Sumerian Records 2012
Despite injuries, departures and scattered studio sessions, The Faceless‘ first studio album since 2008 comes out shining. With guitarist/vocalist Michael Keene pulling the strings, the group return with a revamped lineup that includes newcomers: bassist Evan Brewer, guitarist Wes Hauch and vocalist Geoffrey Ficco.
“Autotheism” isn’t just a clever title, so much as a theme the group willfully explore throughout the release. The blasphemous nature of worshipping one’s self may not sit well with religious audiences—especially given how vividly the topic is lyrically approached throughout this opus.
But spiritual arrogance or not, there’s an affirming level of tact and confidence with which they approach the subject. One that finds them performing more of a vivisection of a belief system rather than stooping to good old fashioned death metal provocation. Even with the new blood, the influence of outfits like Opeth and Cynic continue to heavily define The Faceless‘ latest output.
Albeit rather than a fascination with earthen mysticism or star gazing, these Californian natives prefer the sterility and logic of cold hard science. This allows the technical aspects of their material to fully take form and unleash devastating onslaughts with surgical precision.
Of course The Faceless have never shied from technology either and “Autotheism” is no different. The interlude “Hail Science” features computerized spoken word ala Stephen Hawking; while “Accelerated Evolution” seems to subtlety work in some vocoding on a few of the closing bellows. Synth and programming also maintain a steady presence as the group frequently indulge in symphonic expansiveness.
But what really sees “Autotheism” encroach on new territory is the proggy elements at play on this effort. The band are no longer restrained by brutality, allowing them to truly open the floor up to some bravely developed ideas. For that look no further than, “Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate“; a track that not only recalls the carnival tomfoolery of Mr. Bungle, but also the operatic clean vocals of Devin Townsend. The fact that it also features a saxophone solo from an internet celebrity (Sergio “Sexy Saxy Man” Flores) and doesn’t come off as a novelty speaks volumes about the bands abilities.
As for the latest additions to the group, the stirring organic nature of Evan Brewer‘s fretless bass playing is truly the albums unsung hero. Its warm nature helps offset the mechanical precision of the various serrated riffs and ascendant solos. While the contrast between Ficco‘s bestial barks and Keene‘s hauntingly somber cleans also pack a surprisingly dynamic punch.
“Autotheism” is a razor sharp combination of dark, brooding songwriting and finely honed musicianship. A rare album that delivers something for both the mind and heart to indulge in. It may be blunted by the back catalogue of other artists, but it still enthralls with a grace all its own.
Click the stars to rate this album.