Review Summary: A diverse and enjoyable tech-death album that will please old-fans and offers enough new ideas to bring in new ones.
Following their critically-acclaimed debut, The Faceless attempt to expand upon the technicality of Akeldema while simultaneously incorporating a diverse group of influences into their evolved sound. The result is a unique blend of intense tech-death metal, groovy rhythm passages, bluesy solos, and blistering shredding that expands upon nearly every aspect of Akeldema but manages to sound completely new and fresh.
As in any tech death band instrumentation is key, and The Faceless certainly don't fail here. Drummer Lyle Cooper blasts away at a frantic pace with a variety of equally furious fills tossed in, guitarists Micheal Kenne and Steve Jones offer a variety of sweeps, dissonant chords, chug-a-lug riffage, and of course shredding solos. But bassist Brandon Griffin (while being unforgivably hidden within the mix) is arguably the true highlight of much of the album, offering some of the most creative and technically proficient bass riffs around, that is whenever you can actually hear him. The vocals provided by Demon Carcass(yes it is a joke name) and Kenne round out the mix with Carcass delivering punishing bellows and Kenne throwing down some surprisingly good clean vocals and vocoder work. This new addition to the sound manages to shake up what would be some rather monotonous vocal work otherwise.
Actually the sound on Planetary Duality can hardly be considered monotonous in any sense. Industry standard time signature shifts abound, as do obscure time signatures and sometimes even small genre shifts. For example Xenochrist shifts from a death metal intro to a black metalish riff, Coldly Calculated Design abruptly shifts from furious tech death at its finest to a smooth BTBAM-esque solo, and Planetary Duality II (A Prophecies Fruition) contains a passage reminiscent of Opeth. While often short-lived, these shifts in style keep the sound fresh and varied without becoming overbearingly eclectic.
Probably the most noticeable aspect of Planetary Duality is the incorporation of The Faceless' influences into their own unique sound. On the first listen traces of Necrophagist, Cynic, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, and Nile are all readily apparent. While some may claim this merely rips off the above mentioned bands such is not the case. The Faceless merge these influences within their own individual sound to create something unique and new but don't allow these influences to become over-stated.
As with every CD, there exists a few drawbacks on Planetary Duality. The most noteworthy is the length. Planetary Duality runs at just over 30 minutes, and while I personally don't mind half-hour albums others may not as open to the thought. But considering the astoundingly positive reception to Cynic's 34 minute Traced in Air, this may not be such a problem after all. The snare production can get a tad tedious in large doses, particularly when blasting at full speed. The loss of a keyboardist shortly before recording Planetary Duality closes some doors that would otherwise be open. And, for all you anti-deathcore people out there, breakdowns. While there are not many present, those less-privy to the idea of chug in their tech death(which judging by the cold reception Beneath the Massacre still manages to garner is quite a bit of you) will undoubtedly consider this a con. Overall these cons are rather small and can easily be gotten over.
Planetary Duality is everything a sophomore effort should be. It expands upon the ideas of Akeldema without rehashing anything already presented and offers enough new ideas to justify Planetary Duality as its own album and not just Akeldema part two. While the new sound may turn off old fans, the great musicianship and overriding theme of alien invasion is sure to draw new fans and lots of attention from the metal community. A great album that won't disappoint even the harshest of critics.