One of California’s greatest death metal juggernauts has returned, and its name is The Faceless
. This quintet has brought chaos into the metal scene since 2004, and has retained a large amount of fans with their deadly technical onslaught. After releasing a 2-song demo in 2006, they became the first band to ever be signed to Sumerian Records in the same year. During that time, they released their full-length debut “Akeldama,” which alone grabbed the attention of plenty of metal-goers. Later, in 2008, The Faceless
struck the scene again with another full-length record entitled “Planetary Duality,” with superb results. However, since then, the band was caught in a whirlwind of lineup changes for the next few years, and it would be very hard to be able to generate a new sequel to their collection at this rate. Luckily, that didn’t stop these guys, and now that they have a full and solid lineup, they have released their third full-length album of 2012
.” Another album with 9 tracks in its roster after “Planetary Duality,” this new record sees the continuation of The Faceless
’s technical death metal assault, but with some new elements.
The musicianship has somewhat changed in “Autotheism
” compared to the band’s other works, and it turned out fantastic. Firstly, there is now more clean singing by Michael Keene in this album, which generates much more of a dark and atmospheric feel to the music. Keene has a very bold and resonant quality to his singing, and it’s all just wonderfully played out. Therefore, for those who wished for more of the clean singing from their previous records, your wish has officially been granted. Another change in the band’s musicianship is that it’s much more synthesizer-laden than before. However, now they mainly consist of ominous symphonic tunes, which drums up a lot more dramatic aura than in the band’s preceding works. Other than that, however, the musicianship overall is the same as before. Despite
the new lead singer Geoff Ficco, the growls and highs do sound mostly the same as Michael Rydquist’s from their other albums. The guitars are also as complex and melodic as before, and the drums are very technical, if not unrelenting. However, “Autotheism
” is not without flaw when it comes to the album’s production. Overall, it is not as good and solid as it was in "Akeldama" or “Planetary Duality,” mainly because the drums don’t sound as crisp as they did back then. Thankfully, the musicianship for this band has progressed nevertheless, and it plays in their favor greatly.
The sound in “Autotheism
” itself is not exactly the same as before, either. There is much more atmosphere concealed within its songs, and when the band isn’t pummeling the listener with their usual barrage of technical death metal punches, the music holds a dark and progressive tone. The first track, “Autotheist Movement I: Create” is the perfect example of this. As stated earlier, there is plenty of clean singing in the album as a whole, but this particular song holds most of it in its dark clutches. This song reveals the most progressive and atmospheric side to this band, yet it still retains their usual sinister nature. Keene’s singing really shines here, even though there are occasional hints of growls and vocoder. It’s highly intriguing, if not entrancing, considering the new direction that this band is sort of starting to take. Even the tracks that mostly consist of technical metal blasts hold the same formula every now and then, but it’s not simply thrown in there. In other words, this progressive sound does flow very well with the death metal aspect. “The Eidolon
Reality” is a track that sees this flow. Even though it is mostly technical death metal, there is still plenty of hints of progressive atmosphere hidden in its onslaught, especially when the clean singing comes in. In conclusion, what separates “Autotheism
” from the previous two works is the new atmosphere and higher abundance in clean singing. It comes to show how The Faceless
has truly progressed in this respect.
On the other hand, “Autotheism
” does mostly contain the technical, brutal, and complex death metal that fans of The Faceless
have grown to admire over the years. As stated earlier, “The Eidolon
Reality,” despite its atmosphere, mainly consists of blistering death metal, along with most of the rest of the album. The second to last track, “Hymn
to Sanity,” is probably their highest example of the band’s death metal pounding, containing rapid drum blasts, monstrous growls, and highly complex and melodic guitar riffs. Overall, “Autotheism
” shouldn’t disappoint any fans who adored the brutal side of the band’s music. Sadly, however, this record does contain a minor issue in this brutal aspect: A few of the tracks are a bit too lengthy. “Autotheist Movement II: Emancipate” demonstrates this flaw. Despite
the great technical death metal it holds, the track itself starts to lose steam through even the first listen. This is because of the song’s length, stretching over 7 minutes, and it almost becomes repetitive and less gripping. It would have been fine if the track built up somehow, but it mostly consists of their usual death metal barrages throughout. Tracks like these in “Autotheism
” are not bad at all, but it would have turned out much better if they were divided up so their brutal effects could retain the same potency. Nonetheless, this record still shouldn’t scare too many old fans away, because the death metal The Faceless
plays here is as strong as ever.
As stated by the band itself, “Autotheism
” isn’t much of a conceptual album in regards to the meaning of their lyrics. However, the lyrics in each of the songs overall deal with subjects of religion and science, hence the album’s name. In definition, Autotheism
is when one truly believes that the voice in his or her head really belongs to God
’s. It can also be defined as when someone worships or regards to him or herself as a god; it’s a religious form of human arrogance and self-righteousness. The introductory track “Autotheist Movement I: Create” relates to this definition the most, including lines such as “No creator in the heavens above (I am the lightning),” “No demons in the furnace below (I am the frenzy),” and “I have realized I am God
.” The dark-toned lyrics in this song capture the self-worshipping person’s arrogance accurately, where the person proclaims him or herself as the true God
of the world. The lyrics in the next song, “Autotheist Movement II: Emancipate,” punish the lines from the preceding track with their own lines, such as “Say goodnight to the voices in your head, you never heard them anyway, you might just be insane” and “Into a god’s mask your dreadful coiling snake has crawled.” On the other hand, the lyrics also, as stated earlier, deal with scientific matters and knowledge more so than religion and self-worship. These songs include “Hymn
to Sanity,” where the lyrics proclaim “it rules in Earth
and sky, now we live no more to die, science is risen,” and “The Eidolon
Reality,” with eloquently written lines including “And
at a greater depth, lies the holographic structure painted among the cosmos.” As a whole, the lyrics in “Autotheism
” are very provocative and interesting, as usual.
” answers two questions from the followers of The Faceless
: Is this album any better than “Planetary Duality,” supposedly their most stellar record up to date? Not quite. Was this album truly worth the band’s effort and the fans’ wait? Most certainly. Even though “Autotheism
” does have a couple hiccups that prevent it from being perfectly crafted, involving the sound production and the song length, it’s nonetheless a great sequel to the quintet’s collection. The musicianship altogether has progressed greatly, in terms of the clean vocals and the synthesizer, and the band overall is starting to reach new grounds with the darkly atmospheric direction it is taking. Old
fans, for the most part, shouldn’t be very disappointed with how “Autotheism
” turned out, because plenty of the band’s usual death metal elements remain. On the other hand, fans of complex, dark, technical, interesting, and progressive death metal should really give this a try. Although “Planetary Duality” still remains as this band’s best record yet, “Autotheism
” is a highly enjoyable listen, with awesome musicianship, great songwriting, and intriguing lyrics. After about 4 long years, The Faceless
has officially made its greatly sinister return.