It was the release of their single “Pain” that drew my attention to Falcifer, so you could say I’m pretty ‘late’. Regardless, I’ve come to know the Adelaide four piece through the process of reviewing Pain, which also involved a dive into their previously released EP Theta for some context. The band have freshly joined the Greyscale Records family, and the press release about Pain promised hardcore with a sprinkle of experimentation. I was up for that!
EP opener “Hostile” felt immediately good to be with, coming across with a solid sense of satisfaction and authority, and ‘Here I am’ kind of riffs. With the vocals somewhat buried, I hit pause and slowly combed through the track’s densely packed lyrics, keen to understand what was being shared in this bluntforce cut.
I understood “Hostile” to be speaking about a coattail-riding person; someone who intended to use lies to dethrone the very person that they’re leeching off. With this in mind, the defiant refusal for this to happen is apparent in this confronting track, and it’s slamming and hard from the outset. Vocalist Stephanie Marlow shares distaste, virtually spat out in the direction of her fury.
Lyrics or meaning aside, it took me some time to take in the song musically also, feeling like the vocal rhythms were at odds with the instrumental rhythms and energy, and feeling conflict in this; being pulled in two directions. A wailing and wavering high guitar called for my attention mid-way through, but I kept being drawn toward the vocals instead.
So it was relieving in a way to have that high guitar on its lonesome for a moment during “Hostile”, before a muffled collision joins in with intermittent guitar flare-outs. It all (fittingly) comes across like a fist fight. With a high and piercing moment along with chugging bass, I find myself easing into the riff and I appreciate how everything seems to collect before a final moment of confrontation. It seems to be purposely built for a hectic moment in a live setting, with tensions violently unleashed. The instrumental sparks that fly toward the track’s ending were an unexpected and welcome surprise.
With muffled and frustrated beginnings, second track “Burning” oozes oppression. Raw statements blanket the track, and eerie guitar (with impressive and moreish tone) crawls along as the song progresses. Again I find myself easing into a great riff, but “Burning” doesn’t seem to be about staying anywhere for long.
Shifting into something else, there’s more of a hectic mood and a greater sense of push. With many different pockets of sound, the moments of stop and start both sound and feel good, matching the idea of trying to find ways forward. I enjoyed the drumming on this track and (again) there was more intrigue created by melody and groove than I’d expected to find. Realising I’d barely focused on the meaning running through the song, “Burning” definitely holds its own instrumentally.
If you’ve been around Depth long enough, you’ll probably have read something about my appreciation for bass somewhere. Well third track “Impurity” ticks this box for me, with bass and drum setting the scene at its introduction.
I wanted to understand a bit more about Falcifer at this point of the review, so this is where I went and gave tracks of Theta a listen to understand where they’ve come from. To my ears, it was a relatively two dimensional kind of sound, with not much to draw the listener in at face value; very clearly dense, dark, and downward. Pain already seemed to have more colour and flavour to it, while also carrying similar heaviness.
“Impurity” came at the ears in a two-steppable package with bounce. I again enjoyed the bass-focus moments, and enjoyed the fresh sounding riff that arrived in the last 30 seconds or so of the track. As I was going through the EP, there was a sense of a “but…” that was nagging at me. As in, “These riffs are sick, but…”, “I like the bounce to this, but…”. There was something not quite right or something missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Continuing into “Pain”, I understood why it was chosen for the lead single for the EP. The song is a great way to capture the multi-faceted approach that Falcifer have taken toward heavy music with the EP. (You can read my more detailed take on “Pain” when it released as a single HERE) The title track felt most consistent by way of meaning of the EP, which started to make it apparent what the “but…” was about: Great lyrics, great instrumentation, but these things didn’t always feel like they were all on the same thematic page.
“Impurity” for example, is a song that’s questioning and wondering what will come by way of its lyrics, but sonically it is as defiant and confrontational as “Hostile”. And given that it’s not always easy to make out what’s said, the listener (at least this one) relies on how it sounds/feels for uniqueness. And with this in mind, that (really great!) last 30 seconds or so of “Impurity” split me into two parts; one that enjoyed the uniqueness of that instrumental moment but also another part that didn’t really get why it was there.
EP closer “Demise” unfortunately didn’t do much to change my perspective. It’s huge in its arrival, but the steadiness that didn’t give much away made it tough for me to be drawn in. I appreciated the staticky bass chugs and the bounciness that came along with similarly staticky vocals.
Again though, this bounce doesn’t really fit with “Death’s hand’s been waiting for me”. It’s tough as a reviewer to appreciate the instrumentation but also feel that sense of it not sounding like what it’s saying. This split was also captured for me in an unexpected moment of crispness from the drums; feels good, sounds good, but doesn’t ‘speak’ along with what’s being said in the song.
My perspective of the EP is lifted by really great instrumental moments and twists and turns into unexpected pockets of sound. But it could be made even better if I was given a chance to feel what’s being shared in the song. I was left with a “that’s it?” feeling at the EP’s end.
There’s endless promise here, where so many times I sunk into a really satisfying groove, but I really wanted a full-bodied experience of what Falcifer have to say, and I don’t feel like I got there over the span of Pain.
Impressive moments where songs turned corners and pulled me into unexpected groove. Songs that I expect will go down well in a live setting.
Not quite there in terms of the message shared in the EP.