The Faceless

In Becoming A Ghost

Written by: MAK on 07/12/2017 13:58:39

It’s been a while since Sumerian Records’ flagship band, The Faceless have released new material. In the five-year gap since the release of “Autotheism”, there have been jokes similar to that of Tool, whether there will be another album from the extreme metal outfit. That along with dropping out of several tours, it’s been a bumpy ride. Alas, we have "In Becoming a Ghost", in which aside from founding member, Michael Keene, is an all-new lineup for The Faceless since the last album.

This is a lineup that has changed several times in the last five years, one that saw vocalist Geoffrey Ficco replaced by former vocalist Derek Rydquist, only for him to be replaced again by Ken "Sorceron" Bergeron. Drummer Lyle Cooper left due to different goals, so in stepped Alex Rüdinger, formerly of The HAARP Machine for a brief period before Chason Westmoreland took place as the resident stickman to record on the album, though has also since left the band. Rhythm Guitarist Wes Hauch was replaced by Justin McKinney, and bassist Evan Brewer departed the band, leaving Keene to record the bass segments. With so many changes, it’s amazing anything got done at all. The Faceless is now essentially Michael Keene project, and the rest is his supporting cast. Apart from the co-writing help from Justin McKinney and a surprise cover of “Shake the Disease” by Depeche Mode, this album has Keene written all over it.

Following a rather unsettling intro piece of, featuring an ominous piano melody and a ghostly voice, “Digging the Grave” launches right into an onslaught of blast beats, crunchy riffs and menacing lead guitar licks that just ooze dread. It is taken further towards every embodiment of extreme by monstrous vocals that soon break through. However, it doesn’t take long for the tone to calm down, the tempo drops, the vocals are clean, the guitar solo croons and the drum patterns are nicely intricate. This just lures you into a false sense of security with the viciousness kicking back in with more tenacity. The back end of this five-minute epic is rather theatrical, with what sounds like flutes and tribal drumming that feels influenced by the “Jaws” theme based on the uneasy tone it leaves. From the start, we get a taste for the heaviness that The Faceless can deliver, yet the follow up in “Black Star” takes a more progressive approach, for the most part, letting the technical intricacies, the little guitar licks and machine gun like drum fills flourish along with the clean vocals.

“Cup of Mephistopheles” keeps that theatrical side going with anthemic synth segments delicately balancing out the industrial influenced extreme death metal. It’s brutal in town, yet the tempo is sluggishly sinister. Everything from the riffs to the savage harsh vocals mixed with creepy cleans is just incredibly brooding, especially with lyrics such as “Nothing affects me/ No one to rush me/ When I’m laying in my six-foot-hole.”. “The Spiral Void”, while incredibly dark is far more hooking in comparison, captivating you with fiddly djent-like grooves and pacey double pedal blasts. For the first time, there are what you could call proper headbanging segments, though once again you can be wowed by the impeccably whiney guitar solo and robotic sounding cleans towards the end. “Shake the Disease” is far from the 80s synth pop that the original was, in fact, if I didn’t know it was a cover I would have just assumed this was a The Faceless song though and though with the same haunting tone that has flooded this album and a full-on sonic attack of chaotic drums and wall off sound riffage. The only comparison is that clean singing in the chorus is rather similar Dave Gahan’s baritone voice.

“I Am” follows a similar style to “The Spiral Void” with its djent flavoured progressive metal, raising the bar with how complex The Faceless can be on this release with sporadic instrumentation on every level. A piece of impressive songwriting is followed by a rather pointless spoken-word reprise that kills the flow of the album, though it does launch into an impressive instrumental track that shows of the band talents to be great progressive metal songwriters. It’s a nice set up for the album closer “The Terminal Breath”, which can poetically mean “the end”.

At first, I found this release a bit extreme for my usual metal tastes, but I grew to enjoy “In Becoming a Ghost” on the musical talent alone. It’s a fascinating release that grabs your attention with all the added theatrical elements and entertains with the sheer quality in the delivery of epic metal. It’s just as ambitious as previous work, and maybe a little crisper with it. Having not been a fan for long, I can’t say if it’s worth the five-year wait, but as an extreme metal album, it’s pretty damn good.


Download: The Spiraling Void, I Am, Black Star
For The Fans Of: Fleshgod Apocalypse, Necrophagis, Becoming the Archetype, Psycroptic

Release date 01.12.2017
Sumerian Records

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