Faceless Entity – The Great Anguish of Rapture Review

The Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus maintained that fear of death is irrational, for while we exist, our death is not, and when death comes, we do not exist. This hasn’t convinced Faceless Entity, whose brand of black metal they describe as “audial thanatophobia” (fear of death). The Great Anguish of Rapture represents an extension of their dour meditations to their most broadly philosophical release so far, following the more straightforwardly depressive early demos and 2017 debut In Via Ad Nusquam (On the Road to Nowhere). It purports to draw on the mysterious horror of the unknown, a horror ripe for exploitation as shared human experience. You’d expect, then, that this would be terrifying, haunting, deeply atmospheric stuff. That’s what I expected anyway. Imagine my shock when what faced me was not a bottomless, alluring chasm, but a shallow pothole of ennui.

Mixing second-wave fuzz with DSBM funereal pacing, Faceless Entity create a hazy soundscape of tangible despondency but minimal intrigue. Distorted, treble-heavy waves of repetitive riffing create an effective wall of monotonous noise across which incomprehensible shrieks resound. Occasional gloomy cleans (title track, “Decaying Banners of Existence,”) melt into this canvas and do not break the cycle. The layer of feedback is so thick, that when blastbeats replace slow march, the music (almost) never feels furious. In this way, Faceless Entity succeed in creating mood music, maintaining an almost unwavering modal thread. But rather than evoking despair, the prevailing tone leads more toward apathy. Not because the music reaches an existential depth that causes me to confront the meaninglessness of my life, but because it’s dull.

You could compare The Great Anguish of Rapture to life itself, if you were feeling droll. It’s mostly uneventful, with occasional moments of note, and plenty of screaming. This is not the way an album obsessed with a classic human fear should imitate life. What strikes most immediately is how mellow it sounds. The chords that wash over one another (title track, “The Enigma of Death,” “A Growing Void”) feel almost placid. Similarly, the emphasis on making things sound as murky as possible washes the potentially interesting rhythms (“The Enigma of Death”) and more sinister atmospheres (“Decaying Banners of Existence”) into near-anodyne flatness. It’s final track “Death, a Rot Beneath the Mask of Existence” that saves the record from being totally colorless. Filled with eerie, dissonant chords, with vocals ranging from eardrum-piercing shriek to demonic howl, it actually inspires dread. This method of disturbing through more unusual measures also appears in the low, creepy moans of “A Growing Void,” and the surprisingly manic midpoint of “Decaying Banners of Existence.” It is, nonetheless, too infrequent, too greatly outweighed by uninflected predictability, to make a meaningful mark.

Faceless Entity‘s monotone style doesn’t only prevent it from having the desired impact, it sometimes detracts from the talented musicianship of its members. R.v.R’s guitar is often muffled when it extends beyond mid-range tremolo, and both theirs and K.v.H’s vocals have a tendency to blur into the background—the main exception being that last track. B.D’s drums fare better, but there are still instances, such as on “The Enigma of Death,” where noisy obfuscation makes it difficult to discern what I think is an intriguing, jerky time signature. The raw style would be forgivable if the music had more pathos. As it is, it only flattens and makes shallow what could be deep.

The Great Anguish of Rapture is not so much a portal to the abyss as a window to the mundane. Regrettably unmemorable for the most part, its rusted edge is too blunt to wound outside noted fleeting moments of pointedness. I’m happy to let it wash over me harmlessly—it doesn’t sound bad. But I don’t believe a work so explicitly centered on terror should leave me so unmoved.

Rating: Disappointing
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 224 kbps mp3
Label: Argento Records
Websites: facelessentity.bandcamp.com | argentorecords.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: April 15th, 2022

« »