Review Summary: A very rewarding sci-fi tech metal album for those who are able to withstand 30+ minutes of heavy assaulting on the ears.
These days good technical death is hard to come by, let alone death metal in general. There are very few that have stood out in the crowd for this genre. Luckily, however, this band pushes the envelope into new territory for tech metal with new ideas. Sure, there are a few minor flaws here and there (which I'll discuss later), but overall, this album seems to improve on Akeldama and it stands as a good, solid album.
It seems very interesting that this band came from Encino CA, of all places. Most death metal comes from Europe, particularly in Sweden. Anyway, without further ado:
The band starts with Prison Born, the most technical track on the album. Despite the brevity, clocking in at 1:59, it makes a good start. Actually, this whole album is quite brief, as it is only 31:42 in length. Yet it seems that the short life of the album makes it more concise and ultimately acceptable for tech metal. The Ancient Covenant continues the crazy prog/tech metal, but is not as startling as the beginning, and is much more melodic. This song goes through MANY tempo changes to reach its destination.
Shape Shifters is just a short instrumental, but it's very unsettling and will prepare you for the upcoming tracks that lie ahead. The guest keyboardist adds a nice touch here. All of a sudden, Coldly Calculated just comes right out of the gate, leaving you no time to catch your breath. Take note that this is one of the only two tracks containing clean vocals, but this is very brief. Xenochrist HAS to be the highlight here. It, too, has a startling beginning, but then goes into a short keyboard interlude, yet then continues the chaos. Eventually, though, it settles down for some good prog metal. It also changes to various tempos and is overall a solid song.
Then we come to Sons of Belial, more of a doom metal track, but of course still maintaining the sci-fi theme. It has a minute of two of the doom metal, but then catches breath and builds up to a faster tech metal song like the rest of the songs. I'd say this song is a bit of a disappointment because of being a very slow starter, but it just takes a bit of patience to find its worth. Legion of the Serpent is another highlight of the album. It starts out in kind of a Black Dahlia Murder-type way with its extreme metal-esque beginning, and it actually continues this kind, proving again that The Faceless have been pushing the envelope for a while in terms of music.
The title track, as you've probably noticed, is in two parts, with a story detailing Area 51. Of course, this IS a sci-fi album, as mentioned, so it totally fits. The 1st part is the one mostly detailing the story and it is about a minute and a half. The second part, sadly, was a disappointment for me. It was a solid song, but seemed a bit bland and directionless overall. It usually repeated lines over and over again. This is the second song with clean vocals. They're uesd a bit more here, but i'ts still brief. It was just a bit of a disappointing end to a great album.
To conclude, this was a great sci-fi tech metal album that pushed the band's ideas a lot more than their 1st offering, Akeldama. If you're a technical death metal fan, or even just a tech metal fan, then this album is essential, even with the flaws of brevity and the last track.