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As the title to this review suggests, this album will sound crapthe first time round. It really will. Each song is truly unpredictable, swerving its way around the musical spectrum: you'll hear straight-up grind, death metal, clean sections, sections that sound lifted out of an In Flames album... the works. There are even noise sections (ringing untuned guitars, electronic atonal noises etc). I'll say it again: this album is truly overwhelming, but once you get your head around this style, it is addictive.
The genius of this album and FTF's style is that it never pins itself to a single sound, and although all this is overwhelming (probably intentionally so), it makes everything very interesting. Not knowing what's going to come next is something I think more bands should strive to induce.
When FTF fire off into a grindcore section, they still manage to keep their own identity. Mel Mongeon's slightly Gossow-like shriek is piercing, and the raw-produced guitarwork excels at delivering a kind of enjoyable dissonance. It's not up to Gorguts levels, but every now and then it's used to great effect; it sounds truly unsettling. The heavy sections are technical and varied by themselves, but it's the way in which dynamics are used in the album that makes it stand out from the crowd. The aforementioned noise sections break the songs up, and the clean ones sound quite unique. No Opeth-cloning here: they aren't catchy or particularly melodic, but fit the mood of the song well. I should point out that the clean sections don't even happen particularly often, which makes them welcome breaks when they start. I do dislike one element: occasionally, in the slower distorted sections, there is an attempt to play some lead work. Nothing flashy, but a few lines layered onto slower rhythm guitars; these sound tacked on, and don't really add to anything. Redundant at best.
This album needs a big attention span. It needs repeated listens, it needs appreciations of the nuances within the chaos; this is not an easy listen by any means. However, I find this to be strikingly original. Instead of the legion of bands relying on constant distorted-clean-distorted dynamic, FTF manage to create these dynamics within distorted sections, and unease during the clean or noise ones. While FTF rely on bludgeoning the listener, they put a lot into the sound, making sure the anvil to the face sounds varied and interesting. An underground classic.
Stigmata High-Five is Ottawa's Fuck the Facts debut album on a "major" record label, after releasing dozens upon dozens of splits, EPs and tons of other things like that. This would be pretty hard to categorize, but I'd say something in between Metalcore and Grindcore. It's not really hard to tell that the riffs and the music here is very researched and complex, but in all honesty it just sounds like the band is way in over their heads. By trying to sound overly technical, Fuck the Facts have created an album that's insanely fast and complex, but completely unmemorable and random. There's just too much going on in a single song, and the ideas are never connected. "The Wrecking", for example, is only 4:39 but there's probably 15 riffs in there. All of them are acceptable, but they sound like the jam sessions of a very technical guitarist. Just in this song, I can hear post-hardcore, melodic death, black metal, brutal death metal and progressive, to name just half of what i'm hearing. This might sound interesting at first, but by the end of this album you will be dazed and you won't remember a single riff, since most of them last 10 seconds each. Now, this formula worked wonders for known grindcore bands like Pig Destroyer, but as opposed to FTF, Pig Destroyer made short songs, and the range of influences was a lot more limited. The musicians are great, but too much is just too much. A good example of the many influences being put into play is on the last track, "Dead In The Ruins Of Your Own City", which is ironically the last track. Top-notch songwriting, killer riffs, some keys, and the song actually takes time to evolve. It doesn't try to cram as many riffs as possible into a song in order to sound technical. There's also a slower moment near the end with a top notch solo. The only thing that sucks is that this was the last track on the album. I had to endure 25 minutes of constant changing and overly quick progression before I made it to this. I also love the feedback at the end of the track. The vocals on this album sound like a half-assed J.R. Hayes (of Pig Destroyer). Maybe it's because the singer's a girl? The drums are way too technical and have too many blastbeats. Overall, these guys prove us that they're great musicians and can write awesome riffs, but go too far. This album would be a lot better if it had less riffs, less blastbeats, more polished vocals and more direction. Less is more!
A band with a name like Fuck The Facts are hardly likely to be guilty of mincing their words, or their music for that matter, and this Canadian Grindcore quartet don’t waste any time in pummelling the listener to a bleeding wreck on their Relapse debut, “Stigmata High-Five”. Quite simply, if the opening seven minutes of first track “La Dernière Image” haven’t blown you away nearly completely, then you should turn your speakers up louder and try again. Oozing with fury from the onset, Fuck The Facts take the listener on an intense emotional journey through their meandering experimental leanings centred around sheer and precise brutality.
But wait, you’ve heard it all before? Brutal! Technical! Revolutionary! Record label and press hype of this ilk can unfortunately get the better of many avid music fans, only to be let down by bands who sound nothing like they’d expected. Anyone else still baffled as to why Lamb of God are considered some kind of technically-minded Metal monster? If you still believe there’s hope in actually discovering a truly exciting band which can fulfil these promises, you’ll not be let down by this album. Tracks like “The Wrecking” and “Taken From The Nest”, with astoundingly powerful and interlocking drum and guitar patterns, remind the listener of the perfect balance between technicality and catchy riffs. “Stigmata High-Five” contains perhaps the perfect combination of epic and memorable song structures and devastating Grindcore blasts that promise to leave no one standing, especially when these songs hit the live setting.
Coupled with this destructive and consistent sound, you might find yourself checking the liner notes and band pictures a few times to clarify that front woman Mel Mongeon is indeed that. Sounding like a demented hybrid of Converge’s Jacob Bannon and Pig Destroyer’s J.R. Hayes, you’ll find yourself utterly enraptured by this woman’s vocals. Conveying anger, desperation and all-out fury in one fell swoop, multiple listening is essential simply to try and concentrate on both the immensity of the music and the captivating vocals together.
Finishing things off with the chilling epic piece “Dead In The Ruins Of Your Own City”, Fuck The Facts may well leave you with a blank, expressionless face in sheer wonder at the music you have just been subjected to. So many bands nowadays claim to be the most extreme this, or the fastest that, but for a band who simply state that they “had fun” making this album to have pulled off such a wonderful work of modern Grindcore and Metal is almost unfathomable. Full of real raw emotion and the kind of musical extremity you could only hope for from many other big names, “Stigmata High-Five” is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Originally written for http://www.blastwave.co.uk