Released: 2002, Elitist/Earache Records
Without Face are a progressive metal band from Hungary who first appeared on the scene in 2000 with the release of their debut album, DEEP INSIDE. ASTONOMICON is their sophomore effort and is the first of a four album contract with their current label.
After listening to ASTRONOMICON over the past few weeks, the best way to describe them is as a progressive metal band with slight touches of gothic metal, especially lyrically. Thankfully, the goth touches are limited musically, but lyrically the band gives treatment to dark short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft in the songs “Pit & Pendulum” and “The Violin of Erich Zann.” It would not surprise me to learn that other songs on the album also pay tribute to great gothic writers of the past, it’s just that those are the two I recognize. As for the vocal style, the band features a dual lineup with both female and male vocals. Since the promo copy of the album I was sent does not identify the band members by name, I have to rely on the band’s website, which only gives first names. The female vocals cover the majority of the album and are handled by Julie, who sings in a style similar to that of the vocalists for Lacuna Coil and The Gathering. The male vocals are provided by Andras, whose style reminds of that employed by Jonas Renkse of Katatonia, with the occasional near-death growl thrown in to add a little punch.
The strength of this album lies in the middle third of the disc, particularly with the breathtaking songs “In the Garden” and “The Violin of Erich Zann.” Both are very atmospheric and feature interesting changes in direction. The highlight of “In the Garden” comes at around the four minute mark when the song shifts into a nice flute interlude before picking back up again. “The Violin of Erich Zann” opens with a violin intro playing over the sound of a chill wind blowing in the distance and then the heavy guitars kick in with a bang. Very nice touch and a great segue into a very good song.
Though I can’t see myself playing this CD on a regular basis, it does intrigue me enough so that I will be sure to keep an eye on Without Face in the future. With more time to hone their sound, they have the potential to cause a bit of a stir in the prog metal scene.
Official website: http://www.withoutface.34sp.com/main_eng.htm