In Becoming A Ghost - The Faceless
Artist: The Faceless
Album: In Becoming A Ghost
Genre: Extreme Metal
Label: Sumerian Records
Review by Steve Jenkins
Whether it's dropping off countless tours and no-showing, or not releasing an album for 5 years when they've been promising fans many times that it's 'almost ready', The Faceless have dug a few holes as of late. It was almost looking like they were never going to release a new album, but it's here and it's studio album number four, titled In Becoming A Ghost. With all of the controversy the band has caused and with fans falling out of love with them after being unreliable, will they have a strong offering to win back their followers? Let's find out.
In Becoming A Ghost features Michael Keene on lead guitar, clean vocals, vocoder, keyboards, programming, sequencing and bass. Let's face it, The Faceless has always been a one man show, they've had more members than they have made actual songs, I mean just take a look at their former members section on Wikipedia. In 2017, we now also have Justin McKinney on rhythm guitar, Ken "Sorceron" Bergeron doing lead vocals and Bryce Butler smashing the drums. Despite the countless lineup changes, they are definitely at their tightest and best sounding in terms of musicianship. It's all over the place, but it's entertaining and that's important. There are crazy levels of technical ability on this album, with each member shining in their own respective position. There's a newfound energy on this release that spreads throughout the different styles and they do a fantastic job keeping the listener intrigued and invested. Having two vocalists works really well here because of the wide variety of sounds bouncing off each other, you've got your dark, almost black metal, screeching, mixed with brutal growls provided by Sorceron. Then you've got Keene, bringing forth his operatic, Devin Townsend influenced vocals filled with emotion and power.
The first track, "Digging The Grave" erupts with an absolute assault of drum blasts, flourishing guitars and discordant tones. It's a brilliant opener with ferocious drumming and crazy alien style screams, before finishing things off with a nice little flute progression that flies alongside blasting drums and rampaging guitar work. “Black Star” and “The Spiraling Void” both provide a great energy to the album. Each song displays a range of melodic elements and vocal patterns that add a cosmic atmosphere to their structure. The guitar in “Black Star” rides to a colorful rhythm as the bass pumps away, with the drumming and vocals of “The Spiraling Void” ranging in their technicality. The guitar in “The Spiraling Void” shifts with various inflections, presenting a range of sounds that are radiant and dark.
“Cup of Mephistopheles” begins with a minimal lingering that looms with a somber aura. Keene’s vocals are haunting, as he sings the lines, “Nothing affects me/ No one to rush me/ When I’m laying in my six-foot-hole.” The song bursts into a dark theatric flow, dropping bits of gothic flavoring into the sound. The drumming rips with black metal style, adding a cold emotion to the work. The track rings with sinister appeal, offering strong Abigail Williams vibes thanks to the shredding guitar and Sorceron’s vocals. “Shake The Disease” is actually a Depeche Mode cover, and makes for an entertaining track. The instrumentals shift from creepy tones, to a more upbeat carnival-like brightness. In particular, Keene’s vocals introduce this really stunning effect that is both powerful and elegant. The only weird moment in the record is an interlude that comes towards the end. It’s really short, and doesn’t add anything to the album. That being said, this one moment doesn’t hurt the overall record.
So, was it worth the wait? Is it too little too late? Well, let me tell you that this album just about makes me forget everything bad that has been associated with The Faceless. In Becoming A Ghost is a remarkable album from start to finish and there's no denying when they're relevant and in the midst of a new release like this one, The Faceless are among some of the best heavy acts, but let's hope that they don't fade away again because this is such a strong release that could potentially boost them to another level. It's special, it's unique, it's magic. Putting all the recent drama surrounding this band aside, this is a clear step up from Autotheism and a very important release for Michael Keene and his band, The Faceless. It’s all over the place, but we absolutely love it!
9.5 out of 10.