st on Corpse Flower Records. Digital and various physical versions here, news and whatnot here.