Reviewed: July, 2020
Released: 2020, Punishment 18 Records
Reviewer: Jack Merry
Italian thrash metal band Reverber return with their third full-length album entitled Sect of Faceless. Founded in 2007 by a group of young musicians with a hunger and a fire to deliver thrash metal at maximum power, Reverber released their excellent debut Serial Metal Killer in 2009. Several lineup changes later, Reverber would release Immortals in 2016; an album that was praised by critics and fans across the board.
Comprised of nine brand new original tracks and an inspired, blistering cover of “Angel Witch” by the band of the same name, Reverber’s new album Sect of Faceless is an air guitarist’s wet dream. Volatile razor-sharp riffs meld with incendiary and technically impressive solos that defy all sense of logic and gravity as they shift from soaring highs to hellish lows in the blink of an eye across the entire album. Recorded at Stefano Morabito’s 16th Cellar Studio, Sect of Faceless has a high-quality production that shows Reverber is finally cohesive and willing to start a professional career on the world’s metal stage; still carrying the same hunger and fire they had over a decade ago.
Of the album title, the band says:
“Neo-slavery, austerity, mass control, shock economy. People believe that there’s a hidden sect, a faceless and nameless elite who can manage our lives. But it’s an illusion: it is all black on white, what we don’t see is only our addiction to a system based on consumption and image, a world of colored lights where people are blind, a torture garden where we love to abandon ourselves to oblivion of slaughter.”
The album wastes no time in setting the tone, as “Gods of Illusion” roars out of the starting gate at a relentless pace. Cavernous drums courtesy of Alessio Stazi propel the song into oblivion as vocalist Marco Mitraja warns of the danger of worshipping fake idols and false prophecies. It’s during the second half of the track that my favourite moment of the entire record happens, as stratospheric Maiden-esque lead work soars effortlessly above a dynamic eruptive riff, and it’s perfect. It ticks all of my boxes for a great thrash track, and that’s just the opening song.
Title track “Sect of Faceless” begins with a stop-start rhythm to ramp up the tension and it’s not too long before the machine gun riffing and clockwork accurate drum beats kick into gear, launching the song into a propulsive rhythm that doesn’t let up. “Channel 666” gives new life to the age-old idea and popular thrash topic of television, technology, and entertainment being the Devil’s new form in modern life. It’s propped up by a monumental riff and double bass drum attacks throughout as it powers towards its conclusion.
“Nightmareland” sounds just as aggressive as you’d think it would, and the track highlights the dual guitar harmonies and power of vocalist Marco Mitraja on rhythm guitar along with some lead parts, and Alessio Alessandretti as the mesmerising lead work twists, turns and soars atop a breathless assault from the bass and drums. “Arachnophobia” is one of the more dynamic tracks on the album as a quiet respite starts the track, creeping and crawling its way over your skin, and it’s not long before it is injected with a certain amount of venom. Riffs launch to and fro at a relentless pace, you’ll be needing a neck brace by the halfway mark.
There’s so much to love here that I don’t think any of the songs are bad, just some I prefer over others. “Vlad” and “Black Plague” just don’t do a lot for me sadly, and I found myself wanting to skip those whenever I listened through. Very technically impressive, but I can’t gel with the melodies. Perhaps over time, they will grow on me. The rest of the album is so great that I’ll have this on rotation for a while yet, maybe they’ll click with me down the line.
Judging from the darkly impressive album cover, the band are clearly no fans of the 9-5 grind as it depicts a suited man tired of his life, becoming something new; something free of the chains holding him back, tearing at his face as a group of seemingly faceless suited people watch on. Thematically, Reverber is not politically motivated as such but has always shown awareness and a certain animosity towards the current global economic and political system, namely financial elites and capitalist neo-slavery. There’s an element of Pink Floyd‘s The Wall to the album’s subject matter as well, as most of Sect of Faceless brings to mind the image of the headmaster pushing schoolchildren through the meat grinder; trapped within the system.
Fans of Annihilator, Exodus, Kreator, and Testament will adore Sect of Faceless, as it’s a fantastic no-nonsense balls-to-the-wall thrash metal record that’s fit to burst with world-shaking guitars, pummeling drums, soaring vocals with just the right amount of grit and thundering bass guitars. If you’re looking for a way into the genre, however, I wouldn’t recommend starting here; as while it’s an excellent record, I don’t think it’s very accessible to newcomers. If you love thrash metal, you’ll love this. Reverber has crafted an album that is both technically and musically very impressive, and it will surely go down as one of the finest thrash metal albums 2020 has to offer.