Objects without Pain by Great FallsRelease date: September 15, 2023
Label: Neurot Recordings
Seattle trio Great Falls first came onto my radar with their 2018 release A Sense of Rest and was an album that stood out being utterly brutal and frankly unnerving, an album that is likely to leave a bit of an impression. One can only assume that the album title is ironic because the content is anything but. Their 2023 release Objects Without Pain is the band’s fifth release and shows the band that is not about to mellow out.
The album opens with ‘Dragged Home Alive’, opens with sparse bass chords which immediately give the feeling that something dramatic is about to happen. However, the track builds slowly. Demian Johnson’s pained vocals pierce the air before some atmospheric quiet spoken word softens the track. Before too long, the band hit at full force, tumultuous and chaotic. The track varies in pace between over the nine minutes. This is a good example of what this band is capable of producing when they let loose. ‘Trap Feeding’ is straight into full-force chaos at a frenetic pace and somehow manages to increase in intensity as it goes along. The wall of noise occasionally penetrated by vocals screams and cymbal crashes. Definitely a stand-out track on the album ‘Born As An Argument’ keeps up with this pace. The band makes a hell of a lot of noise for a three-piece and the tracks are expertly produced, it would be very easy for this to sound a mess but the depth and articulation are there. The band use dynamics well and can shift from sparse to absolute noise in a moment.
The album, according to the band’s press is about a breakup and the sounds is reminiscent of that horrible sick feeling you get when you release something terrible is about to happen and that your whole world is about to be shattered and the multitude of emotions that are associated with it, it would be fair to say that this is not easy listening. ‘Old Words Worn Thin’ starts with a slow and ponderous riff, Johnson’s harsh screams jostle with the guitar for prominence. The track lurches around, every time the sound is pared back, the rest bite is short lived and it is not long before chaos resumes, the track builds the intensity over it’s eight and half minutes ending up on the verge of total collapse, blast beats carry us to a frenetic ending.
‘Spill Into The Aisle’ starts with a whispered, breathless spoken word track soon to be overtaken by a harsh bassline. This is without a doubt an album that improves with a few listens, the insanity and unhinged nature of the music is immediately apparent and hard to ignore but giving the tracks a few more listens the details and the nuances are apparent. The layered guitars and vocals and the way that the drums drive the pace become more obvious. The music not so much draws you in but grabs you by the throat and forces you to embrace it. ‘Ceilings Inch Closer’ eschews any nuance and instead opts for a full-on aural assault. Johnson’s voice cracks and breaks and the track slowly fades away.
‘The Starvling’ opens with an angular and dissonant guitar riff, the bass takes centre stage with some (slightly) more gentle guitar, and the vocal line “Are you ok?” adds to the uncomfortable feeling. The guitar alternates between clean and dirty distortion before the band coalesces, Johnson’s pained screams mark a crescendo. The track alternates between sparse and chaotic with a dramatic ending.
Ending the album ‘Thrown Against the Waves’ is a stunning track and a somewhat epic way to end the album, layered guitars are a touch of melody, and there is a long sparse passage in the track but if you have been paying attention you will except exactly what comes next, the track builds slowly but surely. The use of synth both manages to add melody and increase that uncomfortable feeling.
Great Falls have created a frankly awesome follow up to A Sense of Rest, they have developed their sound, the crushing and unnerving heaviness is there in spades but their use of dynamics and little touches of melody add and enhance the band’s sound. It is an emotional record and not an easy listen but is something that is worth perseverance, when you get passed the in your face nature of the music there is a lot more to find.