Thursday, 23 August 2012

Review: The Faceless - Autotheism

 It is indeed difficult to come up with a new way to discuss the new wave of technical metal bands and with California quintet The Faceless, things are no different. Of course, The Faceless proved themselves throughout their 2006 and 2009 efforts Akeldama and Planetary Duality to be a band made up of various different elements that proved them to be a more diverse group than their peers. They have enough brutality packed within their songwriting to allow them to tour with Cannibal Corpse and are technically impressive enough to land a tour with Meshuggah and that's all while being part of the often-slated Sumerian Records, a record label that has been known to put more emphasis on the unwelcome poppy side of metal. You have to admit they've proved themselves an impressive group somewhere along the way. If you're unsure yet, perhaps their latest offering Autotheism should make you come up with some sort of reconsideration.

 3 years onward from Planetary Duality, The Faceless have taken their time to witness changes amongst the world of metal, and have taken it into their own hands to deliver something more potent and powerful than any other of their contemporaries. The resulting effect sees all the group's passion, energy and overwhelming creativity go into their third album that delivers many a refreshing and unexpected result along the way.

The most notable feature is the building up of the album into a grander and more atmospheric affair than anything they've done on previous releases. Some of the album's most tense moments come from the sole use of symphonic backdrops, as each stroke of violin strikes fear and overwhelming power into the minds and hearts of listeners. Maybe it's the sheer extent to which symphonic music has no place on a death metal album, which all and all makes it a much more curious affair with unpredictable results.

 The more surprising fact about the moments in which the sheer monolith-ism of Micheal Keene's battering riffs hit throughout the album is in the fact that it doesn't really sound that contrasting from the more subtle moments and symphonies and melodies. A seamless flow exists across the set of nine songs and it really serves as testament to Keene's role as chief songwriter. That and the extra emphasis of melody itself. Sections of Accelerated Evolution and In Solitude feature the kind of progressive melodies which sound more like that which Devin Townsend would pen down and the opening trilogy of Autotheist Movement serves as a perfectly absorbing work of progressive death metal that so many bands have attempted to do by mixing aired out passages with generic deathcore breakdowns, (Here's looking at you Spawn of Possession) yet sounds perfect here in a way that shows a genuinely natural progression.

 Of course those wanting brutality will not be let down by the sheer density of the album either. Hymn of Sanity is a complete blur of monstrous guitar battering that in conjunction with the in your face death growls of lead vocalist Geoffrey Ficco, however a crushing weight can be found anywhere you look, with the lead guitar of Wes Hauch managing to be just as thick amidst frantic solos as the main riffs from Keene, which is a genuinely surprising and mind-shaking feature.

 So, while it's still hard to think of anything new or revolutionary to say about The Faceless, Autotheism should realistically be impossible not to fall head over heels for. The mixture of death metal and progressive melodies has never sounded so captivating nor has served as such a considerable force in songwriting so much to the extent that Keene's clean vocals have a much bigger and engaging role across the album. It's with this that The Faceless should see their time to step up and dominate the new wave of technical metal and Micheal Keene be recognised as one of metal's best songwriters today. Again, it's difficult to discuss the new wave of tech metal bands now, but an easy thing to say is that The Faceless are the best going right now.

The Faceless' Autotheism is out now via Sumerian.

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