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.The Faceless are:
Michael Keene-Guitar, Vocals
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
) 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
, 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.
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
, 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.
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