Friday, 30 November 2012

Featured Artiste: The Faceless

I had heard good things about The Faceless from a few friends over the past few months without actually listening extensively to their music (strange, because The Faceless are actually immensely popular in the death metal arena), so I thought that I should finally get down and check them out.

I must say that three days of listening almost exclusively to their music has been entertaining and enjoyable. The Faceless are the epitome of a modern metal band - they are at once youthful, energetic, heavy and technical and manage to straddle the fine line that separates each of those characteristics masterfully.

'Leica', off their 2006 album 'Akeldama', starts with an absolute bang and does not let up one bit. The pedants and purists (i.e. douchebags) among us might trash The Faceless for their '-core' sound in here, when in fact the band demonstrates that it is entirely possible to achieve a heavy and full overall sound despite the use of riffs that would admittedly be more readily associated with lighter genres like metalcore and screamo. Key to this is their layered riffing, which can be heard at various points such as 1:54 into the video. This song can be enjoyed at a superficial level; listeners who open their ears are likewise rewarded for their discretion by the band.

Akeldama's titular track takes on a slightly less structured and more experimental approach. The drum work in this piece is an absolute treat to listen to, especially at around the two-minute mark. The band's use of odd time signatures and syncopated beats is tasteful and catchy without being pretentious. The solos scattered throughout the song make for a nice touch without detracting from the main theme. All these are remarkable feats for a relatively young band such as this.

'Planetary Duality I' and 'Planetary Duality II', taken off the band's second album (titled - you guessed it - 'Planetary Duality') reflect the band's movement towards an even more experimental direction. The album itself is a concept album that depicts a reptilian race called The Illuminati and its control over the world, thus accounting for the random (and admittedly slightly annoying) human wails and gasps at the beginning of Planetary Duality I. I don't fancy this album as much as I do Akeldama, but I can understand what the band are trying to achieve with it.

This understanding is aided with the benefit of context: check out 'Deconsecrate' from their 2012 album 'Autotheism' and you will understand what I was talking about prior. The band is further pushing its musical and artistic boundaries with this album. 'Deconsecrate' contains much of what makes The Faceless so easily accessible but at the same time has new elements that give it a completely different edge to much of The Faceless's earlier work. The lightly-distorted intro and clean vocals aren't to everyone's liking (I especially did not dig the copious amounts of auto-tune splashed onto every single sung syllable), but the saxophone lines in the middle and the guitar solos make the song a more-than-worthy listen. 'Autotheism' is far jazzier than its two predecessors, thanks in no small part to the influence of one Devin Townsend. Many of The Faceless' longtime followers have expressed their disgust/disappointment over the band's latest album; I must say that while it is the least accessible among the three, it contains the most musical depth and variety.

Overall, the band (by extreme metal standards) are a pretty easy and refreshing listen. I would absolutely recommend new fans to first pick up 'Akeldama' and listen to it in its entirety, then grab both 'Autotheism' and 'Planetary Duality' and listen to those two in the mentioned order, or simultaneously.

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