Faceless Burial – At the Foothills of Deliration Review

I regret to inform you all that I am not Kronos. However, I do not regret to inform you that Faceless Burial has once again put out an onslaught of elder-inspired, tech/prog leaning brutality that absolutely should bludgeon your earholes. At the Foothills of Deliration makes Speciation feel lethargic. But speed does not a knockout make, nimbleness and timing can go a long way. Still, at its core, Foothills digs deeper into the band’s calculated but chaotic leanings, yet, true to their inspiration of olde, this means we’re looking at acts like late Death and Anata as melodic guides against the modern urge to breakdown and slam. Safe to say, these Aussies love metal, and metal loves them right back. So where does that leave us exactly?

If you were expecting the same album over again, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Progression is the name of the game here, and Faceless Burial knows no other path but forward. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though, that may not entirely surprise some of you: I didn’t love Speciation. Heck, there might have been some days back in 2020 when I might have said that I didn’t even like it, but my enjoyment aside, it’s hard to argue that the act didn’t distill lethal doses of Neanderthal pit-chuggery into a slobbering mass of gnarled riffs and dripping gurgles. Wisely, then, Faceless Burial enlists again audio engineer Pete deBoer, whose production credits include the like-minded (if not more cosmically oriented) Blood Incantation albums, to chisel space and lightning through mix and master into the steel-reinforced slabs that this fearsome trio threatens to tear down with each passing note.

Yeah, Faceless Burial is still a three-piece, but that doesn’t stop them from achieving harmonic overload, whether by guitarist Füj’s smartly placed overdubs or entwined bass (Alex Macfarlane) and guitar chiseling. Wielding a guitar tone with a higher nasal energy than on Speciation, Füj makes even more impactful broken whammy statements, as on the searing intro to “A Mire of Penitence” or the dive-bomb symphony that precedes the first verse of “Dehiscent”—each as likely to break your bridge as your neck. In the densest of soundscapes that Faceless Burial offers, they provide an equal amount of comfort with doubled jagged runs (“Equipoise Recast”) and synchronized stumbles through odd meter tumbles (“From the Bastion to the Pit”). And even though drummer Max Kohane (Internal Rot) may be to blame for the most skull-crushing whiplash on Foothills—that opening blast on “Equipoise Recast” will knock you down a few times—his chiming ride and surrounding splashes trigger Pavlovian wind-milling and head-bobbing against the engrossing turmoil.

This version of Faceless Burial, while slamming you from wall to wall, hopes to also lead you down a seemingly dark, twisted path with a shimmering light at the end of the tunnel. Shades of this fleeting spirituality presented before, but, with a little time to sit and smell the sandalwood,1 lyrical themes can now safely include self-realization and philosophy. With the exception of the somber penultimate interlude, each track on Foothills bookends the primary riff to create a shell of familiarity for the veering path—the tribal drum fills, the squealing solos, the cavernous howls—that can be a chore to follow. And that little fuzz-filled break (“Haruspex at the Foothills of Deliration”) provides just enough space for the enlightened, Death-reanimated refrain of “Redivivus through Vatificination,” an epic that runs us through fugal grooves, Voivod-ian chord stabs, a fractured, heroic guitar solo, and a voice that’s fighting to find escape. “With horror and hope,” Foothills closes on a transcendental note, a direction that hints at an even more adventurous future.

Without a doubt, Faceless Burial can toss another dozen of torn heads into the pile of skulls they’ve collected with their small but mighty collection of cranium crackin’ tunes. The further these enlightened pit-dwellers move away from their, by comparison, crude and crumbling beginnings, the closer they come to erupting with a voice all to their own. No longer just an OSDM band, Faceless Burial should stand confidently knowing that they helm the front of the pack in a field that lays littered with worship acts. They could never repeat Speciation and hope for success—younger bands like Astral Tomb have already latched onto that rowdiness to try and join the big boys. Faceless Burial doesn’t need to worry though. If you were consensually pulped last go around, you already know this is your jam. And, as long as they keep finding new ways to expand their madness, they’ll have the rest of us in no time.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records | Me Saco Un Ojo Records
Websites: facelessburial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/facelessburial
Releases Worldwide: October 7th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Following Kronos‘ Law of Increasing Hippietude quite nicely I might add.
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