Australia’s metalcore scene is a burgeoning one, with weathered veterans like Parkway Drive paving the way for new talent like Beyond the Shore and Feed Her to the Sharks. The aggression found in the genre is evident in any of the acts, but there are often equal amounts of melody buried beneath the distorted breakdowns and pounding drums. Faceless pulls no punches, and as the apocalyptic warning siren in “The Breach” transitions into the no-nonsense, heavy-as-hell “Eclipse”, the listener finds themselves acquainted with Buried in Verona’s particular style of melodic metalcore as soon as the album begins. The band’s formula isn’t anything ground-breaking, but it manages to sound fresh and interesting because of the obvious passion that exudes from the album front to back. Brett Anderson’s vocals switch from a ferocious growl to a frenetic spoken word approach that will appeal to many listeners of the genre.
The past few albums have seen a heavier lean on clean vocals for Buried for Verona, and it ends up suiting them quite well. “Catatonic” starts off with heavier instrumentation and Anderson’s furious growls, and then segues into a melodic section that dominates the majority of the song. It’s an interesting formula (and one that is repeated many times over on Faceless) to say the least, given the fact that most modern metalcore bands tend to only use clean vocals in the chorus. Buried in Verona eschew that generic leaning to allow singing to be present in verses, and it essentially adds a personal dynamic that is sorely missing in heavy music today. Minimalist electronic flourishes and chugging breakdowns are also here with disappointing consistency, more often bogging down than progressing the music.
The reality is that while Buried in Verona have taken some little-used effects to alter their songwriting on Faceless, it hasn’t stopped the album from sometimes taking on a “been there, heard that” feel to it. The similarity in the guitar tones throughout the album tends to make the poor songs drag while allowing the shining moments to ascend to even greater heights. “Set Me on Fire” is the surprise of the album, as its reverb-laden guitar and radio rock leanings should bore the listener; instead, it propels the album forward and highlights the the crossover potential that this band has. Conversely, “Splintered” is a perfect example of the fast-paced metalcore that Buried in Verona have perfected, and “Illuminate” gives us the perfect amalgamation of subtle electronics and an arena-worthy chorus.
It’s rather regrettable that some songs don’t match the intensity; “Blind Eyes” employs a rapid-fire vocal delivery that sounds a little too nu-metal for its own good, and closer “The Faceless” lacks any memorability. While there are some inconsistent songs, overall Faceless packs a strong punch and proves that Buried in Verona is willing to experiment with the tried-and-true formula of the genre. That alone is certainly worth rejoicing for, and this album shows that palpable passion still exists in the heavy subgenres.
1. The Breach
6. Set Me On Fire
7. The Damned
12. Blind Eyes
13. The Faceless
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