Faceless Burial

While 2020 will stand as a year most of us would rather forget, thankfully amidst the worldwide chaos, metal has been a shining light of catharsis and hope. The death metal scene has enjoyed another particularly potent year, with no signs of slowing down.

Australian power trio Faceless Burial offer a bludgeoning antidote to the woes of the current global climate on sophomore platter Speciation. Musical evolution can be a truly wondrous thing when said evolution goes in a direction the listener is pleased with. It proves a winning scenario for Faceless Burial, morphing from their rugged old school death roots and more straightforward bludgeon, into a fully developed and advanced entity of destruction.

Speciation is a bulldozing album and impressive leap forward for the band, their eloquent butchery angling down increasingly complex and progressive corridors. Influences ranging from the mighty Suffocation, to mid-era Death, and early Gorguts, inform but never dilute a sound grounded in the turf of classic old school death. Faceless Burial’s obvious appreciation of old school death is updated for modern times, executed with oodles of style, finesse, and character. A variety of components combine in perfect harmony, as mutating progressive and technical turns collide with barbaric aggression, searing blasts, and wrecking ball grooves. However, the technical smarts and intricate arrangements do not come at the cost of other key components, such as brutality, catchy riffs, and memorable writing. Each song features numerous noteworthy musical elements, syncing intelligent, progressive diversions with classic old school death, complete with in-your-face blasts, guttural vocals, thick pummelling tones, and addictive riffs.

Right off the bat, Faceless Burial get down and dirty with the dense and dynamically structured opener “Worship.” The song is a powerful, riffy beast chock full of complex rhythms, choppy, intricate, yet coherent guitar work, swift tempo shifts, and early album examples of the band’s excellent riffcraft. From here on the good times keep rolling. While only six songs feature, there is a weightiness to Speciation, in both depth and content. The lengthy songs are so well composed and developed that interest never waivers. Even the shortest, most concise track, the awesomely titled “Irreparably Corpsed,” packs tons of energy, aggression, and labyrinthine twists into an action packed assault, which is frenetic and off-kilter in the best kind of way. Momentum is never lost as the album hurtles towards its climax. For example, compelling later album highlight “Spurning Catarrhal Gruel” is a knotty juggernaut which bends, writhes, and mutates in exciting and unexpected ways, built on cornerstones of complexity, groove, and hammering riffs.

When death metal bands venture down progressive pathways, sometimes the risk of diluting aggression and brutality hovers. Thankfully, this never becomes an issue, with Faceless Burial ensuring both elements are key cogs. Even amidst the supreme technical proficiency on display, the unrelenting barrage is always in forward motion, as eloquent leads and solos are skilfully threaded into the fray (check stunning closer “Ravished to the Unknown”), adding shreds of melody. Finding any major issues with Speciation is fruitless, such is the quality and consistency of the album. On one hand, while Faceless Burial put a fresh perspective on a classic death formula, I guess there is nothing particularly original on offer. Meanwhile, the beefy, indecipherable growls of bassist/vocalist Alex Macfarlane are a little one-dimensional and lacking in variation. However, these are relatively picky and minor gripes that do not significantly detract from an otherwise exceptional album.

Faceless Burial took me by surprise with this advanced platter of barnstorming, progressively aligned, but bludgeoning death, rearranging familiar influences from the past into their own intelligent modern platter of top shelf death. Terrific production and killer artwork tie together the whole package, resulting in one of the stronger death metal albums of the year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
August 28th, 2020


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