Great Falls. What the fuck!
Carrying out their second LP like a torture session this ensnaring minefield of a record was one of the biggest things last year. Accidents Grotesque provides absolutely massive stopping power with both grit and intelligence behind their animosity.
Something I’ve desired so intently was also something I could’ve easily missed. Shameful for sure. This really is a prime example of thoughtful composition, subdued but clearly deep skill, and ruthless aggression combusting together to form what is certainly a nuanced and threatening classic.
Having been around since at least 2009, Seattle’s shrouded prize Great Falls has been toiling in their work and I’ve been largely ignorant of their existence despite their seasoned members.
I first heard them on the Hell Comes Home Volume 1 set with astral grinders Dephosphorus, and then last year (late again) on a tape with the weird and lovely fucked-up darkgaze Pink City, where they perform a rough version of a “Wound Instructions” from this record and another nauseating beating titled ‘The Head Opens Its Red Mouth’.
Prior to that I was not aware of their multiple demos, splits with A Death Cinematic et al, or their debut Fontanelle.
Then I was tipped off to Accidents Grotesque via Hell Comes Home and I just couldn’t believe I almost missed this, and had been missing these three guys’ current clamerous journey. If the past releases are anything like this than I’m gonna have a good time.
It’s safe to say (as I’ll get to in a second) that these guys play with several influences largely resting on discordant and noisy hardcore that borrows from some slower styles to increase their already virulent attitude, and morph things for the better.
This in it’s current form on Accidents Grotesque results in some parallels with Rorschach, Breather Resist, with splashes of early Ion Dissonance but also stained with other uncertain, heavier oddities.
That first batch should not be surprising considering Great Falls’ driving guitarist, artist and vocalist is Demian Johnston of Kiss It Goodbye and Undertow (hung with Deadguy in their prime), the fuming angularity honed to a precise edge over the course of those projects. His vocals definitely harken back to those days, a dryer raspier shade of the Tim Singer style roar that leans on Alexis Marshall’s drunk wailing very, very, very lightly in one or two spots.
Then you add Phil Petrocelli who drums partially for Jesu, this experience adding a driving thrust to both the chaos and the sludge where a ceremonial pace takes hold. And finally transfuse the dronescape blood of Black Noise Cannon via Shane Mehling’s slippery bass, and the comradery in anger breeds chaotic, purifying noise only minds geared towards catharsis through musical enmity summon so vividly.
While comparisons can be made Great Falls overall show in each expression but particularly this one that they have something special to impart. There’s a good interview with them on Cvlt Nation I suggest you read for some deeper insights into their creative paths.
The distressing tone seeping from the work of all three soaks up atmosphere as this record plays out and by the time you’ve made it past the opener “God Arms the Patriot” the illness that crept up slowly has exploded, shattering expectations as to what chaotic hardcore can transform to.
I rarely find ‘super-groups’ whether they’re promoted as such or not to be as fascinating as the implied potential, I’m sure I’m not the only one. There is no doubt the talents and past pedigree involved in this group could allow the application of such a label.
In this case though the compounded skills and experience in the interesting balance of genres they work with actually does result in something continuously impressive, consistently creative across every release I’ve heard and coming to fulminating boil here.
Eight tracks in about forty minutes but I swear it will feel like less than half that. Accidents Grotesque as dynamic and contentious as it is hooks you immediately, and the smooth run of all tracks is surprising and welcome. The majority of songs here are shorter and yet still find time to dig slow for a brief time, with two larger avalanches on the second half.
As mentioned the introductory song is “God Arm’s the Patriot”. An immediate flopping, fat and bulging riff smothers the first minute as the verbal retching of emotions cleaves through with static edge. Interrupted only by one moment of brief and abrupt palm muted chugging, this is a bright and deadly warning of how well Great Falls can twist their spell.
The lyrics also strike the listener as both personal, and quite harkening back to the emotional and betrayal-fevered writing in a lot of hardcore at the time it seems. At least from a surface reading. The titles suggest something more allegorical I think but I tend to read into shit.
I saved this from starving nights
I carved this from starving eyes
… and she did this was the lie I drilled into you
Look her up, unmake this, smash our love apart
I know I birthed this, it tore straight from my chest
Blunted and embittered, this is a streak that runs through a lot of the words here, often seemingly about love and relationships, “Stringer” may be about abuse or about debilitating mental afflictions but it could easily not be either. This record seems to be generally involve heartbreak and challenges in clearly intimate issues.
“A Parade of Horribles” in fact mentions his name (Demian) in the context of escaping something through a change in location. In other songs like the one to follow there’s definitely a touch more metaphoric feeling overall.
Actually “Wound Instructions” appeared in another form on their split with Pink City that I mentioned earlier. It was good then but better now, louder and clearer with the bass clicking intensified. At forty-five seconds in a beautiful and angular procession breaks the dire and frantic tangling heard in the opening moments and that directly follows it again; an absorbing moment.
It’s huge and engaging, and when you think they’ll bring it back it’s replaced by a bigger, lower groove; it closes the track and begs to be repeated.
