Song Debut: Great Falls – “Milk From Treason”

Following musicians over the course of their careers can produce a strange time-lapse effect. You don’t get to watch them age and mature as players in real time; instead, you catch only momentary glimpses of their evolution. It’s like watching a distant relative grow up entirely through Christmas card photos.

I first became aware of guitarist Demian Johnston’s playing via the influential noisecore band Kiss It Goodbye’s Choke EP, which almost landed them a deal with Sub Pop. (Instead, they broke up.) Johnston went on to form Playing Enemy with some of his KIG cohorts. Despite their potent pedigree and general awesomeness, Playing Enemy never really took off. The band toured aggressively and put out a sizable discography, but by the mid-aughts, the wave of enthusiasm for noisy metalcore that lifted Kiss It Goodbye had broken and rolled back. Playing Enemy were left high and dry. They broke up in 2006.

Johnston and latter-day Playing Enemy cohort/Decibel scribe Shane Mehling formed Great Falls shortly thereafter. Though the band has now been active for close to five years, they’ve somehow escaped my notice. Their new album, Accidents Grotesque, is a good way to become acquainted. The band recently replaced their drum machine with former Jesu drummer Phil Petrocelli, who turns in a virtuoso performance here. He and Mehling zig and zag beneath Johnston’s signature trenchant chord work, but they deliver with a laser-focused intensity that reminds me of the latter days of former Playing Enemy labelmates Anodyne. Johnston’s riffwork here is among the best of his career; the recurring pressurized groove in “Milk From Treason” is catchier than anything so jagged has any right to be. Given the renewed public interest in this kind of caustic metalcore (think KEN mode), Accidents Grotesque has a better shot at a broad audience than anything Johnston has done in years. It is good to hear that the relations are doing well for themselves.

Stream “Milk From Treason” below. Accidents Grotesque comes out on September 30 via Hell Comes Home.

— Doug Moore