The Faceless
Akeldama


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jordan Smith USER (16 Reviews)
December 5th, 2006 | 499 replies | 45,533 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Techincal, Groovy, and Progressive, The Faceless's debut is all around impressive and deserves a lesson by an passionate fan of Heavy Music.

22 of 26 thought this review was well written

The Faceless are:
Michael Keene-Guitar, Vocals
Steve Jones-Guitar
Derek Rydquist-Vocals
Brandon Giffin-Bass
Michael Sherer-Keyboards
Nick Pierce-Drums

In the modern American Heavy Metal Scene, there is no doubt that a lot of bands are grouping together. Metalcore dominates the airwaves for the most part, holdings its share of standout bands(All That Remains and Unearth) as well as some of metal’s worst bands(Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold). However if an avid music fan is to search deeper than whatever Heavy Metal appears on Headbanger’s Ball they will find a wealth of Underground American Metal. Some of the bands are well established rulers of their genre like Death Metal titans Between the Buried and Me, while others are up and coming on their path to greatness like Melodic Death Metal band Arsis. Most importantly, there is a fresh new style of metal on the horizon, combining traditional Melodic Death Metal with rapid time changes and breakdowns.

So, where do The Faceless fit in this scene?

They, much like Arsis are a fairly new band gaining recognition in the metal scene. Although they are young, all ranging from their Teens to early twenties, they possess a ridiculous amount of technical skill and experience. Fresh off a tour with All Shall Perish and Arsis, they have released their new CD Akeldama. With its release, The Faceless show great promise as a band and claim a spot as leaders of the Death Metal Underground.

The Faceless combine strong harmonized leads, very reminiscent of At the Gates, with odd timings and brutal vocals. What really separates them from their peers however, is how they seamlessly combine a hyperactive sound while still retaining a flowing feel. Their sound ultimately comes out sounding like some kind of Melodic Death Metal on crack, but that is a good thing. Songs can change at the drop of a hat, and harmonized solos can give way to intense breakdowns. Much like Unearth, they have more or less perfected the art of the breakdown. They are able to use it to enhance their songs and do not just disappear with all the other Metalcore bands. Their breakdowns and bridges are anything but normal, often utilizing jazzy bass and warped rhythms to stay interesting. The hardcore influence in The Faceless is very present, conjuring up memories of Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come. Yes, The Faceless seamlessly combine Hardcore, Melodic Death Metal, and even a bit of Grindcore to craft themselves a small niche in the American Metal Scene. Just listen to Leica off their new CD, it explodes with classic metal riffage and pulls the listener in, however around the halfway mark drops off into a series of punishing breakdowns. All the while Electronic elements are introduced to the song to create an unsettling atmosphere, providing a polished and cohesive sound. It isn’t long before the breakdowns give way to incredibly catchy harmonized riffing and the track ends on the same note which it began. Of course, all this creativity would be nowhere without a solid backing band, which brings us to the instrumentation….

As a unit, The Faceless work extremely well. Heavily influenced by Between the Buried and Me and Nile, every member is crucial to the bands success. There is very little showing off of individual instruments, but their talent is undeniable. The guitar riffs are catchy and technical throughout; some of the harmonized sections are just beautiful. Steve Jones is an excellent lead guitarist, not so much for his technicality but rather how interesting all his playing is. There is no lack of proficient guitarists in Death Metal or Metalcore, but Jones’s rhythmic approach to his guitar playing and unique approach to left/right speaker riffing makes him stand out as a very diverse player. Michael Keene holds his own as a rhythm guitarist, harmonizing with Jones and providing a backdrop for him to paint over. Brandon Giffin and Nick Pierce hold down the rhythm section on bass and drums, respectively. Nearly every single riff on this CD is catchy, very rarely are they ever dull or just filler. Giffin is a crucial part of the band’s sound, filling stop-go sections with bass slides and laying down solid grooves. The later is nothing too special as a drummer, but he and Giffin work very well together. The best thing about the instrumentation in [B[The Faceless[/b] is how they can just groove together. All the pieces come together and create some incredibly complex rhythm patterns, but my God, you can’t help but move to them. Michael Sherer also does a good job on Keyboards, using them mostly for atmospheric touches, but they boost The Faceless a whole level above their peers. Think Vesania’s God the Lux. And finally, on the vocals, is Derek Rydquist. How a vocalist this young manages to unleash such quaking growls and high pitched screams is beyond me, but he is damn good at what he does. Although his growl is low, it is often times understandable and always fun to listen to. It never makes the listener cringe and always adds to the song.

The Faceless is a suiting name for this band, since it is near impossible to pin them down to one style of heavy metal. At their core, they are Melodic Death Metal, but the inclusion of Keyboards and Breakdowns really separates them from the crowd. The only real flaw of Akeldama is that it isn’t original enough to really be groundbreaking. It is an incredibly solid release, and although all the songs are very different, they still sound the same. For the best example of the band’s talent, download the aforementioned track Leica. It’s everything and more that you could want from a Heavy Metal song. The Faceless’s debut show incredible promise and talent, especially for such young musicians. Akeldama can already hold its own against any other band in the genre, and with a bit more experimentation they could become huge. If you are looking for some Death metal that is very different from other bands in the genre, this is a CD worth checking out. It’s technical, catchy, progressive, and groovy, debuts don’t get much better than Akeldama.



