Album: Life in Death – EP
Like most things mankind lacks a complete understanding of, we as a species are horrified of death. In an effort to mitigate—or at least minimize—this fear, we have come up with a series of belief systems that help fill our ever-afters with something meaningful. One of these—and most relevant here—is the belief in reincarnation: that within death there is new life as another organism on this earth. Depending on what you believe, your reincarnated form might rely on a caste system or the actions you filled your previous life with—but after hearing the third studio release by Falsifier, your previous beliefs will be cast asunder. Life in Death is the latest and most mature release from a band whose sound is the dictionary definition of “progression.” Laden with blunt-force trauma inducing breakdowns and neck-snapping grooves, Falsifier have reached the uppermost echelon of lethally heavy downtempo deathcore bands—and one thing is certain: once Life in Death takes your last breath, there is no afterlife, no second chance and no light at the end of the tunnel. Just neverending nothingness.
When it comes to bands that have matured and rejuvenated their sound, I can think of precious few bands that come even close to rivaling Falsifier. Beginning with a humble (and questionably produced) EP in the first frosty days of 2014, these Canadian crushers have reached a status of supreme sovereignty over heavy music that precious few bands can accomplish in an entire lifetime-let alone two years. With a change in sound and quality that would warrant a name change from most acts, Falsifier’s reissued self-titles release gave the band fresh life and a renewed thirst for blood, skyrocketing them to the forefront of their local scene and beyond. An immensely well received single and addition to the True Initiative Management roster later, we join the band on the hinge of a release that, simply put, is downtempo deathcore done to perfection. Life in Death is a lurid display of hard-hitting, heavy-handed originality that will ensnare the ears of heavy music fans around the globe—even those with an aversion to trendy, low, slow style of aggression.
Instrumentally, Falsifier are two parts mammoth, lumbering heaviness to one part groovy atmosphere and one part lacerating, sinister aggression, all finished with a fine dusting of catchiness and simmered until it’s as dense and thick as concrete. Guitarists Colin Giofu and Jordan Sawchuksteal the show when it comes to establishing Falsifier’s furious, diverse soundscape. While tracks like “Life in Death” and “Malevolent” are grisly displays of gut-tearing, organ-melting intensity, “Burial Ground” highlights the duo’s ability to blend chug-driven brutally with eerie, atmospheric riffs and progressive, fluid grooves. On the raunchy, riffy “Burial Ground,” Giofu and Sawchuk show off a more diverse range of styles, adding melody and technicality both into their picture-perfect penchant for punishment displayed by the climactic breakdowns that dot the album like maggots on a corpse. Moments like the world-ending climax to “Human Filth” show just how low the two can go—allowing them to syncopate brilliantly with bassist Aaron Dow. An understated member of the Canadian quintet, Dow is often found lumbering beneath Giofu and Sawchuk, adding a hefty base (pun intended) to each groove and every eviscerating chug. Most importantly, however, Dow serves to amplify the explosive roar of percussionist Matt Andrews’ perfectly tuned and expertly played kit. Andrews finds himself as the heart to Falsifier’s mountain-leveling juggernaut of sound and intensity, oscillating between steady, catchy patterns and steamrolling, slow breakdowns detailed with errant flashes of technicality. “I Am Death,” as well as “Human Filth” is Andrews at his most diverse, allowing the band to flow smoothly from gyrating, twisting grooves to sneak-attack breakdowns that sucker punch the listener in the jaw as though it was a fist palming a roll of quarters. While Andrews may not be an incredibly technical or speedy player, he could not do a more perfect job as the steady, deathly slow heartbeat for Falsifier, making each portion of every track hit like a shotgun to the chest.
With a name like Life in Death, the listener might expect the standard-fare smorgasbord of violent, angry lyrics from a gruff, monotonous bellow to be Falsifier’s vocal element. While this wouldn’t be bad, it would certainly diminish the shocking effect of the energetic and earthshaking nature of the band’s musicianship. Fortunately for the listener, it is a moot point, as Falsifier’s AidenVersteegh is far from monotonous and is unsatisfied with generic, humdrum lyricism. Reigning over Life in Death with a primarily low, grisly bellow, Versteegh’s unique, unholy voice is an ideal compliment for a majority of the band’s absurdly low and heavy grooves and breakdowns. However, Versteegh adds life to his sickening, deathly growls with mid-range yells (found at their peak in “Life in Death” and “Malevolent”) and a broad array of lyrical content. While the EP’s two introductory tracks touch on common topics of death and despair, “Burial Ground” sees Versteegh explore his own psyche, introspectively annihilating the listener with honest aggression. “Malevolent” sees Versteegh take another departure from the norm, attacking the listener with an insane vocal spectrum and equally unstable lyrics to take them deep inside the mind of a killer. Versteegh aligns himself with some of heavy music’s heaviest hitters with his talent and endurance throughout Life in Death, giving it a ferocious bark to match its sharp fangs and insatiable bloodlust.
When it comes to hype, there is nothing false about the attention built up around Life in Death. Worth every syllable of praise and every second spent refining their sound, Falsifier are a band who exemplify hard work and careful writing. An unstoppable display of creatively crafted, soul-shredding heaviness, Falsifier’s Life in Death is an album that will pulverize any set of ears it touches, and make even the heartiest spirits bend and snap beneath its dismal weight.
For Fans Of: Rex, Feign, Filth, Bodysnatcher, The Alaskan
By: Connor Welsh