The Skinny: Never mind the fucking lame-ass Calgary Stampede… you know, the annual 10-day rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. If you want the REAL Calgary Stampede then look no further than the blistering metal quartet, False Flag.
The press release lauds Calgary’s False Flag as the Canadian answer to Meshuggah and, while there are certainly elements of those Swedish juggernauts in the mix, I wouldn’t quite go that far. In fact, labeling them as a “Meshuggah clone” actually does the band a disservice as they are certainly their own beast entirely. They have a lot of modern metalcore influences (think along the lines of The Acacia Strain), and I certainly hear some faint echoes of Machine Head in there, but they are taking it in their own unique direction. Vocalist Russ Gauthier mixes things up quite a bit with a wide range of vocal styles – from death metal growls, to hardcore screams, to straight up clean singing – and he pulls each one off extremely well. It’s like having multiple vocalists in the band and it certainly is a welcome breath of fresh air in a genre where most vocalists have one just one gear. I’m also quite fond of the guitar work, especially in terms of the composition of the lead guitar work. It’s not gonna blow you away like Rings of Saturn or anything like that, but guitarists Mike Harach and the aforementioned Gauthier definitely take their time to carefully craft every phrase and note. The solos are like mini-songs within songs, especially as evidenced in the closing solo on track 3, “Reversion of Sin”, and I just love when bands take the time and care to do shit like that as it just adds so much more to the overall impact of the music. The main riff of track 2, “Perfidious” is worth the price of admission alone with its gnarly use of harmonics. The best track of the 4 found here is definitely the closing title track where the band really lets it all hang out with multiple tempos shifts and a go-for-the-throat attitude. These guys don’t just write riffs, they craft songs and that’s the best compliment I can give any band. I look forward to hearing a full length from these guys as if they can keep up this kind of quality over the course of a full album then they will definitely be a forced to be reckoned with on the metal scene.