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user ratings (1218)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Sam (4.5)
Awesome debut for a band with such young age....

Zettel (1.5)
The future of death metal...let's hope it's not....

Thomas Michael Morris (4)
The Faceless are a breath of fresh air in the American metal scene....


Comments:Add a Comment 
JordanS
December 5th 2006



319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Midnight when I submitted this...hopefully I'll get more feedback on this than my other 4. Thanks for any reading/comments guys.

Tyler
Emeritus
December 5th 2006



7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A very good album, and a fitting review. Good on ya!

My only beef is the keyboards are hard to hear, and when you do hear them, they sound a little out of place. I'd also say they're more tech-death than melodic death.

Great job though, keep writing. I quite like your reviews.This Message Edited On 12.06.06

JordanS
December 5th 2006



319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, the support is appreciated. I have no idea if I'd make a good writer or not. This is a great site too, I love reading people's stuff. The only problem is reviews dissapear so fast!

Tyler
Emeritus
December 5th 2006



7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You are a good writer.

Yeah, some reviews disappear fast. I know how you feel, a lot of what I review is fairly unknown, but you deal with it. Eventually, they'll build. Don't worry about the popularity of your reviews, just focus on the quality.

Bfhurricane
December 6th 2006



6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very nice review. I don't own this but I listen to it frequently in the car everyday when my friend drives me from school, he just whipped it out a couple days ago and was like "we're listening to this nonstop." So I know the album backwards by now.
I forget the name of the song, but there's one that's pretty much just an instrumental that jumps in and out of time sigs and just messes with your head. However, it's plain awesome. I plan on eventually buying this.

Oh and to add on to the BTBAM influence, I'd say there's a ton of Dream Theater in this as well. That's the first thing that came to mind as I listened to thisThis Message Edited On 12.06.06

Tyler
Emeritus
December 6th 2006



7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I know the song you mean BF. It totally fucks with you.

Some of the keyboard use isnt as bad as I first made it out to be, it seems to become less irritating as the album continues.

Killtacular
December 16th 2006



1314 Comments


I saw these fellows live and, I must say, they kicked twelve different kinds of ass.

JordanS
December 17th 2006



319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I would love to see them live, after listening to this more and more I realize that this CD really is just awesome. It never gets dull, every song is just so well crafted and thought out. Leica remains my favorite.

Confessed2005
January 19th 2007



3314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I thought this album had nine tracks on it - isn't there a third part to Horizons of Chaos?

Bfhurricane
January 22nd 2007



6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

listened to this again, just plain awesome stuff. The drummer is incredibly talented for an American fellow, you usually pick those guys up in Scandanavia

Tyler
Emeritus
January 22nd 2007



7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I only have two parts to Horizons of Chaos. I dont think there's three.

And I have no idea what you're trying to say with "you usually pick those guys up in Scandanavia"...

Bfhurricane
January 22nd 2007



6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It might just be me, but I find most American heavy metal bands don't have great drummers. And to complement that, I find that most great drummers are Scandanavian, or atleast European. Blast beats that are found on this album and that kinda speed are famous in European death metal acts. The concept of American death metal is laughable in most cases.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 22nd 2007



7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Most of the fastest blast beat drummers are from North America. Then again, most blast beat oriented drummers aren't good drummers.

Hatshepsut
January 22nd 2007



1997 Comments


Yes, you are a good writer.

xNerox
March 15th 2007



100 Comments


everyone else has given this a 4, so i guess i'll be the cad and throw in a 4.5.

great band, great album, great review. few corrections... like has been said, they're much more tech-death than melodic death... though they fit under both. also, michael keene is the lead guitar and their former drummer, bret battdorf, recorded most of the tracks on this album.

this band is one of very few who manage to be technical without making it the focus of the music. all the wiggly notes and riffs always have a place in context, not just wankery.

these guys are definitely worth watching in the near future.

JonMurphy
March 31st 2007



3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pestilence makes me want to go to Egypt.

dhowns
April 2nd 2007



8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pretty good review. however i believe Nick Pierce only drummed on An Autopsy and Ghost Of A Stranger, and he is one of the best drummers out there.

Confessed2005
April 2nd 2007



3314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The drumming is what makes this album particularly special.

An Autopsy features one nifty drum fill for an intro.

Pluh
April 9th 2007



579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, the drumming on this album is extreme talent. The instrumental song 'Akeldama' is just great... but all the rest are a good listen as well. This is definitely a very solid album and i'm looking forward to what they have to bring forth in later albums... I might be seeing these guys in May with As Blood Runs Black, Animosity, and Beneath the Massacre... that'd be pretty badass.
This Message Edited On 04.09.07

Tyler
Emeritus
April 9th 2007



7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well, there's like four drummers on this album.



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