FACELESS BURIAL – At the Foothills of Deliration (2022)REVIEW

The burst of the pod, the shriek of the alarm and the eager clattering of pincers that followed. Picking through the entrails of the reborn, an inhumane transformation and a quick death for the guts-bearer repeatedly divined for seedlings of clairvoyance beyond. They are sutured and reformed, resurrected and excised in a carnal genetic stew for centuries on end yet the fate of the seer through ceremonial clipping and picking away at clonal offal becomes its own heinous mad-consciousness no longer requiring sight, hygiene, or conscience beyond careful butchery. Future-tellers become criminally insane sect as the hunger for dissection becomes a painterly obsession with the way the instrument “combats” the sacred flesh, all of it divine and glowing inspiration in the transcendental breach of their minds. Running with images of fleshy horror, transformation of the spiritual body, augury and actualization through hopeful penitence should only suggest that Melbourne, Australia-based death metal trio Faceless Burial have stricken skull and the gelatin within with mightiest muse on this third and thriving full-length album. ‘At the Foothills of Deliration‘ will ultimately be received by the worthiest as their already well-individuated nuke of barbaric brutality stamping upon the realm of progressive death metal with great care, leaving a mark of skillfully mayhemic beauteousness amongst the mush of flesh left behind.

Since I’d gone into such detail in review of ‘Speciation‘ back in 2020 most of where they’ve been and why you should be hyped for a new Faceless Burial record can be found in that review and still applies, including a quick ride through their discography. The short version is that I’d found these guys authentic in their exploration of classic death metal stratagem and fineries from the start, they had riffs flying from all holes at a high standard and clearly-set sharp taste in the proper spectrum of death metal out the gates. Key points of interest in gearing up for what they’re all about include prime early-to-mid 90’s still thrashing Suffocation-esque battery, a steady grip upon the ‘The Erosion of Sanity‘ goalpost for the riff and its technical lean, as well as some of the classicist groove mode found on par with nowadays acts like Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation. That second album felt like they’d entered into a higher state of actualization, an elastic sort of pummeling trip which’d only begun to show what they were capable of. It’ll be the milestone to build from as we talk up ‘At the Foothills of Deliration‘, which I see as their walkabout — a step towards introspection in wide open spaces, wandering into experience which has enriched and expanded their previously taut and distempered saw-tooth rhythmic exaggerations.

Aiming right for the guts. — Now encroaching fully upon their interest in progressive death metal’s surrealistic nodes and nodules beyond the clearer hints found on ‘Speciation‘, Faceless Burial are leading their own way forward with a more prominent and anchored, slide-readied bass guitar performance from Alex Macfarlane on this album. The rhythm section performances had generally reached a point of impressive virtuosity on the previous record, sounding intensely practiced and preened over down to the last note of every groove, and in this case they’ve slung their even moreso heightened proficiencies around with an equally masterful way about ’em, new techniques and tics which colorize ‘At the Foothills of Deliration‘ into greater depth. Featuring the bass guitar in parity with the rhythm guitar’s placement at shoulder height enables Macfarlane‘s skillful work to bleed around the recording space for a satisfyingly full presence and impactful bursts of chorded shapes throughout (see: “Dehiscent” et al.). We don’t get a full-on springing fretless wobble from the recording but certainly a key point of expressivity which is lent to not only the rhythm section but amplified by the tweaks made to the core design of the album’s machinery, which is weighted towards a dynamic of equal parts brutality and finesse, not too far from the mean-as-fuck pre-‘Souls to Deny‘ intermingle of Suffocation but rethinking the impact of the Burns/Morrisound dynamic without being deleterious; I’d likewise originally felt there were some shades of Monstrosity‘s ‘Millennium‘ in their work, or, a certain standard of both technical and brutal faculties existing in harmony is the right call (see: opener “Equipoise Recast”) but, the sound design has its own specificity which is not rooted in cold and compressed 90’s faculties so much as it retains a certain intended ‘old school’ analog organische character which suits the band incredibly well while pushing forth a decade or two beyond any such idolization.

