After half a decade of touring and recording, the fourth full-length album from technical death metal ensemble The Faceless, In Becoming A Ghost, has been released, an album which has been greatly anticipated by fans for years. That anticipation has been rewarded in the form of an absolutely fantastic album, laden with the now expected groovy, frett-less bass, the hypnotic, sliding vocals, and, of course, high velocity, high adrenaline death metal. However, while all of the staples of a usual The Faceless album are here, In Becoming A Ghost is an entirely different beast all together, sounding miles apart from predecessors. This is in no means a bad thing, but something which is important to understand about the band’s newest release.
In Becoming A Ghost is, as mentioned, an excellent album. The Faceless have pushed the barriers as to what it means to be a death metal band once more, acting as adventurers into the great unknown that is experimental metal. The album is, first and foremost, a death metal album, meaning that there are all of the tropes and concepts which create the death metal sound: furious blast beats, harsh, screamed vocals, atonal guitar solos, to name a few. However, while this all exists within the album, it merely acts as a base for The Faceless to build on, allowing them to flourish in a field in which they have already become heavy hitters, all the while having the ability to seek new musical plateaus.
The difference between this album and, say, Akeldama is noticeable from the word go. Introductory and title track “In Becoming A Ghost” is an entirely un-metal experience, akin more to a BBC Radio 4 drama than a death metal album, as it entails vocalist Michael Keene talking morbidly in a sticky fashion, while an unsettling piano twinkles in the background. This is, while not being a very metal track, the perfect introduction to this album, simply due to the fact that it is different from everything before it and the band are willing to show that from the get-go. Immediately following this is “Digging The Grave”, which starts with what can only be described as an onslaught of vicious guitar riffs and drum beats, acting as proof that the band are not entirely changed from prior releases, and effectively connoting that In Becoming A Ghost will merge these two different styles into one.
This is ultimately what listeners will find within this album; the classic death metal style which we all know and love, mixed in with something new, different, and even, dare I say it, frightening? This is simply down to the fact that the album acts so differently in certain points that it could potentially alienate purists (though that is not something difficult to do). The inclusion of a Dimmu Borgir-esque style, where orchestral excerpts are used alongside a deliberately over-acted style of singing, might be too much for certain people, and for those fans, I urge you to open your mind and let your rigid musical standards be challenged.
In Becoming A Ghost is different, and even a little overly-dramatic in places, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Heavy metal at its core is about pushing boundaries and challenging musical norms, which, if taken into consideration, means that The Faceless have created an album which captures the true meaning of heavy metal.
In Becoming A Ghost will certainly become an immediate classic with those who have an open mind, and will be cast out as a mistake by purists or elitists. If you are willing to have your ideas as to what should occur within a death metal album challenged, then In Becoming A Ghost is exactly the album for you. It may be a change from the usual style expected from The Faceless, but it is a welcome one.
In Becoming A Ghost is out now and is available to buy on Amazon.