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The Faceless are a technical death metal band that caught my interest recently. Having listened to their debut album, I can say that there were some genuinely awesome moments contained within. Unfortunately, there were a good deal of “this sucks” moments, mostly during breakdowns. Having listened to this album, I can say that I feel unfulfilled, empty, having gained nothing from my listening experience.
The first thing I noticed was the appearance of keyboards. Keyboards in extreme metal can occasionally be pulled off, sadly the keyboard parts on Akeldama feel out of place, and seem to be trying too hard to create atmosphere, with “All Dark Graves” being an example of forcing an almost forest-like atmosphere on the listener. It rarely works, however, and proves to be quite distracting.
The vocalist is also a mixed bag. One some occasions, he delivers his vocals in a powerful manner similar to Lord Worm of Cryptopsy. Other times, he uses a forced high that is all-to-similar to what many other deathcore bands are using now. He uses clean vocals in “Pestilence” that are well done. They remind me of clean vocals in Mastodon’s “Leviathan” album. Overall, he should stick to the low growl, and not use the high scream.
The other instrumentalists are extremely talented, however, they seem to-like so many tech-death bands these days-lack songwriting ability. Many of the riffs are simply unmemorable. The solos are high-quality, though, and there are many good guitar melodies to be found on this album. The bass is mixed very low in the album, which is a bit off-putting. The drums are good and technical, once again reminding me of Cryptopsy.
The most frustrating thing about this album is the fact that, so many times, The Faceless really have something good on their hands, only to throw it away with a core breakdown or otherwise mediocre section. Leica is a perfect example of this: It starts off promising, but at around three minutes, we are treated to a dull breakdown. Pity. An Autopsy is an song where the same thing happens-fast, killer beginning, core breakdown later. There is an instrumental on the album, the title track. Sadly, despite being the best song on the album, it falls short of greatness. The rest of the songs fall between mediocre to dull. The length of the songs also hurts the album-if the songs were shortened, they would be much easier to digest.
Overall, The Faceless have enormous potential on their hands. If they worked on their songwriting, ditched the core elements, and improved their keyboard parts (or simply eliminated them), they would have one hell of a death metal album. Sadly, they have made an album that barely makes the mark, but hopefully, the future will only improve The Faceless.
Standout tracks: Akeldama, Leica, An Autopsy