REVIEW: False Images – Imminentus [2016]


Artist: False Images 

Album: Imminentus


Imagine a bastion built in honor of all that is synonymous with contemporary heavy music. A towering obelisk of oppressive grooves, low-and-slow breakdowns, frantic riffs and intense percussion—and then imagine just how huge it would be. It would transgress “big,” “large,” “extraordinary” and “plus-size” to become something different altogether—it would be truly, comprehensively and almost unimaginably immense. Such is the debut full-length by New Hampshire quartet False Images. Imminentusis aptly named not only for its hefty run-time and track-list, but for its sprawling variety and incredible influence from bands and styles all across the heavy music spectrum, to a point where when False Images describe themselves as simply “heavy,” it fits well—because no single genre seems to fit the act terribly well. Imminentus is a gargantuan and grisly, raw-but-polished and ruthless display of downtempo-meets-groove-meets-metal-meets-hardcore, including everything from dizzying displays of daring fretwork to breakdowns brash and explosive enough to level entire mountain ranges; which means fans of anything heavy would be wise to subject themselves to Imminentus‘ intensity.

Emerging in the hay day of downtempo deathcore, False Images’ debut EP earned attention both for being overwhelmingly heavy, but underwhelmingly produced—and while the former hasn’t changed in the slightest, the latter is definitely a thing of the past. Imminentus is written to be soul-smothering, extinguishing every notion of ethereality like a flame deprived of oxygen. At the heart of the band, songwriter and guitarist Jeff Key makes this happen with nothing short of pure murderous intent. From the skull-cracking aggression prevalent in “Divine” to the arrhythmic riffs and oddly-times grooves in “Invasion” and “Stijn,” Key keeps the listener engaged and on their toes, writhing atop the boisterous and bouncy drumming from Justin Neves with ease. Neves’ percussion is bombastic, beating away at the listener’s head like a thirty pound sledgehammer in the hands of the Energizer Bunny. “Eradication” sees him dominating, drumming with an unpredictable and unstoppable candor that jumps from time signature to time signature and across tempos fast and slow without regard for the listener’s sanity. In many ways, it is Neves’ drumming combined with Key’s quick fingers and flashy fretwork that prevent False Images from relegating themselves to strictly downtempo territory. Whether it’s the catchy and bouncy riff at the end of “Divine” or Neves’ occasional use of lacerating blast beats and furious fills on “Grudge,” and indeed throughout Imminentus, False Images have plenty of progressive elements to bend the ears of strict downtempo aversionists. That isn’t to say, however, that the quartet aren’t capable of moments that put many contemporary downtempo acts to shame. Bassist Matt Nogueira works with Neves to create dizzying displays of devastating brutality on songs like “Grudge” that sound almost reminiscent of Traitors’ self-titled debut (you know, the short lived “glory days” of downtempo deathcore). Nogueira’s bass adds even more depth and raunchy power to Neves’ already thick and plodding kick drum—even during quick riffs and grooves like the one that defines “Invasion.” And where False Images’ previous releases see the bass sounding too muddy and all but unintelligible, Imminentussolves that problem, with production that lends just the right amount of distorting fuzz to Nogueira’s tone.

Where False Images’ instrumentation is furious and fluid in its oscillation between groove and filthy, grimy sludge, the band’s vocal effort is nothing short of pure oppression. Frontman Evan Surprenant is a true force to be reckoned with, spending the entirety of Imminentus’ sprawling run-time flipping back and forth between ferocious low bellows, meaty and raw mid-range yells and sky-shattering, soaring shrieks. While songs like “Caskets,” “Leviathan” and “Threat” are strong examples, every song Surprenant touches serves as evidence of his incredible vocal prowess—with shiver-inducing screams defining the haunting “Grudge,” just as unbelievable bellows kick off “Funeral,” with plenty of opportunities throughout for Surprenant to hit just about every style and range in between. While the vocals tend to be the first thing to get stale and monotonous, Surprenant’s never even come close—which is a powerful testament for an album that comes very close to an hour long.

Even in spite of False Images’ energy and diversity, when writing an album heavily defined by downtempo elements and dangerously-close-to-djent grooves, it’s nearly impossible to avoid repetition and monotony; unfortunately, Imminentus is no exception. Redeemed by several truly stand-out songs peppered throughout the album (“Divine,” “Grudge,” “Invasion,” “Funeral” and “Threat” to name a few) and by Surprenant’s 10/10 vocal performance, False Images still find themselves faltering over slight monotony-induced hiccups. Too often does a catastrophic breakdown begin with a single looming sequence of chugs or a predictable tom-and-kick drum build up—making many of the album’s finest climaxes visible from miles away. This isn’t helped by the immense run time of the release, nor the gritty and occasionally too rough around the edges production. However, these are all minor detractors—nothing that makes the album unenjoyable, but are rather small factors that whittle down the release’s replay value. At the end of the day, False Images’ debut full-length is gargantuan in name, run-time and brutality, making it a quintessential display of contemporary aggression.



For Fans Of: Traitors, Falsifier, Bodysnatcher, Structures, Rex

By: Connor Welsh