Review: False Confession

False Confession, Out of the Basement Demo CD Queer Pills

Sometime in the Spring of 1985 I was in Seattle. This was always a big thing. Seattle was six hours away from my home town, Walla Walla, at the opposite corner of the state, and I wasn’t likely to get there more than once or twice a year.

As a result, I remember clearly going down to Time Travellers near the market and I recall quite clearly what I got there. Among other things, these included Articles of Faith’s blazing Give Thanks LP, the MisfitsEarth A.D./Wolfs Blood 12”, and the Condemned to Death 7”.

The pick of the litter (so to speak) was a six-song 7” by False Confession. I have to admit that I bought it because of the cover. I’d never heard of them, but the cover featured a skeleton with charged hair stabbing a dagger into a cross. This kind of thing is always a gamble. I’ve bought plenty of records with cool covers that turned out to be garbage. But this wasn’t one of them.

As was so often the case, I listened to the B-side first and was treated to “Our Savior,” dark and metallic and urgent. That set the tone for most of the other five songs, although there were a couple of slower cuts that sounded a bit more like 45 Grave. This record was my jam for months. Unlike the AoF LP, which was also great, False Confession didn’t require a lot of thought to get into.

I sometimes think that Oxnard must have been really a shit town to grow up in, since there were a lot of great bands that came out of that town in the 1980s (Aggression, Ill Repute, Dr. Know, etc., etc.). Then again, Walla Walla was a pretty boring, hyper-Christian desert and we only produced two bands in my era, Blah (who I think opened for Riistytet at one point) and Roadkill (only around for a short time and half of that band was from Milton-Freewater anyway). Tri-Cities, about an hour’s drive away, produced Diddly Squat, who were fucking awesome. But generally speaking, there wasn’t much going on. But Oxnard, yeah, there were definitely some things happening there.

The False Confession 7”, which is sometimes called Left to Burn after the opening cut, came out on Doug Moody’s Mystic label. There was talk that there was something hinky about the terms under which Moody put things out. I don’t know enough to render a judgment on it. I do know that he produced a lot of good records from bands that might not have seen the light of day otherwise. About anything else, one would need to ask the people involved.

False Confession don’t seem to have been around for very long in their original incarnation, although I get this impression from this short interview with guitarist Fred Matatquin that they’ve been around on and off ever since. Matatquin went on to play in Dr. Know, and there’s a song on the demo (“Social Puppet”) that he clearly repurposed into a Dr. Know song under another title. Anyway, Dr. Know were a great band. I saw them a couple of times back in the day and they were awesome live, although I kind of got the impression they’d gotten rather tired of playing “Fist Fuck” every night. Also, one of the original members went on to be in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, about which probably the less said the better.

Anyway, I was nosing around on the web, as one does, the other day and I noticed that Queer Pills put out False Confession’s demo. This is the kind of thing that happens a lot these days, and often I’m a little torn about it. There were a lot of bands in the 1980s who made a lot of cool stuff and didn’t get paid. To an extent, that wasn’t the point anyway. But having eaten a lot of raw Top Ramen back in the day, I can understand how one might look at the current landscape and think that it might be nice to generate a little interest.

To be clear, I don’t for a second think that this particular project was done for pecuniary motives. It also doesn’t seem like a matter of antiquarian interest (it does look like False Confession have played some shows in the last few years). This is not one of those (extremely disappointing) moments when a band digs out some cassette that blew in the 80’s. Half the time that stuff was recorded on a boom box on a cassette that used to have something else on it. I still remember getting the Accüsed‘s demo back in the day and it came on a cassette stamped something like “Mariner High School Language Arts Department.” I’ve heard a lot of stuff released that really should never have seen the light of day (and here I will do people the courtesy of not naming names).

False Confession’s Out of the Basement Demo is decidedly not in this category. In fact, it is exactly what I want. Four of the six cuts from the 7” are represented here (the exceptions being “Left to Burn” and “Feline”), as well as fourteen other cuts. It should come as no surprise that the recordings are rawer and less polished than those found on the 7”. But in this case, the rawness adds to the quality, rather than the opposite. There is a kind of 1-2-3-4 fury to these cuts coupled with a dark atmosphere that lifts this above the general run of demos.

Out of the Basement opens with “Our Savior,” arguably their best cut and one of the most ripping USHC tunes ever. The opening is a little more uncertain, but then they absolutely rip the lid off and head off with blistering aggression. This disc barely lets you come up for breath. There is a kind of dark swirl to their music that results from the lower quality recording values, but ends up giving one the feeling of looking into a nightmare world of rage and speed.

This disc has been my jam for the week or so ever since I discovered it. It takes me back to the era of punk when hardcore was…what…a lot simpler? Maybe it didn’t seem that way at the time. There was a thrill of discovery back in those days which is hard to recreate, that feeling of owning a secret when you opened a box in the mail for the first time and pulled out a record that neither you nor your friends had ever heard. Finding False Confession’s Out of the Basement Demo was something like that. This record is a treat for fans of stripped-down, uncompromising USHC and a real treasure that I never expected to find.

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