The Faceless – Akeldama

The Faceless operate in a weird grey area somewhere between deathcore, progressive death metal, and a little post-metal, and against all odds it’s pretty listenable.  It really shouldn’t be, given that description, but whatever, it all seems to work out.

The band bounces between roughly three modes: blast blasty growly parts, chuggy chuggy breakdown parts, and meedly meedly proggy parts.  All of them are pretty good but the breakdowns are kind of unnecessary and really don’t mesh with the rest of the fabric of the music; it’s like they’re put there so hardcore kids know that they’re supposed to be enjoying it.  The rest of the music is pretty bereft of metalcore cliché (apart from ill-advised moments like the opening riff to ‘Leica’), instead opting for the high road of prog-infused death metal.  There’s lots of strange time signatures and lead guitars that sound like a mixture of Dream Theater and Gorguts, but this is tempered somewhat by the more accessible, melodeath style melodies the band feels the need to periodically incorporate.  I don’t know, maybe they’re just not daring enough.

The rest of it is pretty sweet though.  When the band wants to grind, they can really grind, and they craft some fantastic tremolo riffs to go with the solidly performed high/low vocals.  Drums are very tight and well performed, and as a technical study the album’s pretty much bar none.  There’s a keyboard which pops up periodically to not much effect; the melodies are fairly predictable and while not really bad, they’re just sort of an extra layer of noise while the guitars dominate.  The guitars should dominate though; the craftsmanship that goes into the riffs and leads on the album is obvious and it’s one of the few albums I can listen to where traditional prog style guitarwork doesn’t irritate the shit out of me.  The album is pretty varied really, perhaps a little too much so, since the band doesn’t incorporate elements together as much as just staple sections of songs together from various styles of music.  Each of the sections is well composed enough that I can forgive the Opeth syndrome though.

Overall, ‘Akeldama’ is pretty solid.  I’m not sure why they had a period of such dramatic frenzy when the album came out; it’s doing something kind of new but certainly not revolutionary, and it’s not deserving of extreme praise nor ridiculous ire either.  I give it a listen every once in a while since it’s pretty short and angry enough that I don’t feel gay when I need something of a prog fix.  This is probably the first time I’ve ever said this, but they could probably do better without the breakdowns and overt metalcore elements and just concentrate on the mixture of spacey prog and blasting DM.  But either way, it’s cool enough to deserve a look from the average metalhead.


~ by noktorn on July 26, 2008.

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