Become a Believer in Autotheism
Thursday, August 23, 2012 1 Comment
For fans of Between the Buried and Me, Opeth and Necrophagist
If you’re a fan of The Faceless, you’re probably wondering why I’ve listed Opeth and Between the Buried and Me as similar artists. “The Faceless is technical death metal, not progressive,” you’re probably saying, while starting arguments in the comments section of a Youtube video. True, their previous releases were tech metal through and through. However, Autotheism, which was released on August 14th, is about as progressive as it gets. Yes, it’s a strange transition. But it still freaking rocks.
Hailing from the City of Lost Angels, The Faceless established themselves among the metal scene in 2006 with their debut album Akeldama. Please don’t ask what that word means, because I have no fucking clue. Anyway, this was a huge deal because not only were they a new and extremely talented American technical death metal band, but they were the very first artists signed to the newly founded Sumerian Records. The album showed off their technical skill with hints of progressive elements cleverly scattered throughout. Then in 2009, they released Planetary Duality. That masterpiece of a record is what truly put them on the map. I still remember the first time I listened to it. I needed a cigarette afterwards because it was the most orgasmic experience I’d ever had.
Planetary Duality has some of the most blisteringly brutal musicianship the world has ever seen. And the album is about aliens. So yeah, it’s pretty badass.
Following their typical routine of lineup changes, they hired ANOTHER vocalist after their second one left, they recruited bass prodigy Evan Brewer, and they recently replaced their longtime rhythm guitarist Steve Jones after he decided to quit. Then, after nearly three years in the works, they released Autotheism. So does it live up to its hype? Well, it depends on what you were expecting.
I was anticipating some complex and dark death metal. What I got was a bit less of that, paired with much more prevalent clean vocals from lead guitarist/songwriter Michael Keene, along with some moody and abysmal instrumental pieces. In other words, I got a progressive metal album. That’s totally fine by me, these guys pull off their new style with such skill and grace that you’d think they’ve been doing this for years. Most of the tracks carry a more melodic, almost aesthetic tendency, which in turn could make this album more accessible to the casual listener. However, there are still some tracks in Autothesim that remain true to The Faceless’ technical death metal origins. Take “The Eidolon Reality” for example.
That’s vintage, boner-inspiring Faceless musicianship right there. It’s reminiscent of earlier tracks like “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Ghost of a Stranger.” Then, on the other hand, there are songs like “Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate” that sound like the love child of Opeth and Between the Buried and Me.
Now I’m not saying that The Faceless is attempting to copy the styles of two other well-known progressive bands. I’m just pointing out that it sounds a bit strange coming from these dudes. I feel that this particular track is the weakest of Autotheism for several reasons. First, it just sounds a bit too whimsical and humorous in comparison to the rest. Second, it has a few rough transitions. At one point you’ll be hearing a strange keyboard interlude accompanied by clown-like “La-la la’s,” then before you know it, they’ll drop the hammer and avert to their mind-bending death metal. Also, there’s a saxophone solo. In a death metal song. I think that pretty much sums up how mismatched this song is.
You can probably guess what this album is about by simply reading the title, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with root words, I’ll help you out. “Auto” means self, and “theism” means belief or religion. Put them together, what do you get? Self-religion! Autotheism is a concept album that explores the idea of religion no longer acting as a barrier for human growth and development. It tells a radical story of the world abandoning theological pursuits and accepting science as its new universal belief, which is an interesting concept if you think about it. That’s all I’m going to say about that, because here at Wrecked we try to avoid discussing sensitive topics. The last thing we need is a war in the comments section and some angry emails from readers.
Overall, this is a very solid album. I wouldn’t say this is their strongest record, that honor would undoubtedly go to Planetary Duality, but I’d still certainly recommend it to any metal fan. If you weigh its elements, the positive aspects vastly outweigh the negative ones. There’s still enough face-melting riffage and instrumental bruality to keep metal elitists like myself entertained, and the progressive songwriting carries an eloquent flow that you wouldn’t expect from a death metal band. The total length of the album clocks in at just over forty minutes, but those forty minutes whiz by faster than you think. That could be a result of the aforementioned flow, or it could be due to the fact that tracks 7 and 8 are only 54 seconds and 1 minute and 35 seconds, respectively. Either way, it doesn’t minimize the brilliance that Autotheism exudes. This release could mark the beginning of a new era for The Faceless. I implore you to buy this album and join the Autotheist Movement.
Standout tracks: “Autotheist Movement I: Create,” “Autotheist Movement II: Emancipate,” “The Eidolon Reality,” and ” Hymn of Sanity.”