“Milk From Treason” is where we see a tiny speck more of the ’90s appear, specifically in the ascending structures after the initial volleys of fury. Again it turns to the low, hanging and dissonant ‘sludge’ like crawls after these crackling moments. It’s at the end where things spiral towards more jarring sounds, only to back off.
Now we get to a favorite. “Stringer” is yet another towering rampage, and next to the last two tracks is a choice song. Mounting, cycling in dissonant, lanky riffs and bass. The vocals ooze animosity, drawn-out screams turn to more distant nervous yells in the most dark patch of this swamp.
I’m coming back just like he hoped
Hear me, softly and clearly
Ruin him, take his life apart
I’ve fucked up just like he planned
And there’s no way out from himself
He needs our help
Lives scattered to the wind
Here is his torture: He has to live each day
Here is his horror: he cannot get away
Centered on either inescapable despair in mental disorder or abuse; endless cycles. It overall becomes so heavy that you sink with each dive it takes; last breaths of twangy bursting riffs at the end. This dark patch sees the drumming become more relaxed and tribal.
This is a killer song, and a moment where I was completely captivated. The first few moments really remind me of the opening moments of KIG’s She Loves Me… It’s like being transported back to the start of these kind of sounds which is a bit weird since I experienced them retroactively anyway. Even in the heavier moments in the last half of “Stringer”, the sting from that era feels so fresh.
Getting into the last one on the first side niw, ‘Replace me with Fire’ brings with it the tones that Yautja and Children of God play with too Big dives, heavy strums and slow, dragging notes. Stripped percussion. Permeating bass that in the middle of the song stands alone, bolstered eventually by Demian’s blazing reassurances in strained, stress-etched screams.
After that moment there’s a stretch where it’s a lone ambient hum from the bass and a revolving note, it gets assaulted by a but of drumming (sparse and abrupt); same for the bass line. When the words enter again the riffs start up in very quick broken bursts at first, eventually being sustained until a solo. All the while that original ambient drone lies buried underneath and escapes right at the end.
Indeed at the finale of both sides of this LP it works out that a long track is the closing piece, with different angles in their expansive nature.
There’s three tracks on the second side, the first is “Bruxism” and it’s the shortest here, the blunt nature betrays the slightly shadowed and jaundiced words portaying addiction.
Right arm goes numb
Lights grow dim
I’ll go home
I welcome their talons
Their beaks rend my flesh
Their wings are my shroud
Paced slowly over the fraught string contortion, it’s a messy and fufilling minute and thirty seconds devolving into more Rorschach-esque twsting and writhing. By the end the desperate sounds conveying total submission and it slides right into the first incredible moments of “A Parade of Horribles”.
It’s hard to place a favorite especially when you reach the last couple of tracks but right now “A Parade of Horribles” can’t get much better. I mean this one includes subtle noise inclusion from Stan Reed (Blue Sabbath Black Cheer) so yeah, curious yet?
Kicked off from the left overs of “Bruxism” the riff is delicious, utterly dreadful and anxious crawling. At one point the vocals really do remind me of the last Daughters record though obviously not as strung out.This is during a bass and drum segment that feels a bit wobbly like Cower, both power in tandem solidly and crash right into my favorite moment, the awesome conclusion.
In the last half the song becomes a further twisting gulf: one slow series of bendy, untuned lumbering with a slight shimmer at the end bringing out the hardcore. It’s in a few brief moments like this that I want to make a cautious comparison to Gorguts, but I’ve already made allusions to Crowpath elsewhere and some may be more comfortable with that since Gorguts gets put through the wringer.
Whatever the case the final procession on that track is truly gripping, and makes it hard to top: a wave of crushing static and noise from Stand Reed billowing over the lat moments.
But the ending song for this record, ‘The Forgiveness Machine’, still has a lot to offer. It manages to do so much damage in a longer stroll of eleven minutes. Sluggish, atonal
At the two minute mark the teack is hushed with on note strumming, focused and prolonged and the gain turned way down. It leads to an explosive reconfiguration of that foundational note when the clicking cymbals peak in.
Bringing shit back around again to the first few riffs and then, from about five minutes in it’s an atmospheric build; small additions of ambiance from Andre Sanabria color and weave into the chords, bright cymbals, and lingering bass plucks. This slowly disintegrates as the waves spread out, each instrument gradually stripped away until it’s just the drummer on the cymbals.
Again, holy fuck what a record. It’s invigorating and refreshing and at the top of the heap for 2013 with little challenge for me. The only currently active band in their league with a similar vibe right now is Yautja — and they’re only similar in my mind probably.
They released this contorted masterpiece on a gatefold LP designed and illustrated by Demian, as you can see above it’s a pretty muted and clean with cryptic art depicting a zombified suit and what looks like territorial/state border lines or river system mapping, or schematics overlaid on him.
Similar shapes adorn the rest of the design, and I like the placing of the lyrics and track list. It all stand out without being very stark at all. Quite noticeably odd.
Please check these guys out if you haven’t. And if you have and like this sludge dervish then do support them. Accidents Grotesque is out on multiple formats from Dead Accents on the North American side (CDr sold out) while Hell Comes Home is handling the European orders and you can get a digital copy as well.