Exclusive: False Gods — Meet Metal’s Newest True Believers

Try this homework assignment:

1. Form a new band with six musicians from China and Canada.
2. Make sure they’re all well-versed in a wide array of heavy-metal genres.
3. Assemble the project during the pandemic.
4. Release an album before the lockdowns end.
5. Play a few shows around the time of the album release.

Somehow, music phenom Yuqiao Man managed to pull off that impossible-sounding feat over the past two years.

The result is False Gods, who brew a bodacious blend of black metal, death metal, thrash, metalcore and deathcore. (And a little jazz too, for good measure.) The sextet’s bold, experimental vision rivals that of Code Orange, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Turnstile.

False Gods self-released their debut album, Embrace Eternal Suffering, in late October. It packs a taste tart enough to pique the interest of any heavy-music fan. The band proved as much during recent performances opening for vets Incite and Necronomicon.

False Gods’ centrifugal force is Yuqiao Man, a student attending “Collège d’enseignement general et professionnel” (CEGEP). Under the tutelage of a supportive music teacher, the guitarist/songwriter recorded two demos plus Embrace Eternal Suffering and recruited the band members.

Bassist Yisheng Jiang and guitarist/songwriter Yuqiao Man

“I started writing when I was 14,” he recently told The Bad Penny during an hourlong interview featuring five-sixths of the band. “It all actually went pretty quick during the pandemic. I wrote all the guitar parts first, then the drums. After that, I wrote parts for additional instruments, like orchestra — and bass too, of course. Once all that was all done, we filled in the lyrics.”

A few lineup changes didn’t slow down the project, Man says. In fact, it worked out for the best, as the six musicians who now comprise False Gods all knew each other as friends first.

Rounding out the lineup are Yan Pilon (guitar), Noah Muller (drums), Félix Kemptner (vocals), Yichen Zhao (vocals) and Yisheng Jiang (bass). The band members — who are 19, 20 or 21 years old — bonded over a shared love of deathcore masters Shadow of Intent and Megadeth.

Ensuring that False Gods’ material sound like their own, the new configuration is re-recording some of the demos, starting with a reprise of “Time for Heresy,” with new lyrics and vocals from Kemptner and Zhao.

Vocalists Félix Kemptner and Yichen Zhao

“I actually got to be part of the first False Gods show,” Zhao noted. “Yisheng and I had only talked on the Internet back in China when he asked if I wanted to be the second vocalist for the band. It was only after I went to Montreal to play the show there that I met him and discovered the city, which is very supportive of arts and music.”

The show went so well that False Gods recruited Zhao as their second vocalist.

“I love exchanging vocal lines with Yichen,” Kemptner said. “We have a similar vibe and aesthetics.”

Guitarist Yan Pilon

Pilon explained: “Félix was our main vocalist at the time, but we had booked our first show during a time when he was going to be on vacation in Austria visiting family. We didn’t want to say no to the show, so we looked for a backup [singer] and found Yichen.”

For his own part, Pilon had just left a different band, and knew Muller from their time playing thrash and death-metal covers together.

“I went to this random party, grabbed a guitar and started playing a few metal tunes — Megadeth and Metallica,” Pilon recalled. “Nic said to me, ‘We’re looking for a new guitarist. Would you like to audition?’ I seized the opportunity. Yuqiao and I met privately a week later, and that was it.”

Kemptner and Man wrote the majority of the lyrics on about half of Embrace Eternal Suffering: “Treachery,” “Lunar World,” “Le Parfum” and “Damned Retribution.” Nic Tremblay, one of False Gods’ original vocalists who continues to remain good friends with the band, also contributed a big chunk of the lyrics.

“I’ve restructured and changed some of the words, going a bit more in-depth,” Kemptner said.

The lyrical content on Embrace Eternal Suffering is next-level, especially for a young band. “Peace Is a Lie” takes a critical look at warfare in the Middle East, while “Damned Retribution” recounts the Greek myth of Sisyphus trying forever (literally) to push a boulder up a hill.

Treachery” hits closer to home. It explores the horrific genocide of indigent schoolchildren in Canada — the scope of which was recently revealed to be even bigger than previously thought.

Chasse-galerie” is another distinctly French-Canadian song — and it outdoes Gojira and their magical “Flying Whales.” The story arose in the 1800s and revolves around lumberjacks who, after making a deal with the devil, ride a flying canoe home to see their families.

The sound mix featured on Embrace Eternal Suffering will make other young bands cry. With some help from Man’s music teacher, Kang Mao Mao; another musician or two Kang knows; and Tchop Shop’s Anthony Lepage (who helped with the vocal recordings), the band completed the LP. (Kang is featured on “Damned Retribution.”)

Man threw down for the recording, as well as the band’s merch — ensured that all the instruments had clear separation.

“We wanted to make sure the mix sounded aggressive, so it came across as modern,” he said. “Also, I have a lot of small melody lines. For example, in ‘Treachery,’ there’s guitar picking and some ambient singing and a big arpeggio on the bass.”

Pilon agreed.

“We’re all fans of modern, trebly, punchy bass tones,” he said.

False Gods are currently playing four songs from their debut, as well as its intro and one of the demos. They can’t wait to play more material live — when time finally allows. Thus far, they’ve been relegated to sets that only last 30 to 40 minutes.

Nonetheless, some of those shows were unforgettable. The Necronomicon gig marked False Gods’ first time playing at Les Foufounes Electriques, which has a capacity of 615.

If you didn’t already guess, False Gods have ambitious plans. In addition to re-recording some demos and playing a gig in January, they want to drop a new EP late next year.

They’re also, somehow, rehearsing at least once a week.

Drummer Noah Muller

“It’s hard, but we make it work, even if we only have five people,” Muller admitted. “Each of us practices at home, and we warn each other not to sound like shit the following week if one of us misses a rehearsal.”

Death to false metal. Long live False Gods.

Catch up with the latest on False Gods on their Facebook page.

Check out — and buy! — Embrace Eternal Suffering on False Gods’ Bandcamp page. The page also features some of their demos for free download.

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