Review Summary: A firm hold on the genome.
Death metal of late has been on a trajectory. Its direction is carved out by niche wanderings and the purveying old school elements. Its elements are so focused on moving the genre into unknown climes that its listeners (particularly in regard to the fanbase) often forget the primal sensuality to which pioneering bands offer. Death metal is wholesome
indeed, and not all innovation needs to be presented so unmistakable, discernibly immediate to those who scan through seconds of music at a time all in the hopes of achieving that ‘buzz’. It’s a topic that brings us to the very roots of Faceless Burial’s At The Foothills Of Deliration
, and its cacophony of whirlwind riffs, sensual forward-thinking grooves and hugely organic production that juxtapose dearly with the record’s more angular, hirsute moments. For those transfixed within the realms of the band’s more sophomoric release (that is to say Speciation
being the second of this Melbourne based death trio), At The Foothills Of Deliration
’s foothold is less firm in the sovereign state of the old school
and largely more equipped to meld its progressive modern influences onto a foundation simply built on them. Think: meat, sinew and bone. The bone gives Faceless Burial structure, identity even—but the individuality comes from the flesh. Hair, muscle…pimples even.
Take the frantic introductions of “Equipoise Recast” for example. Forget the fact that this is just how
their newest album, At The Foothills Of Deliration
opens, forget that this little band comes from Australia (a country more synonymous with blue collared rednecks, the Hemsworth brothers and its backwards politics). This six-minute escapade is so drenched in recurring motifs it’s hard to quite pin down just how this band is progressing out of their old school death metal roots. These repeated ideas, even somewhat circular in nature, become a fixed point for the listener, ready to hold onto as ideas develop, change and shift again. The forward motion of the band’s aesthetic hidden under a well-oiled death metal riff machine. Even the blow-by-blow nature of the album’s first few riffs jerk away any notion of a lumbering doom drenched giant. Instead, an infectious groove meets energy
to devastating effect. On the other side of the coin, “A Mire Of Penitence” leeches a slower tempo dressed up as marching devastation. The noodle-riff salad that bludgeons its way out of an imaginary cave reeks (in the best possible way) of the old-school soundscapes so heavily entrenched in the band’s DNA. Füj’s guitar runs rampart, dive bombs and squeals pepper one course of riffs to the next, a whammy-fest let loose on the unsuspecting crowds that eventually await these live performances.
Personally, I’d want to shed light on “From The Bastion To The Pit” for being the record’s defining moment but it’s likely that most will be caught deciphering little earworms and larger levels of nuance from all over the album. For thirty-seven minutes, At The Foothills Of Deliration
takes a hammer to the modern death metal aesthetic, melting leads and wrenching rhythms back into place, reshaping conception as to what it takes to be ‘old-school’ in such a modern setting. Even the album’s more digestible moments, like those within “Haruspex At The Foothills of Deliration” tread the line between a leaden doom march, lumbering riffs towering over the usual cymbal and bass strikes (courtesy of one Max Kohane) while ethereal space atmospheres soften the caustic palette. It creates room; a breath inward, introspective, before unleashing again in the record’s closer, “Redivivus Through Vaticination”—small drum solos included alongside the noodling riffs and horde commanding growls of the magnificent Alex Macfarlane. Musical awareness and organic production values do as much of the heavy lifting as the musicians who developed these vast, rich death metal soundscapes. At no time does any of At The Foothills Of Deliration
become sterile, nor does it delve too deeply into the unlistenable chasm from where these ideas formed.
While the death metal genre has had a distinct run with an upward trajectory these last few…decades, there’s no denying Faceless Burial’s surge towards relevance to the capabilities of the genre in a few short years. Maybe some of us aren’t quite ready to embrace the older sensibilities the likes of Faceless Burial have to offer. Perhaps they’re simply ‘of the wrong generation’ to be melding all past, present and future against the grain to which the mainstream has become accustomed. Speciation
was simply the turning point, a birth point to which we mark before listening to At The Foothills Of Deliration
in full. Faceless Burial isn't done here. They’re not even close to being done. Faceless Burial have a firm grip on climes to which they plan to conquer, climb—perhaps ascend. As they say…at the foothills…