Four years ago, Bush was President, we were in China competing in the Olympics, and a little label called Sumerian Records released an album called Planetary Duality by a band known as The Faceless. That album was hailed as a technical death metal masterpiece and landed them massive tours with such bands as Meshuggah and Cannibal Corpse. Four years later, Sumerian is now one of the biggest labels in metal, and after many delays (including losing 3/5 of the Planetary Duality lineup) The Faceless finally released their latest album, Autotheism. In those four years, what’s changed?
Well, a lot.
Just by pressing play, you’ll be able to tell this is a different Faceless than what we’re accustomed too. There’s piano, an orchestra, and Michael Keene’s voice taking center stage. However, it lasts for a short time, when we get to “Emancipate” and the Faceless we all know and love returns. However, it’s marked with a lot more melody than what we see on the other two albums. This is something pervasive throughout the entire album, and I’m certainly not complaining about it. Even when The Faceless is at their most “Faceless-esque” (The Eidolon Reality) they’re still holding true to this evolution. And it’s absolutely welcome in a genre that’s full of people who seem to be trying to out-play everyone else.
How do the new members fare? New vocalist Geoff Ficco is every bit as good as Derek Rydquist if not better. New guitarist Wes Hauch actually helped pen one of the songs on the new album, “Ten Billion Years”, and it’s certainly one of the most epic on the album. Believe the hype behind new bassist Evan Brewer. He’s fucking good. His bass lines are both technically savvy and not overpowering, but they’re certainly in the mix to be appreciated.
That said, there are some knocks on the album. Sometimes the orchestrations don’t need to be there, and they’ve left me cocking my head sideways. Furthermore, I feel as if Keene is nervous about his singing abilities. He’s certainly not bad, and good for him for stepping it up the way he did, and I think this is something that will be fixed on the next album, but that nervousness is there, and I feel like he can be a lot more powerful and projective once he overcomes that.
Overall, the reason I’ve been a fan of The Faceless is because their music takes you places. It’s been about more than just seeing how hard Michael Keene can shred. On Autotheism, they’ve managed to take this critique of religion and amplify it. You’ll be surfing this journey for a long time…hopefully not another four years though.
1. Autotheism Movement I: Create
2. Autotheism Movement II: Emancipate
3. Autotheism Movement III: Deconsecrate
4. Accelerated Evolution
5. The Eidolon Reality
6. Ten Billion Years
7. Hail Science
8. Hymn of Sanity
9. In Solitude