Saturday, September 22, 2012

Album Review: The Faceless - Autotheism

Album Rating: B+
Why stay grounded when you can grow wings and soar? This question seems to be the reason that Autotheism exists, because it depicts a death metal group discontent with just making death metal. There's no reason for longtime fans of The Faceless to worry, because the group's latest offering is as brutal as expected. Heaviness is the most prevalent quality of Autotheism, accompanied with cohesive song structure and a predominantly melodic emphasis. This is the Faceless doing what they do best, latching onto an already ambitious idea and tweaking it into their chief domain.

Autotheism is a collection of ideas The Faceless have hinted towards in their past, fused sensibly with surprising influences. The most notable instance is through guitarist / vocalist Michael Keene's clean vocals, the most controversial aspect of the album. There are numerous moments when Keene comes across as having an unhealthy fascination with Devin Townsend - however, these moments are too scarce to warrant legitimate complaints. The vocal approach complements the album surprisingly well, and even underscores the various shades of emotion on display throughout Autotheism. "Autotheist Movement III" comes to mind first, starting off with dueling sentiments: ominous organs, frightening enough until soulful fretwork enters the picture to paint a melancholic picture. Moments like these pervade Autotheism, permitting you to feel whatever emotion you'd like; there's reason to believe this is an album founded upon anger, and just as much reason to deem it a story of sorrow. It's even likely that both are true - the heavier sections can be pretty damn angry, and the acoustic passages serve as urgent contemplations.

The trick to being a musical master of all trades is connecting different styles coherently, and The Faceless achieve this by creating successful transitions. This is the case because the group doesn't lose sight of their death metal origins while flirting with progressive tendencies, which fit in remarkably well.

Heavy moments are less prevalent on Autotheism, though, a far cry from 2008's Planetary Duality. They exist to create tension without basking in it for too long, adding a vital air of musical stress to the album without overstaying its welcome. After all, each heavy moment begins and ends humbly, leaving adequate space for the softer passages to take over. Autotheism stresses overall movements, which can be why particular tracks start off a little drowsily; "Ten Billion Years" takes too long to get going, for instance. The songwriting prowess is impressively logical, though, and this makes up for stagnancy issues in the end. Every musician's at the top of his game, too - each instrument stands out superbly from one track to the next, coalescing into an end product that's pretty damn hard to resist.

Overall Autotheism is a landmark release for The Faceless, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying close enough attention. The death metal group seem to be most comfortable out of their comfort zone, and this guarantees them an interesting future.


1. Autotheist Movement I: Create
2. Autotheist Movement II: Emancipate
3. Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate
4. Accelerated Evolution
5. The Eidolon Reality
6. Ten Billion Years
7. Hail Science
8. Hymn Of Sanity
9. In Solitude

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