Reviewed: [November 2020]
Released [2020 Noise Salvation Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Ottawa grind faction Fuck The Facts are back with their first album in five years, which is nothing too unusual for the band as their pace for pumping out full-lengths has slowed considerably since issuing six LPs in their first four years back at the turn of the century. What is was odd about this stretch was that it was so quiet, as the band traditionally has offered a slew of EPs, splits or live material in between albums. After 2015’s Desire Will Rot, though, there’s really been nothing.
Dunno if Fuck The Facts were taking a much-deserved break, or simply conserving their energy to focus on this their 11th album, but these guys and girl – frontwoman Mel Mongeon – have returned reinvigorated and inspired with Pleine Noirceur (Pure Darkness in English). Even though the album is rife with the sort of grim tidings the title alludes to in tracks like “Sans Lumiere” (Without Light), “Everything I Love Is Ending,” “A Dying Light” and “Dropping Like Flies,” it offers quite the rollercoaster ride on the musical end of things, showing the sort of variety one rarely, if ever, gets from grindcore, save for maybe Pig Destroyer/Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
Indeed, the album slingshots between surprisingly expansive and complex noise/post rock squalor and the more traditional breakneck grind, delivering a back and forth that is both jarring and exhilarating. And while longer, more involved material is not a new twist for the band who’ve had a few songs top nine minutes and more over the years, there’s a more even balance here that, when combined with the sequencing makes for some pretty extreme contrasts.
The sprawling, occasionally frantic opener “Doubt, Fear, Neglect” clocks in at nearly seven minutes, channeling Helmet and Killing Joke with its mix of clangorous melody and gut punch riffs. “Ailleurs” – “Elsewhere” in English – then follows with a minute-long microburst of grind fury before things throttle back for a post-rocky slow build up on the nearly six-minute title track, with a glorious soaring solo break tossed in to boot.
The screeching spastic riffs on “Sans Lumiere” (Without Light) bring to mind fellow Canadians Voivod, offering a bit of progressive flair while ramping up the velocity before its companion piece “Sans Racines” (Without Roots) delivers a 38-second carpet bombing that would make Napalm Death proud. “Everything I Love Is Ending” and “A Dying Light” mix doomy slog with all-out sprints before “Dropping Like Flies” delivers an almost death metal beatdown with its double-bass gallop and hulking cascade of guitar.
“L’Abandon” revisits the Helmet-like rivet gun chug and is perhaps the heaviest song here – which is saying something – before “An Ending” would seem to, well, end things on a far quieter note. Except it doesn’t because “_cide” follows to finish things off in a buzz-sawing wall of bass/guitar and Mongeon’s shrieks.
Pleine Noirceur breaks the band’s recent relative silence with authority and aplomb. The ebbs and flows and breadth of the material here keep the listener off balance from the get-go, which, again, isn’t something one generally expects from grindcore. Yet there’s still plenty of the usual bludgeon, so best of both worlds.