Following their explosive debut "Akeldama" The Faceless are back with a more mature sound and songwriting sensibility.
Planetary Duality is a loose concept album, based around alien invasion. Knowing this, and viewing the amazing album artwork (Same artist as Spawn of Possession’s “Noctambulant”) gives off a very spacey feel. The album itself definitely follows this trend.
Planetary Duality introduces a more progressive side to the Faceless, incorporating a diverse range of influences to create an intense tech-death record. Clear influences from Cynic and Necrophagist are heard but they do not overpower The Faceless’ unique sound. Many will be also pleased to hear they have rid themselves of most "core" influences from “Akeldama” but they have done so without losing their trademark sound.
With tech-death instrumentation is always key, and in this department The Faceless do not disappoint. Both guitarists provide a variety of dissonant riffs, chugging and sweeps. Lead guitarist Michael Keene impresses with unique rhythmic style of soloing in nearly every song. Drum wise it is what you expect, a large amount of fast blasting and double kicking. Although not overly unique, the drummer does his job superbly. As with many albums these days the bass guitar is low in the mix, so bassist Brandon Griffin is usually just providing a bit of backing to the guitarists.
Vocally the album has what most other death metal bands do, but Derek "Demon Carcass" Rydquist Is definitely above average and growling, shrieking and the occasional mid-range scream (See Sons Of Belial). Guitarist Michael Keene provides Cynic-esque Vocoder vocal parts, and although they break the monotony of the usual vocal style, they sound a bit, well nasally. In a pre-production demo of “The Ancient Covenant” They sounded less grinding. He also uses clean vocal parts (infrequently) which offer variation but sometimes feel out of place.
The album starts off with “Prison Born” which is one of the best introduction songs I have heard in a long time. In it’s short 2-minute run-time it crams in lots of shredding, a lot of blasting, a small breakdown and a very tasteful solo.
Another standout track for me is “XenoChrist” which starts in a similar fashion to “The Ancient Covenant” and “Coldly Calculated Design” But goes into a very black metal influenced section about 25 seconds in. A “shredding” solo starts at 1:45 and runs into a quieter, more ambient section, which provides a spacey feel. The song closes on a chugging riff with a subtle keyboard melody on top.
With every album, there are always flaws. The main one with this album is the run-time. With a total of 7 songs and two short interludes, the album clocks in at a very short 31 minutes. For some, another flaw will be the presence of breakdowns. But as they are well executed and never feel forced, this isn’t a huge con. The lack of a full time keyboardist is also apparent, and although there are sections with keyboards, they are never as well executed as the parts on “Akeldama”.
Overall “Planetary Duality” is a very high quality tech-death album. Had there been another 2 songs, more keyboard and less irritating vocoder, I would be inclined to give it a ten. But I settle with a great 8/10 score. Hopefully The Faceless can overcome these problems and build on this album for their 3rd record.
2. The Ancient Covenant
3. Shape Shifters
4. Coldly Calculated Design
6. Sons of Belial
7. Legions of the Serpent*
8. Planetary Duality I (Hideous Revelation)
9. Planetary Duality II (A Prophecies Fruition)