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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States

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The Faceless biography
THE FACELESS was formed in California, in the Encino area in 2005 by guitarist Michael Keene and bassist Brandon Giffin. Their project was to create a powerful technical metal ensemble. Soon they were joined by highly capable musicians and turned their idea into reality, like drummer Brett Batdorf (of the LA death metal band TCHILDRES) and singer Jeff Ventimiglia.

In 2006 THE FACELESS released their first demo, which was soon followed by their first full-length, "Akeldama", which received good reviews from the press and the metal community. Their very challenging brand of extreme-technical progressive death metal put them in the same group as older masters as DEATH, ATHEIST, but with a sound clearly unique, and with lots of other influences, which made their music sound very contemporary.

THE FACELESS suffered the loss of their singer Veintimiglia and drummer Batford soon after "Akeldama" was released. Derek Rydquist repleced the former, while many drummers had to fill the seat of the latter, until the band finally settled in Elliott Sellers.

Why this artist must be listed in :
THE FACELESS play a very technical brand of extreme metal. Their mixture of incredibly fast rhythms and ultra-dark growling vocals make them one of the most hard-hitting outfits in the scene, but the virtuosic display, aided by the atmospheric keyboards and haunting pianos, plus the outstanding drumming, earned them a very deserved place here in ProgArchives.

Akeldama, studio album (2006)

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THE FACELESS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

THE FACELESS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 17 ratings
3.73 | 25 ratings
Planetary Duality
3.30 | 29 ratings
3.12 | 6 ratings
In Becoming A Ghost

THE FACELESS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE FACELESS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE FACELESS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE FACELESS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Becoming A Ghost by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.12 | 6 ratings

In Becoming A Ghost
The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Up until now, my relationship with The Faceless had been a slowly deteriorating one. When I first heard Planetary Duality and Akeldama back in 2009, I thought it was the heaviest, fastest, and most technical stuff on the planet. The intricate guitar harmonies, the frenzied drumming, and varied vocal work made it clear to me that we were witnessing a fantastic new beacon for technical death metal. Throw in some progressive rock influences and some creepy sci-fi interludes for good measure, and things just got more interesting. But sadly, Autotheism ruined the good will built up by many fans. It wasn't an awful album, but it sounded disjointed and undercooked by the band's standards. And of course, lead guitarist and (I guess) figurehead Michael Keene's ego seemed to be getting in the way of the band's future. So it's pretty safe to say that I was approaching In Becoming a Ghost with much more caution than usual. Luckily, I'm pleased to report that my fears have mostly been erased.

In Becoming a Ghost is largely defined by a more cinematic, progressive identity than its predecessors, and it can be considered the band's furthest removed from their original sound. But, bizarrely enough, this isn't as much of a problem as you'd think. The experimentation is wrapped up in song structures and lyrical themes that are both engaging and tight, and the progressive elements serve more to bolster the atmosphere than be an excuse to noodle around. As if the haunting piano part of the intro title track wasn't cool enough, we get to hear some killer tech-death flute melodies (!) and full-on symphonic passages in its followup 'Digging the Grave.' That's not to say the aggression is absent, though; Abigail Williams vocalist Ken Sorceron is more than enough to fill the shoes of Derek Rydquist with his strong mix of guttural growls and black metal shrieks. The riffs are still quite punishing in parts too, especially in the killer tremolo-picked riff that kicks of 'The Spiralling Void.' But the difference between this album and Autotheism is that it seems to have more purpose to it. I get the sense that the band members genuinely put their all into this one, and that they really wanted to experiment around with what they thought was cool. Oftentimes, the framework surrounding the riffs is just as interesting as the riffs themselves, such as the weird staccato bass stabs that dance around the guitar intro of 'I Am' or the deranged orchestral breaks in 'Shake the Disease.' As for the problems with the album, I only have two major ones. One is, as in Autotheism, that Michael Keene's voice gets way too much time in the spotlight. Remember when his voice would pop up very sparingly in Planetary Duality to add a little extra atmosphere and variety" Well, he sings in just about every track here. And, simply put, his voice is just boring. His inflections make him sound uninterested with the subject matter, and he draws attention away from the far superior performances of Ken Sorceron. Also, while the band's technical skills are still impressive, the riffs aren't the most memorable around. This has been a problem with past Faceless records, but sometimes the band get so caught up in their experimentation and technicality that their riffs don't really stick with you very well. But maybe that's because In Becoming a Ghost will need a bit more time to sink in. Regardless, it's impressive what they accomplished here. It seems as though the band are getting closer to fully realizing their potential as a progressive death metal band; it's just time that they tightened up their songcraft... and perhaps let Michael Keene stick to just his guitar playing and songwriting.

