In barely a week, The Faceless’ ‘Authotheism’ will be available. Almost every reaction I’ve been privy to since the confirmation of August 14th ranges from unbridled giddiness to rabid fanboy derision of any and all complaints or criticism. To be honest, I’m completely puzzled. Demilich, Timeghoul and Oppressor aren’t reforming. To Violently Vomit isn’t on a national tour and Doug Cerrito isn’t coming back to Suffocation. What is all the damn fuss about?
I know plenty of people really dug ‘Planetary Duality’ when it was released (I was one of them) but in that time I think the vast majority of folks who did have moved on to greener pastures, so to speak. Can any death metal fan worth their salt honestly tell me that they’d take an (inevitable) new Faceless album over say, the return of Gorguts? As far as I’m concerned, they really can’t. The Faceless have no laurels to rest on. They didn’t reinvent tech-death or define the sound of a decade, they released a couple of competent CD’s that accrued a large following of young metalheads that hadn’t explored the history or established classics of technical death metal. Nothing wrong with that per se but I’m genuinely surprised at the amount of people who have hung on to this band, especially since most folks have had ample time to become better acquainted with the genre introduced to them in 2008.
In fact, since I HAVE taken the time to do as much, The Faceless have lost almost all of the appeal I once had. So they took Cynic’s vocoder cleans and Necrophagist style sweeps and fed them into a distinctly ‘progressive’ deathcore framework. Big whoop. Not once while listening to ‘Planetary Duality’ again did I find anything that hasn’t already been done better before. Timeghoul already wrote the greatest Death Metal science fiction lyrics fourteen years prior, Oppressor and Nocturnus used keyboards as integral parts of their compositions (not just for progressive novelty) and the aforementioned Cynic and Necrophagist’s vocoder cleans and sweeps respectively beat The Faceless like a redheaded stepchild. Any way you look at it, The Faceless’ entire discography rests on the accomplishments of better artists that came before them. Again, nothing wrong with that per se given that a lot of metal bands do just that and their work is still great but when people start getting giddy over the knock off instead of the criminally neglected originals that’s when I begin to have serious problems.
Ironically enough, The Faceless have a lot more in common with a band like The Black Dahlia Murder than they do a band like Atheist. Just like The Faceless, Black Dahlia Murder is inexplicably popular, bases their entire craft on the work of others and beyond both of those points is safe and marketable. That’s what grinds my gears the most about The Faceless. I can forgive almost everything else but that is just unacceptable. Bear in mind that this has nothing to do with their advertising campaigns. When I say ‘safe’ and ‘marketable’, I mean tech-death for the uninitiated, the oblivious and those unwilling or unable to expand their musical horizons beyond what stands as a by the numbers entry level outfit. Are all Faceless fans like this? Of course not but enough of them are that the insurmountable anticipation for their latest album concerns me.
You’ve undoubtedly noticed that until now, I haven’t even mentioned the track I’m profiling. That’s because there is so very little to actually profile. ‘Eidolon Reality’ is hopelessly one note. Every item on the ‘Tech Death 101 Checklist’ is crossed off in such a nauseatingly stereotypical way that I find myself forgetting the track immediately after listening to it. Hell, even listening to it as I type this is difficult. A sweep here, some blasts there, the hopeless impersonation of Paul Masvidal and Mikael Åkerfeldt on the mic and through it all a pervasive emptiness. The utter absence of any basic engagement. Riffs come and go, stale growls make way for ridiculous clean vocals and nothing is accomplished by the time it’s over. Sure, the ‘breakdown but not really’ portions of their last couple of albums are mercifully absent (for the most part) but that doesn’t change the fact that this is dull, uninspired and listless music that uses interesting progressive elements to further an irretrievably generic core. Simply put, if I didn’t have ‘Demise Of The Trinity’ & ‘Deranged Epidemic’ open in other tabs, I’d be asleep. This is not the kind of material that should be encouraged with boundless praise.
I know a few smart asses are already thinking, ‘You’ve only heard the pre-production version of that song! The album version will kick yer ass!’
Sure, a couple more layers of immaculate, soulless Sumerian Records touch ups and I’m sure we’ll be looking at album of the decade. Never mind the the fact that Sumerian Records has ZERO credibility as a distributor of actual Death Metal and has done everything within their power to run ‘djent’ into the ground at mach speed, I’m sure The Faceless will destroy all expectations and top their last (in denial) technical deathcore release with more autotuned cleans vocals and senseless guitar/bass shredding. In the meantime, I’m gonna look forward to Internal Bleeding and Suffocation’s latest LP’s. You know, bands that have earned the weight behind their names.