Band: The Faceless
Label: Sumerian Records
Released: August 14, 2012
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Last week I had the pleasure of listening to the latest release from Californian Tech death band The Faceless. It should be noted I have probably listened to it about 30-40 times in the span of the week from front to back and have been excited to hit the replay button every damn time. Many fans of the band have noted that this album is a bit of a disappointment in comparison to previous releases; however, I am hear to say that this album is truly incredible.
Autotheism is a concept album exploring the idea of a man who decides to shed all belief in any god and instead worships himself as the only true god. The lyrics fit beautifully to this idea and carry the entire story of the album perfecty. I am personally quite a fan of concept albums and this album is no exception to that fact. Lyrically one of my favorite moments on the entire album is part three of the initial epic “Autotheism” where Michael Keene operatically states “God is dead!” While possibly offensive to religious folk, you can not argue that Keene’s vocals are hauntingly beautiful at this very moment and that the lyrics were a powerful statement that set the tone for the album.
While I state that Michael Keene’s vocals were stellar, it has stirred up much debate among fans of the band, who believe that the clean vocals were over done and strayed too far from the bands previous sound. Many fans like that the clean vocals were always a nice touch to the album, but having Autotheism almost entirely carried by them left something to be desired. The Faceless have evolved with this album exploring new styles and sounds. This is something I always love to see in bands. Exploring your horizons while still keeping true to your sound. Autotheism is a testament to that fact. New ideas and styles were explored and that stirred the pot with the fanbase. Personally I thought the Micheal Akerfeldt/Devin Townsend feel was incredible and that the growling was the perfect spice to the album that pushed the intensity to a new level.
Not only was there a change in style but also a new vocalist was hired to replace Geoff Ficco. Derek Rydquist, the new vocalist has a very similar growling style to Geoff and not only that, he sounded better. His growls felt smoother and more powerful at the same time and worked wonderfully with the entire feel of this album.
As for the music in this album, to say it was technical would be an understatement. From each and every instruments the incredible talent from each member was displayed. Blistering guitar solos filled with sweeping and beautifully interwoven jazzy bass in the background. Not only was it technical, but the sound was incredible pleasing to the ears. Sometimes technical death metal is plagued by the fact it just sounds like a bunch of extremely talented musicians that know their musical theory inside out, but don’t put “soul” into their music. The Faceless is quite the opposite. This album was driven by catchy and technical riffs and I could always sense the passionate side to the music, not just the flash of brilliantly composed technical flamboyance. Not only that, but on the the track “Autheism III – Deconsecrate” there was an incredible saxaphone solo by Sergio Flores that not only caught my attention but added just the right amount of flair without being out of place.
As for the production on the album it was produced by Michael Keene himself as were the previous albums, but this album definitely felt like it was produced a lot better and some fans have even stated their discontent feeling it was overproduced. Personally I thought the production value was incredible apart from a few issues. There is a minor clipping issue in between parts I and II of the track “Autotheism” that caused the flow into the second song to feel a little off, but overall it was pretty minor. My only other issue with this album was the use of “Microsoft Sam” in the track “Hail Science” To me it felt like a cheap way of doing things and it did feel a little off. That being said this was another minor issue with the album.
This album is truly a technical marvel that also sounded incredible. It’s combination of smooth legatos and aggressive technicality proved The Faceless truly have a lead spot in today’s tech death scene.
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