 Autotheism by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.30 | 29 ratings

The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Autotheism' - The Faceless (41/100)

Above anything else, The Faceless' Autotheism is a problematic album. I did enjoy Planetary Duality quite a bit, and there are plenty of moments on Autotheism that recall The Faceless' past achievements. The central style finds itself at a crossroads between modern tech death and Dream Theater-variety progressive metal; the mention of that combination alone should spark some doubts, but The Faceless can, and often do make it work in their favour. Having just recently seen them headline the 2014 Summer Slaughter tour with the likes of Archspire, Rings of Saturn etc., there's no doubt The Faceless can bring it to the table in terms of sheer technical instrumentation. The guitars entwine excellently with Lyle Cooper's drumwork, and the guitars navigate the album's more challenging parts with style. That's not what's wrong with Autotheism.

I usually love it when bands put a progressive, or unexpected swing on a genre like tech death- most of the time it gives the music a tinge of spontaneity that may have otherwise been lost in the sea of sweeps and robotic notation. The Faceless have certainly made themselves out to be a band who takes the road less travelled in terms of technical death metal. Allusions to Dream Theater, multi-part epics and clean vocals are all well-off the beaten path for the style. It should by all means work, but by the end of Autotheism I'm left thinking like the album might have been best contained within the tech death sphere. The Faceless remain good at what they know, but whenever there's a detour, the vision feels undercooked.

There's no better example of this than the multi-part suite and title piece. In keeping with the other less-successful prog epics I've heard, "Autotheism" offers up some interesting ideas, but ultimately falls apart under its own weight. There is ambition but no coherence, nothing to congeal the epic together as a definitive musical statement. If a band is intent on devoting a third of their album to a composition, I would hope I would leave it with a strong impression of the band's sound. After a pseudo-orchestral overture, The Faceless proceed to follow the footsteps of metal genius Devin Townsend's style for several minutes (clean vocals and all) before finally diving into the prog death they're most comfortable with. As much as I love Devin Townsend, any imitators (of which there are several) I've heard fall far short of what they no doubt set out to accomplish. Devin's style was exciting because it was completely his. In the case of Autotheism, The Faceless seem to cling to their interpretation of his style, not least obvious of all being Michael Keene's halfhearted clean vocals, which seem kept afloat only through a mountain of harmonizing and post-prod effects. By the suite's second movement, things begin to pick up and we hear some good riffs, but it's not long before the suite reverts back to the same plodding pace and weak prog cliches.

Particularly in the third movement "Deconsecrate", it becomes obvious that The Faceless lack the personality and sincerity to pull off a lot of these progressive sections. Hearing the band perform their Townsend facsimile felt disingenuous enough, but the weirdest moments- most notably being a carnivalesque section wherein Keene croons "God is dead"- feel forced and joyless, as if The Faceless suddenly became aware they were taking themselves too seriously, but couldn't get themselves out of a rut in time before the epic finished. On the topic of serious things, it doesn't seem like The Faceless think atheism is any joke. They remind us of this stance in virtually every song and- all beliefs aside- their way of handling the subject in their music is possibly the most awful thing about the album. Whenever they're not depending on worn expressions and cliches in their lyrics, they're preaching some holier-than-thou New Atheist sanctimony that makes Christian rock look tolerable by comparison. I'm all onboard with iconoclasm and supposed free-thinking, but The Faceless' ideology seems to be directly in line with the "In this moment, I am euphoric" brand of online atheist crusaders who, I can only imagine, polish their Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens shrines in between bouts of cosplay internet porn. My own views on religion (or, more specifically, the hypocriticism of New Atheism) certainly paint this element of The Faceless in a more negative light than it may be for others, but take a track like "Hail Science" (kill me now), an interlude not unlike Radiohead's "Fitter Happier", only with an extra helping of cringeworthy anti- religious sentiment. From this and other sets of lyrics, I get the impression that The Faceless (like many of the fedora-bound internet gremlins you'll find lurking on the forums) place the blame of all human ills and indecency on religion and belief in a God that doesn't exist. If The Faceless agree with me that God is most likely a fabrication, then they should also acknowledge that it must be somewhere in human nature itself for people to do these [&*!#]ty, ignorant things to one another. If God is truly dead, then we have only ourselves to blame.

