Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Album Review: The Faceless - "Autotheism"

After my analysis of why everybody has a boner for The Faceless, I promised myself I'd check out their new album Autotheism once it was released. Well, it came out today, and here I am. Let's get our tech-death on.

Anata called. They want their album cover back.
When I reviewed Planetary Duality, I said it "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". My main problems with Planetary Duality were Derek Rydquist's higher register screams and the overuse of vocoders and vocal effects. Autotheism sees Rydquist replaced by Geoffrey Ficco who, in my opinion, is a much more well rounded vocalist (as well rounded as you can get with death metal vocals). This album also leaves the vocal effects behind (save for the awesome Stephen Hawking-esque voice in "Hail Science") and has guitarist Michael Keene taking up the mic much more often than before.

Keene's voice is even more powerful than before as well, with him being able to sing with more vigor and with a much larger range. His voice now seems to take on a Devin Townsend sort of tone, leaning more to Heavy Dev's calm side as opposed to his more aggressive one. I know that a lot of Faceless fans that suffered from bad cases of butthurt because Keene sings a lot on Autotheism, but they just need to get past it. Not everything needs to be a growl of scream. The man sings well and his voice is never tacky or out of place. You should applaud him for it.

This release also shows a little bit of experimentation from The Faceless. The first three songs, dubbed "Autotheist Movement" span 18 minutes of shifting music, from haunting piano and string sections to full on brutality to clean jazzy sections reminiscent of tech-death and jazz fusion legends Cynic. "Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate" shows the beautiful use of saxophone near the ending as well. [EDIT 20-Aug-2012: I recently discovered that the saxophonist on "Desconsecrate" is none other than Sergio "Sexy Sax Man" Flores. Fuck. Yes.] One thing I have to say I really like about the use of sax on Autotheism is that it's very smooth melodic playing, rather than the frantic and chaotic playing that has been cropping up on recent metal releases (Napalm Death and Ihsahn come to mind). I've got to say that the entirety of "Autotheist Movement" is probably one of the best written modern death metal songs I've heard in a long time.

One last thing I need to address on this album is the bass. Everyone knows I'm a sucker for good bass playing, and man, is the bass playing ever good on here. It's mixed perfectly with the other instruments so that you can hear it  very clearly without it overpowering any other instrument, and both the bass tone and phrasing really push forward a sort of jazz fusion and progressive rock vibe (a la modern Opeth and Cynic).

Bomb-Ass Tracks

Autotheist Movement I: Create: The beautiful and haunting intro track ebbs and flows through a sort of ethereal death metal sound. Michael Keene's vocals really shine here too.

Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate: There's everything you need here. Catchy riffs, face melting solos, brutal vocals, and that beautiful sax I was talking about earlier.

Ten Billion Years: [Insert remark about how catchy and well written the song is.]

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

Overall Score


This is the album Planetary Duality wanted to be. The Faceless have really created something that stands out in the technical death metal scene, which seems to get even more boring and saturated with mediocre bands by the day. Autotheism really makes me excited for where The Faceless are heading, and hopefully, where tech-death is going as a genre.

That's all for now, folks! Hail science.


  1. This album is getting kick ass reviews from almost everyone online. I'm going to have to check out their stuff for sure.

  2. Definitely check it out if you get the chance. It took me totally by surprise, and I'm enjoying it more and more with each listen!