Ya gotta admire a band that believes in itself. With its third album, the Faceless unveil a new lineup and a bigger, more ambitious sound, one that pushes their technical approach into the realm of full-blown prog. Given the album’s overall concept—“autotheism” means self-deification, and the album opens with the appropriately-titled “Creation”—the occasional dips into semi-symphonic grandeur definitely fit the mood, as do the Greg Lake-ish vocals on “Solitude.” Still, what drives the music is the tightly synched interplay between drums and guitars, and that, particularly as sharpened by Wes Hauch’s surgically precise lead work, definitely deserves a Hallelujah! J.D.
The Faceless have never been just another deathcore band. Their musicianship alone has set them apart, as have their aspirations for more than just brutality. With Autotheism, they've officially severed any remaining ties with the genre from which they emerged. Long, progressive instrumental sections have taken the place of breakdowns, furthering the distance between their heavier death metal sections.
While technical death metal band the Faceless have always had a bit of a progressive streak, they really run with it on their third album, Autotheism. Opening with the sprawling three-track suite "Autotheist Movement," the Faceless let listeners know that they're in for something different right off the bat as they accent their dazzling metal with piano, organ, and even saxophone. This kind of experimentation shows that the band is willing to really explore and try new things, which in a lot of ways is more metal than just seeing how many breakdowns you can string together before everyone involved needs a break.
Autotheism is a highfaluting term pertaining to the deification of one-self, and it’s also the name bestowed upon the long-awaited follow-up to the lauded, Planetary Duality. It is a fitting title in view of the fact that vocalist Derek Rydquist, bassist Brandon Griffin, and guitarist Steve Jones have all departed in the four years between albums, leaving Keene standing alone as the chief orchestrator and founding member of the Faceless. To his credit, Keene has re-assembled the band efficiently, replacing the talents of the past with equally proficient musicians: vocalist Geoffrey Ficco, bassist Evan Brewer (Reflux/Animosity), guitarist Wes Hauch, and Lyle Cooper (who has manned the drums since the Planetary Duality days).
The Faceless were far superior to the majority of their tech-death peers even on their debut, 2006’s Akeldama; they blasted and broke down like everyone else, but genuinely necessary keyboards and other original touches vaulted them out of the pack. Two years later, Planetary Duality cemented their awesomeness, and now, on their third album, they’ve gone completely insane. There’s lots of death metal still to be heard, but they’ve added Mike Patton-esque crooning, pumped up the jazz-fusionesque bass in the mix, let the guitarist shred in a classical-thrash manner—hell, “Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate” has a saxophone solo! The lyrics and song titles indicate that their obsession with aliens hasn’t faded any, so okay.