Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: The Faceless - Autotheism

Band: The Faceless
Album: Autotheism
Year: 2012
Country: USA
Genre: Technical/Progressive Death Metal

When I read the The Faceless used to be a deathcore band I almost didn’t believe it. Autotheism is the only album I have heard of theirs (and I only listened based on the praise it had gotten) and at this moment it is quite easily my favorite modern progressive death metal album. This is a long ways from anything deathcore. In addition to being progressive, Autotheism is also quite technical as well and for me this is like killing two birds with one stone. Autotheism is actually a concept of sorts, telling the story as the name suggests of a man who forsakes traditional religion and believes himself to be god.

The albums first 3 tracks are actually one long song separated into movements. This is one of my favorite parts about progressive music and the band successfully pulls off repeating themes from earlier in the song at different points. The guitarists start Create off at a slow almost alternative metal like sound, and yet as soon as that song is over Emancipate kicks in and so does the shred. Michael Keene and Wes Hauch show their skills throughout the album with noodling guitar solos and extremely fast riffing. The best part is that it totally fits, all of it. It doesn’t feel like they are using guitar wankery in a masturbatory manner and it comes off as solely for the benefit of the music and story being told. So while the wank is there it isn’t done in a shameful way.

Lyle Cooper’s drumming is just as insane as the guitar parts. He keeps up and when the guitars shred he shoots off at a frenetic yet composed pace. Yet when the band slows down (which they do a number of times like in Create,  Deconsecrate, and 10 Billion Years) he can slow down as well though sometimes he will still let loose with double bass which seems at odds with the slower guitars and snare. The bass is the least interesting part of the album though. It mostly sticks to mimicking the guitar riffs but hey at least you can hear Evan Brewer’s contribution.

There are both clean and harsh vocals on Autotheism.  While Geoffrey Ficco does the harsh vocals using deep death growls Michael Keene does the cleans. I find Keene’s clean singing to be a bit more interesting than Ficco’s death growls. His singing sounds a lot like Jeffrey Nothing from Mushroomhead, except he sounds a lot better and less cartoonish.

There are a lot of interesting elements on the album that keep it in stark contrast to most regular death metal albums. The acoustic intro to In Solitude and the saxophone on Deconsecrate are especially nice touches. There are also a decent amount of keys throughout that sometimes take precedence and provide a lot of atmosphere.  Especially the very church like keys at the start of Deconsecrate, how very appropriate!

Autotheism has a lot going for it. There is enough progressive elements to make it stand apart from just being another generic death metal album and the technical musicianship only adds to that. Keene has a great singing voice as well and each song is memorable and  has things that make them stand apart from each other, even the first 3 tracks that are actually movements of one song. I actually feel like they are kind of doing a more streamlined version of what Between the Buried and Me do but in a death metal fashion. I really can’t find any fault with what The Faceless have put forth here and commend them for also including an interesting lyrical concept to go along with the interesting music, and making them fit. I would recommend Autotheism to anyone who likes progressive type metal or those willing to have a try for something that’s a bit off the beaten path.

Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: Create, Deconsecrate, In Solitude

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