Faceless Burial still have riffs. In fact it’d taken me one listen to know I’d loved this record at first ear-waggle but at least fifteen to truly appreciate the amount of detail they’ve packed into each of these songs. It ain’t exactly made secret in subtle waves, either, as the aforementioned “Equipoise Recast” asserts itself with a hammer and more riffs than I can count on one hand in a matter of minutes, and perhaps the keener rhythm obsessed ear could pick out the numerous techniques Füj-mon has applied to his craft but I’ll say that at the very least we hear an ear for both modern and ancient metal applied to his inspired attack on this song. The mind-melter in the song for my own taste to start was ~2:05 minutes in, the sort of later Anata-esque whip out of a heavy metal riff into brutality, a 45 second detour that immediately showcases how raring to go these guys are within these six new songs. On the other hand they’ve not set aside the successes of ‘Speciation‘ on this record, still working in their own elaborate form of moshable groove into the riffcraft, this time taking more elaborate tangents away from the pit-worthy mashing of “A Mire of Penitence” in creation of a sort of slam ‘n float effect, again making room for the bass to lead as a second rhythm guitar would in voicing the mid-to-late section of the song and resembling the more masterful spectrum of progressive (but not pretentious) death metal in these 6-7 minute pieces which always guaranteed will go somewhere that entertains, brutalizes and delights in doing so. Side A ends with the aforementioned “Dehiscent”, emphasizing the full prog-death intent of this album this midpoint and showcasing the full feature of the fine bass guitar work therein.

“From the Bastion to the Pit” isn’t the first Faceless Burial song to hint at their love for the broad strokes and elaborate swings between sub-genre portals founded within StarGazer but it is the most potent and complete ode to such a dynamism to date on their part. It’d been an eye-widening moment per my own unabashed fandom of each group upon discovery and an unmissable point of interest that’d sort of shocked my ass out of the tunnel vision the record had created up ’til then. It wasn’t that this was wildly out of character so much as unexpectedly refreshing, a full hilt stab at this very sophisticated sort of rhythmic development which presents both minutiae and greater motion in a singular moment of masterful modulation. I’d already been a fan of this band since their debut landed out of nowhere back in 2017 but here, this point on the record feels like the right time to muse over their becoming out-of-control great, it is kind of nuts how they’ve absorbed and extruded such inspiration at such a rabid clip. I believe they’d understood what a big song that’d been and to follow it up with another right away would’ve overwhelmed so, taking a tip from progressive metal/rock running order structure to some degree, they’ve inserted an ethereal sluice to another mind palace before the grand finale. In fact, since I am not one to stare at a tracklist so much as sit psychically engaged in my cerebro, I’d thought “Haruspex At The Foothills of Deliration” was the intro to closer “Redivivus Through Vaticination” until I’d found it to be a separate instrumental piece. The final piece on the record should be witnessed rather than explained in detail, a codification and integration of all that the album explores in grand finale.

Of course whenever I’m name-dropping a number of my favorite groups in a certain sphere of quality and rambling-on incessantly it is a good sign I am considering their work among the best I’ve heard. As much is true after a couple weeks spent listening to ‘At the Foothills of Deliration‘ an absurd number of times, basking in its hardened crags and bloodied flow with some great admiration for the well-representative Dan Seagrave piece that adorns its stare-worthy cover. Granted I’ve got everything Faceless Burial‘ve released to date on my shelf, so as an existing fan the real statement here is that these folks have pushed their already idyllic sound into a new and somehow even more redeeming headspace, surprising the shit outta me despite having eyeballed and ear-sorbed their gig since day one. A highest possible recommendation is warranted.

Highest possible recommendation. (100/100)

Rating: 10 out of 10.
TITLE:At the Foothills of Deliration
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records,
Me Saco Un Ojo
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

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