At the album's best, Autotheism flirts with better-than-average tech death riffery and suggests some great potential in the prog metal sector as well. Each time I've finished listening through the album however, I can think of more problems I have with the album than things I enjoyed. If I may be diplomatic here, it's clear that The Faceless took a big risk in putting so much of the album aside to jump outside their shell and explore musically. That achievement feels dull in context when it ultimately just appears like they've jumped inside another shell, of a more uncompromising and visionary artist than they themselves are. The songwriting is generally bland and forgettable, and the concept is idiotic. I never thought I'd say this, but give me straight up tech death over this any day.

 Autotheism by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.30 | 29 ratings

The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Autotheism" is the 3rd full-length studio album by technical death metal act The Faceless. The album was released through Sumerian Records in August 2012. Itīs been four years since the release of the critically acclaimed "Planetary Duality (2008)". An album that showed a progression from the bandīs early more "core" oriented sound to a technical death metal sound with progressive leanings.

...the music on "Autotheism" continues the technical death metal sound of itīs predecessor to a degree, but Iīd say the technical part of the bandīs sound is now playing second violin to the progressive part of their sound. In other words this is more a progressive death metal release, which is technically well played, than it is a technical death metal release with progressive leanings like the case was with "Planetary Duality (2008)". The change in style between the two albums is actually so radical that at times Iīm in doubt if itīs the same band playing. Influences from artists like Devin Townsend and especially Opeth are strong on the album and there are extensive use of clean vocals (in addition to growling vocals) on the album. A feauture that was only occasionally used on the predecessor.

The album features adventurous song structures, tempo-and time signature changes and a generally progressive mindset to creating music. Best examplified in the opening 17:43 minutes long "Autotheist Movement" (check out the carnival music in "Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate" or the dynamic semi-jazzy soloing which also occur in the suite), which might be sub-divided into three tracks but functions as one long track. The rest of the material isnīt as progressive in nature, but there is still a focus on creative ideas before technical playing.

Weīre talking high level musicianship all around and a powerful sound production that suits the music well, which of course adds further to how professional sounding and enjoyable the album is as a whole.

If I take on the objective glasses "Autotheism" is a damn fine progressive/technical death metal album strongly influenced by Opeth and at times Devin Townsend. A high quality release and recommendable to fans of the style.

On a personal level Iīm slightly disappointed that theyīve changed their style so much since "Planetary Duality (2008)" (which I still think is one of the strongest tech death metal albums, released after 2000), that I have a hard time recognising "Autotheism" as a The Faceless release. There was a big difference in sound and style between the debut and "Planetary Duality (2008)" but this time I think theyīve worn their influences a bit too much on their sleeve and in the process have forgotten to focus on who they are as a band and what made them distinct and unique sounding. Musical development is fine, but not necessarily if you sacrifice identity in the process.

Still Iīll go with the objective opinion about "Autotheism", when I rate it, because you canīt take away from the album that itīs extremely well played, well produced and very creatively put together, and I know I would have rated it high, if it was the debut album by a new artist. So a 4 star (80%) rating is still deserved despite my reservations.

 Planetary Duality  by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.73 | 25 ratings

Planetary Duality
The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars There are some albums out there that contain songs with a few great riffs that get repeated ad-nauseum to the point where the song is needlessly stretched out to tiresome lengths. This is not one of those albums. In fact, there's so many quick little riffs flying by that these songs feel like a blur at times. It can be fun at times to be bombarded with so much wankery and blasterbation, but it can also be irritating.

These guys are certainly more than capable at their instruments, and they sure in hell want you to know it. Even the bass player gets a quick little moment to shine at the beginning of one of the tunes. There's also some occasional diversions and additions to spice up the proceedings with a little bit of variety to avoid ennui from a constant non-stop barrage of riffs, sweeps and arpeggios. You have some keyboard moments, including a short instrumental that's quite atmospheric, some "clean" singing tossed about here and there along with a vocoder robot voice that once in a while pays a visit. There's also a couple of jazzy moments, maybe as a bone to throw at fans of Cynic and a few other extreme progressive metal bands. With the sci-fi theme, The Faceless here do seem to be seriously vying for the progressive stratosphere, at least within the confines of the extreme metal genre. My issue, though, is that nothing sticks at all, except for a few random moments here and there. It's like listening to guys practicing their scales together as fast as possible before launching into a bunch of riffs in which only a few have lasting power. The band does bounce around with genre expectations, including a small bit that sounds more like polished black metal than death metal, but as a whole I found myself enjoying parts of songs that work or sound cool as opposed to any tune for the full duration.

