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Aittala – False Pretenses

False Pretenses
by Rachel Montgomery at 19 August 2019, 9:31 AM

AITTALA is a band formed in 1992 in Holland by North Carolina natives. They’ve been going strong with a sound that transcends genres, citing Power, Doom and Progressive Metal as influences. Their new album, “False Pretenses”, leans heavy on the Doom and Goth side of their listed influences but makes some interesting style choices within the genre.

The opening track, “Afterthought”, gives us some solid Doom Metal chords. The vocalist sounds like he’s reverberating, and the shakiness in his voice gives him an echo. It works for the genre, but I don’t think I like it and personally; I wish it were stronger with some more bite. High-pitched guitars are used for the solo and I’m not sure how to feel about it; it seems to both fit and not fit with the lower tones in the rest of the song.

Black Coffin” has a stronger intro, more cutting than the last song. I like the vocals better here; combined with the instrumentals, I can hear a hint of ‘60s Garage Rock influence (hollow-sounding vocals, clanking guitars on the high notes and pounding drums) in the horror-inspired effects of the music, combining some Post-Punk influence from the reverberating vocals and the repetitive, chant-like riffs.

Debt” opens with pianos and leads the intro as if it’s a slow song. I didn’t expect a lighter song this soon in the album. The story elements in the lyrics, however, would make this song a great opener for a concept album. Setting up a story about a man who sold his soul to the Devil and spends his nights waking up in a cold sweat, dreading the day he dies, and he has to pay his end of the deal. The rest of the album could go from there.

Different Day” opens up hard and fast with some gritty vocals and relentless guitars. I don’t care for the vocals in the verses; they sound too hoarse, but I will admit they work for what the song is going for.

Disowned” is another hard-hitting song from the start and already, I enjoy the riff and the pounding drums. I’m also here for the strong, explicit lyrics in the beginning, giving the song more of an edge. I think it works better than the last song; the lyrics have more imagery, and the instrumentals are subtly complex.

Funeral Procession” starts with soft drums, getting louder and leading into harder and harder riffs. The grainy production is again reminiscent of Post-Punk and Garage Pock. The long intro fades into biting riffs before descending into the lyrics. Of the songs on this album so far, this one is musically and lyrically the most traditional Doom Metal song. The guitar solo is more melodic, with high-pitched sweeps and an interlude by a piano.

How Much Longer” is an onslaught of hard riffs and pounding drums. I like the bass riff between the first verse and the chorus; it breaks the monotony of the riff and brings me back into the song. I also like the melodies closer to the end of the song, especially the harmonious guitar solo. The song improves for me as it goes on, but it’s not one of my favorites.

Infamy” is a harder song with more of an Industrial feel in the guitars. The singing is clearer with less reverb or grit and plays heavier than most songs on the album. It’s a short and solid song. Notably, it features a soaring chorus that’s intense and wonderful. “Nemesis” works its way into being a heavy song. The most notable thing is a creeping, low riff throughout the song, but other than that, it’s a standard Doom Metal track.

They Live” starts with a strong, constant riff line with guitars so down-tuned, it reminded me of Nu Metal. The vocals are closer to Goth Rock here, and the tin-pan quality of the music and vocals are back. As a closer, this song doesn’t stand out or sum up the album musically. It’s a good song, but as a closer, it’s nothing special.

Overall, I enjoyed hearing the different influences in the band’s work, and while I wasn’t sure about some of the style-mashing (going from low-pitched, grubby riffs to an ‘80s-style high-pitched solo in many of the songs, for instance), it was good for the genre it was written in. However, for a band that claims to have a wide influence, there was nothing groundbreaking that set it apart for me.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Different Day
2. Black Coffin
3. Disowned
4. Infamy
5. How Much Longer
6. Nemesis
7. Afterthought
8. They Live
9. Funeral Procession
10. Debt
Eric Aittala – Guitars & Lead Vocals
Gary “Zeus” Smith – Drums & Vocals
Ali Lugo – Bass
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 01 July 2022

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