Whenever I’m confronted with the epithet ‘supergroup’ I’m always reminded of a quote in A Riot of Our Own, Johnny Green’s excellent book about his time with The Clash. On being joined onstage by members of the Sex Pistols, The Clash’s guitar hero Mick Jones told the audience ‘Don’t call this a supergroup, it’s a fucking awful group!’.
Whilst this is an amusing (possibly apocryphal?) bit of punk lore, it hides within it the grail of truth: Sometimes, the whole is considerably less than the sum of the parts. Happily, with False Fed, this definitely isn’t the case.
Whilst ‘supergroup’ might be a bit of a misnomer, there can be no denying the impeccable punk credentials of the band’s members, and, hand on heart, it was the pedigree of some of the members that had me so much looking forward this initial offering from Neurot Recordings. On vocals, Discharge frontman Jeff Janiak; providing his considerable percussive talent, Roy Mayorga, erstwhile drummer with Nausea and Amebix (as well as Ministry, Soulfly, and, er, Stone Sour). Guitar duties are handled by Stig C. Miller, original and consistent member of crust legends Amebix.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that both Miller and Mayorga were in the final iteration of Amebix, producing the exceptional, genre-defying Sonic Mass (a personal fave). With my nerdy head on, I was intrigued to hear how this partnership would affect the sound of False Fed’s freshman offering. Would there be shades, no matter how subtle, of their last partnership? The fact that Let Them Eat Fake is on Neurot just adds to the intrigue, the label having a hugely diverse historical and current roster of artists points only to a powerful, possibly dark musical experience.
From the off, the tone of the album is set. Eschewing a basic four-to-the-floor beat, Mayorga’s tribal drumming coupled with JP Parson’s solid, anchoring bass over a moody synth wash ushers the opening track Superficial through the door before adding Stig’s nuanced guitar. A picture is painted, ready for Janiak to do his thing and bring the noise. The immediate comparator for me, should you need one, is later period Killing Joke, think The Death & Resurrection Show, Pylon, particularly Dreadful Necessities which has more than a hint of late-eighties dystopian post-punk about it, which is a very good thing, in case you’re in any doubt.
powerful, dark slabs of metallic post-punk…
The first single (Is that right? Do we even have these anymore?), Echoes of Compromise showcases the more complex, subtle, and lyrically personal aspects of the songwriting in evidence here, whilst the second, The Tyrant Dies taps a more punk vein for both its musical edge and its lyrical theme, something underlined by its accompanying no-nonsense video which leaves the viewer in no doubt who False Fed believe is at the root of the world’s problems and how these can be solved. Despite the differences in theme, both are powerful, dark slabs of metallic post-punk, as indeed are most of the tracks on Let Them Eat Fake.
I really enjoyed listening to this album and can’t see it straying far from my playlist for some time to come. I was excited to hear it, let alone offer my thoughts on it to Shamanistas. The influences are there to be heard but don’t by any means overwhelm the originality, rather, they adroitly add flavour, giving an inky, dread-filled depth from which the whole album benefits. I’m trying not to overuse the word ‘subtle’, but there is a subtlety at play here in the music, gradations rather than black and white, a lot of which comes from Stig’s fine playing.
The sledgehammer comes in the form of Mayorga’s drumming and Janiak’s vocals, and actually, the lyrics. It’s a personal thing I know, but I want lyrics to make me work to understand and make sense of them, to find the context intended by the writer, to have to follow twists and turns and maybe even esoteric or obscure references (pretentious, moi?). The lyrical content here is pretty straightforward in its composition, themes, and execution, and you know what, there’s nowt wrong with that, nothing at all.
Let Them Eat Fake is a shoo-in for my list when the Shaman comes calling for a Top Ten of 2023, probably my top five. With a different lyrical twist, a sophomore offering could very sit atop the whole heap.
Scribed by: George Green