Apparently there are some 'deathcore' elements to this group's work, so take that for what it's worth, since it sounds like technical death metal with some embellishments and nothing more to me. It's certainly busy, and thankfully short at under 35 minutes with some monstrous skill involved. It's quite cleanly though unremarkably produced and thus with little atmosphere the songs rely on their craftsmanship and technicality. The Faceless have the technicality down pat for sure, so hopefully in the future they can balance their work by focusing more on creating songs that resonate instead of a bunch of ideas strung together. I will give it credit for being entertaining at times and decent enough if I'm in the mood for this sort of thing.

 Planetary Duality  by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.73 | 25 ratings

Planetary Duality
The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by horsewithteeth11
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Wow! Talk about a mind-blowing album! The few samples I'd heard of The Faceless didn't impress me that much. So I figured I'd take the plunge and went and got their latest effort, Planetary Duality. And I was absolutely floored by it. If there was a blueprint for making technical death metal, I'd say these guys have written a pretty detailed one. This album clocks in at merely under thirty two minutes, but music of this kind doesn't need to take up much time or space. The Faceless may very well be a band to pay attention to in the years to come.

The Faceless plays a brand of technical death metal that reaches the complexity of giants in the genre such as Cynic and Atheist while adding a few elements of deathcore and metalcore. The vocals are very brutal as one would expect and the music is no less brutal. But there are melodic elements that appear in glimpses every now and then. Derek Rydquist's vocals are very much in the realm of metalcore and death growls, but guitarist Michael Keene adds some variety with a few clean vocals and the use of a vocoder. The music itself however is absolutely flooring. These guys have some serious chops, and hearing the brief bass riff and arpeggio guitars in the intro of The Ancient Covenant really helped seal the deal for me. Each song feels like it's composed of hundreds of riffs, and each one is almost as mind-blowing as the ones that come after it.

I'd love to give this release 5 stars, but it has yet to stand the test of time for me. So I'll give it 4 for now, but I am very likely to move this up to 5 eventually. Fans of technical or death metal owe it to themselves to check this out.

 Planetary Duality  by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.73 | 25 ratings

Planetary Duality
The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Planetary Duality is the second full-length studio album by American tech death metal act The Faceless. The album was released on the 11th of November 2008 through Sumerian Records ( released by Lifeforce Records on the 23th of February 2009) and is produced by guitarist/ clean vocalist Micheal Keene. Drummer Lyle Cooper has been added to the lineup since the debut album Akeldama (2006) but the rest of the lineup from that album remains. I was pretty impressed with Akeldama when I listened to it and wrote my review but it really didnīt suit my personal taste much at the time so I was a bit reluctant to purchase Planetary Duality. But boy have my doubts been put to shame.

The music is technical death metal. Itīs very brutal but actually melodic as well in glimpses. The guitar riffs are sharp and fast with lots of precise and technically complex drumming to go along. The vocals are mostly deep brutal growls ( a few higher pitched too) but there are occasional clean/ vocoder vocals which is great for the variation on the album. One of my favorite features on the album are the many melodic guitar solos though. Very skillfully executed and an oasis of beauty in the midst of brutal death metal.

The album starts with the short and brutal Prison Born and I was not convinced right away. I enjoy it greatly now though. My interest increased greatly with the second song The Ancient Covenant though. That song is simply amazing tech death metal. Powerful and fast with some great guitar motifs. Shape Shifters is a short instrumental break before Coldy Calculated Design begins and weīre once again treated with a fast and technical death metal track. Xeno Christ is a bit different and heavier but still with faster parts. Great varied song that one. Sons of Belial is the song with most obvious use of clean vocals even though those vocals actually only occur twice in the song and only for a few seconds at a time. I didnīt care much for the clean vocals the first many times I listened to the album but Iīve come to appreciate them greatly the more Iīve listened to the album. Legion of the Serpent is next and itīs the most melodic song on the album. Itīs a great song and very important for the diversity of the album. Planetary Duality I : Hideous Revelation is an intro to Planetary Duality II : A Prophecies Fruition. The short track has some sci-fi samples which really creates the right atmopshere before the going into Planetary Duality II : A Prophecies Fruition which is another excellent tech death metal track.

