Artist: False Coda

Album Title: Secrets And Sins

Label: Independent Release

Date Of Release: 31 October 2016

I get a lot of emails. Most of them are from PR companies, labels and bands asking me to take a listen to the latest ‘hot new thing’ or something along those lines. I do my best to listen to something of every album even if I don’t have the time to reply individually. I would hazard a guess that the percentage of music that I’m impressed enough with to review on the Blog of Much Metal is down somewhere around 30% due largely to the fact that much of it sits in a genre or subgenre that I’m not so keen on or because it’s simply not very good.

However, every so often I get sent something that piques my interest. A week or two back, I received an email directly from a Greek band called False Coda. I dutifully took a listen to a track on Youtube that features on the prog metallers’ sophomore album ‘Secrets And Sins’. Whilst not initially bowled over, I heard enough within it to press the download button and check out the entire album. And here I am reviewing it, meaning that it was a decision well made.

I suspect that False Coda might be a name largely unknown by readers of this blog. As such, allow me to offer a little insight into the band. Formed in 2009, False Coda are a progressive metal quintet that hail from the Greek capital Athens. The band was created by two brothers, drummer Andreas Milios and guitarist Vasilis Milios and after several apparent line-up changes, are now joined in their venture by vocalist Stefanos Zafeiropolous, bassist Nick Pogkas and keyboardist Lefteris Kapetanios. Their debut, ‘Closer To The Edge’ was released in 2014 leading to a support slot with Evergrey in 2015.

Nevertheless, this is my first exposure to False Coda and I cannot speak too highly of it.

After several spins through, not only does the music get better and more enjoyable, a few things become clear. Firstly, I love the warmth that emanates from the nine tracks. There are moments of heavier aggression littered throughout the album but nevertheless, ‘Secrets and Sins’ is a warm and inviting listen. It is also deceptively complex. False Coda are genuinely progressive in terms of technicality and the abundance of ideas within the music but, in a similar way to bands like Kingcrow, they are deceptively complex. The style of False Coda is to keep the songs very much at the forefront of their mind, so that you feel compelled to return for repeated listens rather than be put off by impenetrable technicality.

And, whilst it is fair to say that False Coda aren’t really offering anything massively unique or ground breaking, what they do is of an extremely high quality and increasingly enjoyable as time goes on.

Photo credit: Pavlos Mavridis

Photo credit: Pavlos Mavridis

The opening track, ‘Throne Of Blood’ sets the tone for the album very nicely indeed. An almost oriental-sounding melody ushers in a vibrant up-tempo prog metal track, layered with synths, a great riff and a pounding rhythmic heart courtesy of Andreas Milios and Nick Pogkas. As the track calms down, in come the vocals from Stefanos Zafeiropolous and I’m a happy man as the delivery is very palatable indeed. As the intensity increases, there’s an increase in guitar chops and angry-sounding vocals as Zafeiropolous demonstrates he has an imposing bark to compliment his softer side. I return to that description of warmth, as the song then veers into vaguely jazzy territory, led by a keyboard solo and prominent bass work from Nick Pogkas. The central melody returns frequently, carrying the listener away on the crest of a memorable wave and as it comes to a close, I’m smiling from ear to ear. Have I have found a new progressive metal band to wax lyrical about?

Indeed I have, as the positives keep on coming. ‘New Paradigm’ offers a much more hard rock-influenced delivery. Again, the keys of Lefteris Kapetanios are all over the track, adding a great depth to the music but there are moments of magic from every corner of the band it has to be said. Guitar and keyboard solos, funky slap bass, intricate drum work and interesting vocals all vie for the listener’s attention as the track unfolds.

The title track is one of the longer pieces on the album, extending beyond the eight-minute mark but it is worthy of its extended length as it weaves plenty of different ingredients into the aural recipe. It begins with a dark vibe and lots of bold instrumental embellishments. Zafeiropolous even lets forth a growl or two as the aggression mounts before giving way to a strong melodic chorus that gets lodged in my head. A couple of the heavier riffs verge on more modern djent territory but instead of grating on me, I find them to be a welcome change of pace.

If anything, ‘Flickering Lights’ is even more memorable thanks to my favourite chorus melody on the entire album. It opens with this gorgeous motif before veering into something quieter, more brooding and with an electronic touch. However, before long, the truly epic-sounding chorus cuts in to blow me away. It’s thoroughly infectious and is enhanced by a passionate vocal performance, before being juxtaposed by a beast of a stomping riff, again overlaid by lashings of keys. A guitar solo then enters the fray over the central melody before the chorus returns one last time to close the all-too-short track with panache.

Lead single ‘Monolith’ creates an entirely different vibe as it experiments with 70s doom to deliver something much slower and more deliberate, not to mention darker and slightly sinister overtones. It is credit to the band that it works so well within its surroundings, showing how adept and open to experimentation these guys are. A guest guitar solo from Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, ex-Nevermore) is the icing on this particular cake.

‘Moment’ typifies that warm and welcoming feel that False Coda create so well. It borrows much from the likes of Dream Theater in terms of the tones and textures used and benefits from an exquisite extended guitar solo that ebbs and flows between fast and melodious, building to a point where it just lets go with glorious abandon. I’m a sucker for a guitar solo and this one from Vasilis Milios is just marvellous.

There are other excellent moments to be heard including ‘Truth And Lies’, complete with rich piano notes and gorgeous melodies, making it one of the most instantly likeable tracks on the album. Or moody closer ‘California’ which again produces a bit of curveball by being completely different to what has gone before, albeit delivering yet another spine-tingling lead guitar solo towards its conclusion.

When I find a ‘new’ progressive metal band that I like, I become very happy. However, False Coda have made me ecstatic with ‘Secrets And Sins’. It isn’t perhaps the most original of releases but it is so on-point with what it does, I don’t care. The performances are strong, but even stronger is the quintet’s ability to compose properly engaging songs whilst retaining a great deal of impressive technicality and complexity. This is real prog metal where the songs come first and as a result, I bloody love this record.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.75

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMyPw51PoOg&w=560&h=315]

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

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