Released: 2009, Lifeforce Records
Wow. This Californian technical progressive death metal band has really matured, coming on leaps and bounds from their 2006 album AKELDAMA. That album was coloured by deathcore/metalcore clichés, but no such worries for PLANETARY DUALITY, a highly impressive sophomore album that incorporates vaguely dystopian and futuristic themes into their lyrics.
The variety of sounds you get on this album makes it a hard one to stop listening to – it excites and sustains your interest very well in my opinion, in spite of the schizophrenic, nervous nature of the Progressive Technical Death Metal Riff ™. The vocals are especially note-worthy, ranging from Benton-like growls to some restrained and well-chosen use of the vocoder to create some very Cynic-ish sounds – tying in well with the futuristic mood. Throwing in some occasional clean vocals courtesy of guitarist Michael Keene (sounding at times like Symphony X’s Russell Allen!!!) and twinning the growls with some black-ish rasps, it’s not hard to give kudos to the variation used.
The Progressive Technical Death Metal Riff ™ is very much in play here with equal parts of Decrepit Birth and Necrophagist influence present. Throw in other technical DM names into the pot like Decapitated, Sleep Terror, Spawn of Possession and Origin and you have yourself a killer mix of blindingly fast lead riffs, frenzied and energetically melodic, while retaining powerful (and only occasional) chugalong parts and breakdowns. However, the band I’d liken The Faceless to the most are Lykathea Aflame and the sound they achieved on their 2000 album ELVENEFRIS – the arrangements, the sound, the orchestration and the overall atmospheres they evoke rival the Czech band’s best moments.
At just over half an hour in length, PLANETARY DUALITY never outstays its welcome, and there is plenty within that duration to keep fans of technical and progressive death metal happy. The musicians are one and all excellent and unquestionably highly skilled, especially guitarists Keene and Jones, and new full-time drummer Lyle Cooper. Most importantly though, while they have allowed the creative process to run wild, they have exercised discipline in drawing all the various strands together into a cohesive whole, and PLANETARY DUALITY is the product. Certainly shaping up to be one of the best death metal records of 2009.