The musicianship is outstanding. This is very complex and demanding music and The Faceless is very tight. A great performance. If you crave airtight musicianship look no further.

The production is excellent. Clean and sharp as the genre demands. Very enjoyable.

My review should pretty much reveal my excitement about Planetary Duality, but it will still have to pass the test of time, for me to reward it with a 5 star rating. This album is a very likely candidate for the masterpiece rating though and I will definitely re-consider my BIG 4 star rating in the future. This is one of the best tech death metal albums Iīve heard in years and firmly places The Faceless in todayīs tech death metal elite. Planetary Duality is a must hear IMO. Very recommendable to fans of the genre.

 Akeldama by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.07 | 17 ratings

The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by hawkcwg

5 stars I think If you are a Big Death Metal Fan this is an Essential Album. Its very clean, crisp, hardcore, brutal, technical death metal and it is definitely worth checking out. You may be a prog snob, but If you are a musician or can respect insane great technically complex instrumentation i'd definitely check this out.

I first found this band while listening to the radio station, and I made a station called Necrophagist radio the band, and it played similar artists to Necrophagist and they Played Some Meshuggah and The Faceless and others and when I heard the Faceless I instantly bookmarked the song because it was so rhythmic and interesting. There songs still play on my radio stations from Pandora and I really like the musicians. The drumming is insanely fast and the guitar is blistering, and they have some really great ideas and you can tell they've been working really hard. Check EM OUT!!!!!!!!!!

 Planetary Duality  by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.73 | 25 ratings

Planetary Duality
The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by topofsm

3 stars For anyone with an eye on this album, get ready for a brutal technical experience. This album is filled with blastbeats, complex time changes, deep death growls, and technical guitars. In fact, there's not too much to get most fans to keep listening. Even after several listens, most of this album will seem like a blur, since there is very little in the way of melody or memorable riffs.

However, one will get to know the sounds of certain tracks. If a track could be described as memorable on this album it would probably be The Ancient Covenant with a killer bass intro and quick arpeggios sewn through it.

Of course, there's Shape Shifters which is for the most part a short, eerie instrumental with strange synth/guitar. However, it doesn't really fit with rest of the album in terms of composition.

There's much more to Planetary Duality then just technical death metal though. Vocoder vocals are common, but the robotic voices don't add at all to the accessibilty of the music. If anything, it just makes it more unusual. There are a few instances of actual singing in the album, but it sounds rather out of place. Imagine James Labrie in Nile for example, and that should give the idea. Also one can find a few interesting piano lines.

All in all, it's a great album if you want to go crazy with your metal head friends. But even for the most extreme prog metal fans this will be difficult to digest, there's not much to get one's foot in the door. And forget the slightest notion of any classic prog fan trying to enjoy this. I feel a three out of five star rating is the best rating for it.

 Akeldama by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.07 | 17 ratings

The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Akeldama" is the debut full-length studio album by US, California based technical/progressive death metal act The Faceless. The album was released through Sumerian Records in November 2006. The Faceless was formed in 2004 and was at that point a four-piece without a permanent drummer. The drumming on the album is therefore handled by no less than four different session drummers. All skilled performers, who deliver fast precision playing, suiting the bandīs demanding music perfectly.

Stylistically the material on the 8 track, 33:18 minutes long album is technical/progressive death metal with the occasional nod towards deathcore and more than a few parts which can be labelled melodeath. When the latter parts occur Iīm reminded of an artist like The Black Dahlia Murder, but that is only a part of the bandīs sound, and the music on "Akeldama" is generally a much more varied size.

The album opens with "An Autopsy", and itīs one of those tracks thatīll blow most listeners away. Jaw-dropping techncial playing, compositional diversity, and just loads of power and aggression. Pretty soon The Faceless introduce a little clean singing, deathcore breakdowns, and progressive structures and adventurous ideas, which ultimately make "Akeldama" a little more than your standard technical/progressive death metal release. The vocals vary between deep growling and higher pitched screaming (and as mentioned above the occasional clean vocal part).

"Akeldama" features a clear, powerful, and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly. So upon conclusion "Akeldama" is a high quality debut album by The Faceless. Some of the excursions into progressive territories make the overall flow of the album slightly inconsistent, but overall itīs a pretty impressive first release by the band and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

Thanks to The T for the artist addition. and to memowakeman for the last updates

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