Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Album Review: The Faceless - "Planetary Duality"

Since announcements about the new Faceless album have been cropping up recently, I decided to give these California based tech-deather's last album a listen to see why everyone is jizzing their pants in anticipation over this new release.

"Plantery Duality" brings things to a whole new level of brutal.
The Faceless are a relatively new up and coming band, with only three albums over six years (including their upcoming 2012 release, Autotheism). I haven't heard a peep about Alkedama, their first release, but I've heard a bunch of praise and general cocksuckery towards Planetary Duality. Driven by Michael Keene, the lead guitarist/ clean vocalist/ songwriter/ lyricist, The Faceless bring a surprisingly cool angle to the mechanical and formulaic genre of technical death metal.

Don't get me wrong, Planetary Duality isn't much more than technical death metal, but it's enough more for me to want to listen through it more than a once. The basis is standard. Mega fast, mega triggered double bass drums, tremolo picked riffs out the ass and more sweeping than a broom convention. The bits I've got to point out here are the little extras that make this album stand out (albeit not by too much). A lot of the lead guitar through the songs have long, held out, slowly bent notes (especially the title track) that really give an old-school-alien-invasion-movie-soundtrack feel. Considering The Faceless' sci-fi theme with the lyrics and artwork, the guitar work fits perfectly here.

Another thing that steps up Planetary Duality's game are the little clean interludes thrown in every once in a  while. Whether its with clean guitar like in the forty-four second track titled "Shape Shifters" or the intro of "Legion of the Serpent" or the fantastic little organ and piano bridges in "Xenochrist" and "Legion of the Serpent" as well, these breaks from the albums relentless brutality are very much welcomed.

The last thing that this release offers are some of Michael Keene's clean vocals sprinkled over it. They aren't fantastic, but they switch things up, and you can tell he's putting in a solid effort, so you can't really complain.

Too much guitar wanking makes Death Metal Skrillex Michael Keene sad.

As awesome as all that is, this album isn't without it's pitfalls. The first thing that really rustled my jimmies are lead vocalist Derek Rydquist's higher register screams. I fell they lack any and all guts behind them and sound forced as all Hell. I'm sure some people like them, but they're just not for me. Another vocal issue are the vocoders used, specifically on the opening track "Prison Born". Just. No. Please. No.

Bomb-Ass Tracks

The Ancient Covenant: You all know how much I love bass solos.
Xenochrist: With that awesome piano intro/ bridge, and some pretty interesting songwriting and riffing, its no wonder why "Xenochrist" is one of their most popular songs. Also, that outro is just too good not to listen to over and over again.
Legion of the Serpent: Michael Keene gets that bitch neo-classical riffing. Bitches love neo-classical riffing.

On a Playlist With: Obscura, Decrepit Birth, (old) Cynic

Overall Score

Planetary Duality is a guitar driven tech-death album that shoots to be something head and shoulders above  the swathes of generic tech-death bands and gets close, but gets dragged back down by some sub-par vocals. I know they don't show up often, but when they do, I cringe. 2012's Autotheist has a new vocalist taking up the mic, so I'm interested in what Michael Keene and friends will bring out next.

That's all for now, folks.

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