METAL | 41mins
Following their Sophomore release, “Planetary Duality,” The Faceless have undergone a facelift, with only the core musical visionary, clean vocalist and lead guitarist Michael Keene and drummer Lyle Cooper sticking around. Joining the line-up for “Autotheism” are bass prodigy Evan Brewer and first-album guitarist Wes Hauch. Seeing such a rampant and sudden shift in membership from a band is typically a tell-tale sign to have low-expectations for a new release. However, what was released instead was shining evidence of Keene’s genius as both a songwriter and guitarist.
“Autotheism” is the sort of album that beats you bloody and then lifts you up to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, just to grab you by the throat and beat you to the ground all over again. Opening with an intense classical arrangement, featuring wavering string arpeggios coupled with blasting industrial drumbeats, “Autotheism” doesn’t take its time assuring the listener that things are about to get intense. The break into distortion comes as a perfect transition into Keene’s singing, which can best be described as a far more coherent Eddie Vedder. Vocalist Geoffrey Ficco hisses in the background as the guitars and basses build into a beautiful transition for the growls — the genre’s signature — to take over while maintaining a solid harmony between the clean and dirty vocals. It’s a technique that shows the obvious creative influence of Progressive Death Metal pioneer Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth.
A heavy Opeth influence is found throughout “Autotheism”, “In Solitude” opens with an acoustic guitar arpeggio that almost suspiciously resembles “Dirge for November” off of Opeth’s “Blackwater Park” LP. That soon changes. Following a sing-songy post-intro, “In Solitude” gives a unique and jarring transition that will leave you with goose bumps as the growls and screams take over to create a powerful, brutal yet somehow thoughtful piece of technical prowess. This is how much of “Autotheism” plays out, as a constant musical development with each song carrying a crescendo climaxing in coldly calculated metal madness.
What separates The Faceless from their Prog Metal contemporaries like Between the Buried and Me is that even though most songs clock in around six minutes on “Autotheism,” there is never a break in the flow. Each song, though spanning different techniques, experimentations and genres, isn’t broken up into “beginning, middle and end” portions. If a song starts with a soft acoustic segment, the riff is coming up later in the song, maybe even later in the album, as it plays out as one long, metal masterpiece.
FOR FANS OF: Opeth, Obscura, Necrophagist, Between the Buried and Me