Oakland, California trio False Figure‘s latest release Castigations follows up from 2019s A Promised End EP, 2018s Self-Titled full-length debut, and the Cardinal Cross/Exhale single from 2017. There is also a demo from 2016 which can be found along with the aforementioned releases on the group’s Bandcamp page.
What stood out initially about Castigations and a key component behind my decision to cover it, was the fantastic artwork by guitarist/vocalist Andrés Ruiz; this is of a suitably dark nature and unsurprising when you take into consideration the musical genres they fit into (more on this later in the review). This is especially highlighted by the presence of what looks to be a scythe, associative as it is with the grim reaper and death.
Listening to Plexus one could envisage being back in the 1980s with some of the bleakest yet danceable sounds that decade had to offer. Think Joy Division and early New Order, the bass work definitely had me thinking of Hooky (Peter Hook) as it is the driving force behind the music. A perfect balance of light and shade with which to open the album. Samsara reminds one a little of The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds, which is up there as one of my all-time favourite albums, the heightened tension recalling tracks such as A Forest. A fantastic number.
Remember The Wraith’s Gloom Ballet record from 2019? Well to me that’s what Sadist Lament echoes, even down to the vocal line, as well as any of the artists from the two fantastic Killed By Deathrock compilations. Much like The Wraith, Death Pact takes its inspiration from Killing Joke’s apocalyptic post-punk and proto-industrial riffing while Asunder marks the album’s halfway point and is an absolute melancholy delight to listen to. The word asunder can refer to being apart or separate, and seeing as some of the themes of the album mentioned in the promo notes refer to failed relationships and losing loved ones, this makes perfect sense when taking into consideration the emotions conveyed in the track.
Never has that sense of suffocation and isolation been conveyed so well as it is here…
Possession is the first single released from Castigations and thematically covers a controlling jealous lover and the helplessness of their victim. Never has that sense of suffocation and isolation been conveyed so well as it is here, it has a sense of drama that the Valor Kand fronted era of Christian Death always seemed to strive for but never quite captured (in my opinion). Bare feels like a natural continuation of the preceding number while Faim once again taps into The Cure with a little TSOL Change Today era thrown in for good measure. The vocals are not as Jim Morrison influenced as Joe Wood’s, but there is definitely a similar dark and deep gothic baritone present with what Ruiz does.
The Absence feels comparatively lighter in tone with its new wave flourishes ala The Chameleons and also contains some nice shoegaze style ambience too, no objections here that’s for sure and it certainly makes for a refreshing change in style. Tyrant Heart is the aural equivalent of total heartbreak, its sense of dejection and yearning actually reminds me of a less acerbic Type O Negative. The heavier gothic rock vibes to be had here brings the album to a gratifyingly depressive conclusion.
There is a crude expression that boils down to sleeping with a random stranger as a way of getting over a lost relationship/loved one, my personal recommendation however would be to listen to False Figure. They have an innate ability to make the most painful of separations bearable with ten tracks of superlative darkwave post-punk.
Scribed by: Reza Mills