By Eric Perzanowski, Contributor
Key Tracks: “Cup of Mephistopheles”, “Digging The Grave”, “Shake The Disease”
In recent years, The Faceless has become less known for its music and more known for its misfortunes and controversies. Between several dropped-off tours, a number of apparent studio delays and a constant rotation of new members in and out of the lineup, things just don’t go right for The Faceless.
Regardless of who’s at fault in all of these occurrences, it’s rather unfortunate. When The Faceless do release music, it’s usually top-notch technical and progressive death metal. Despite reading at times like a person wearing an “I’m an atheist, debate me” shirt, the group’s previous effort, 2012’s Autotheism, was personally one of the best metal albums that year. Five years later, In Becoming a Ghost is finally released. As this new album builds on the progression of its predecessor, it doesn’t reach the same landmark heights.
The introductory, titular track is an eerie piano loop with a deep, haunting voice narrating. This intro seemed to set the album up to be like a Carach Angren-style classic ghost story horror album. The voiceover summons thoughts of riding The Haunted Mansion at Disney, especially in the final lines of the track, “For I am the door that cannot be closed / Though you walk the earth, in becoming a ghost, there is no return”.
As the rest of the album progresses, it’s clear that this is still the futuristic-sounding tech/prog Faceless. The intro, and the reprise, later on, titled “Ghost Reprise”, seem out of place with the rest of the work. There are vocals mixed with vocoders and industrial samplings. “Digging The Grave” evens features a frantic flute solo from Sergio Flores, who worked with the group previously on Autotheism. Midway through is a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Shake The Disease”. There’s a weird upbeat feel of the cover, which contrasts greatly against the ominousness of tracks like “Cup of Mephistopheles”, or “The Terminal Breath”. However, it’s that contrast that makes it intriguing.
Fans of The Faceless will adore the nerdy progressive and tech elements of In Becoming a Ghost but those who were put off by founding member Michael Keene’s clean vocals in Autotheism will not find solace here. If the band can maintain a stable core lineup, there’s no reason why The Faceless can’t reclaim its status as tech-death powerhouses. One just hopes it doesn’t take another five years for that to happen.