Wasteland is the name of the debut EP by New York’s False Gods, and it’s a well-chosen title because this massively heavy, staggeringly bleak, and frequently hallucinatory EP seems like a musical survey of life’s wreckage.
The five songs on the EP aren’t all in the same vein musically. You may think you know where they’re going after the first very catchy song (or even two), but as you move ahead you eventually realize you’re on your way into a descent, and there’s a soul-destroying pit of despair at the end of the fall.
With a booming drum intro, that first song, “Despot”, launches into a mid-paced stoner-doom jam, with python-thick, vibrating riffs that are immediately infectious and drums that sound like gunshots echoing off tenement walls. The pace eventually slows and that Sabbathian riff turns into a head-trip, meandering over a bass-generated quagmire. The raw, red-eyed yells wouldn’t be out of place in a hardcore band, but as the EP continues, they also turn to wrenching shrieks, and you get the sense that you’re hearing someone passing over the edge into a full psychotic break.
The following two tracks, “Worship As Intellectual Tyranny” and “Wasteland”, also include some damned catchy stoner-doom riffs, but the former also crunches ahead destructively like a tank attack and takes a turn into unremitting gloom before it’s over, while the title track is black-hearted and mercilessly destructive — it’s unnerving and fighteningly lightless.
“Grant Me Revenge” is a surprise at first — like a fast-paced punk blast — but it becomes a mid-paced crusher that ultimately hammers your head like an anvil while a slow, moaning, narcotic riff scrambles the brains inside.
You hit rock bottom with the closing track, “I See You For What You Are”. The stoner influence has been banished, and the sludge element that’s been an ingredient in all the preceding tracks asserts its dominance. This is blasted, abrasive, malignant music, filled with hate and inflicted with massive, crushing weight. Yet there’s a change in this song as well, as eerie, unearthly chords and reverberating notes rise up in the back half of the track. It almost becomes entrancing, with a hint of something beautiful trying to survive the destruction that surrounds it.
From beginning to end, Wasteland is a cool trip, but not for the faint-hearted. It brings to mind a mixture of Sabbath, Crowbar, and Corrosion of Conformity, mixing big, rumbling rolling jams; hallucinogenic, brontosaurian stomps; and skull-splitting heaviness that becomes as black and bleak as a cancer that’s metastasized into the bone. Especially for a band who’ve only been together since late 2015, it’s a very promising start. Listen to all of it below.
Wasteland is available for pre-order on Bandcamp: