Written by Patrick (Heavy_Therapy)
Faceless Burial – At the Foothills of Deliration
> Death metal
> Victoria, Australia
> Releasing October 7
> Dark Descent / Me Saco Un Ojo
In no time, Faceless Burial have made a name for themselves in the extreme metal underground. After only one demo, released in 2015, they released their debut LP in 2017, titled Grotesque Miscreation. It was chock full of twisting riffs, abrupt tempo changes, thrashy grooves, and deep low guttural vocals to match the best of them. I would argue, though, that it wasn’t until their second full length, Speciation, that they really showcased why they were a formidable band with few peers at the top of the death metal ladder. The songs really came together on top of the obvious musicianship. This brings me to their new full-length, At the Foothills of Deliration. Cards on the table: I knew this would be good for the reasons above. I didn’t know how good or in what way.
Right out the gate, “Equipoise Recast” sets the tone. The band jam-packs so much inside the first three minutes of this song—and do the same in the second half—that it is quite difficult to describe all the moments. I’ll give it a shot by describing what came to my mind while listening. Füj’s riffs call to mind Primordial Malignity-era Tomb Mold. There’s a solo that comes creeping in around the two-minute mark and by the end you get dragged through thrash riffs, VoidCeremony-like bass lines, and Ænigmatum’s weird atmosphere. Oh, and there’s this doom section that melts away into some brutal death pounding. Other bands that came to my mind were Blood Incantation, Death, and Grave Miasma. This is seriously all in one track, one that is one of my favorites of the year.
The first pre-album drop “A Mire of Penitence” locks in an infectious and memorable groove, and a few minutes later when they bring it back, they augment it with some amazing drum work. In fact, what Faceless Burial do so well throughout the album is knowing when to introduce callbacks, developing anchor riffs and reintroduce them at precisely the right time; and they never have a weak transition that doesn’t work or feels awkward. For as much as the band has attempted here, you would think there would be more missteps, but there aren’t: this is top-tier technical and progressive death metal that is also brutal without being “brutal death metal.”
This album is a bit noisier and chaotic than their previous releases. And the vocals really act as this in-the-pocket-groove texture letting the instruments shine more. The third track “Dehiscent” illustrates this. The track also calls to mind Cryptic Shift in all its cosmic death-thrash glory. The song has these unique chug-phrasing and tempo changes that kept me rewinding the song to really get a grip on them. For Faceless Burial, this song was straightforward. For any other band, this would probably be the most complex of the bunch.
The momentum of this album is something else to take note of as the drums and the guitars really keep this consistent energy across nearly all 40 minutes of this album. And 40 minutes itself breezes by—and we know what a slow, plodding 40 minutes can feel like. Not fun. For those who like to melt their mind, this is a fun listen.
“From the Bastion to the Pit” is the centerpiece of the album, coming right in the middle of the album at seven minutes long. This was the hardest track for me to get into—but that’s only because of how strong the opening first half of this album was. On this song, towards the last quarter of it, Alex’s bass line takes the lead; it’s super slippery, bouncy, and memorable.
On prior albums their title tracks were some of their strongest: “Grotesque Miscreation” on that release; and “Speciation” on the next one. The modified title track for this album is the penultimate track—and it’s an instrumental. “Haruspex at the Foothills of Deliration” features this really cool synth backbone, played by bassist Alex, that is a moment of respite; it’s somber, beautiful, touching, and evokes the feeling the little people on the album cover must experience when they stand on the foothills. This instrumental acts as a great emotional bridge to the final track “Redivivus Through Vaticination”.
This album is ambitious: the music is adventurous, the performances are virtuosic, and the mix and mastering—handled by Pete DeBoer—lets every track, every instrument, be heard. Throughout, the bass is more prominent in the mix—you can hear it quite often! It is slightly more chaotic (see track #2, “A Mire of Penitence”) than their last album. If I have any criticism, it’s that the final two tracks, broken up by a great instrumental, are weaker than the start of the album. And even though Faceless Burial throws a lot at you, the first song does roadmap how the rest of the album is going to play out. This is not a bad thing per se; in fact, this is one of my favorite albums of the year because that first song is one of the most interesting, technical, and fun to listen to death metal songs I’ve heard in a while. And while I was reminded of a few other bands at times, this wasn’t too often. Faceless Burial truly sound like themselves.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is an obvious listen for fans of technical and challenging death metal as it balms all the requisite itches. It’s a satisfying listen. In a year jam-packed with releases from great up-and-coming death metal bands and classics alike, Faceless Burial prove once again why they won’t be one of the nameless, faceless buried in the mass grave. But they, in fact, might be digging the graves of all the mid-tier competition standing over top the foothills as one of the modern underground’s hottest bands.