Music / The Faceless

The Faceless is a California progressive death metal band. Characterized by their eclectic sound, tendency to change their approach with each album, and near-constant turnover, they exploded out of the gate and quickly became one of the biggest names in tech, and while band turmoil may be an issue, it hasn't done much of anything to sink them.

Formed in Encino, California in 2004 by Michael Keene (guitars, clean vocals) and Brandon Giffin (bass), the band quickly welcomed in Brett Batdorf on drums, though the vocalist situation was a little more volatile. Various shows occurred in spite of this, and in 2005, the band began work on an EP and released a live demo to tide people over until then. By this time, the lineup had grown to include Derek Rydquist (vocals), Steve Jones (guitar), and Michael Sherer (keyboards), though Batdorf left immediately after recording his drum tracks. The band had since decided to turn the EP into a full album, and so they drafted various drummers to do session work on the remaining tracks. It worked, and Akeldama was released in November of 2006 on Sumerian Records to quite a bit of acclaim. Sherer departed sometime after, though 2007 finally brought with it a stable drummer in the form of Lyle Cooper. A fair amount of touring followed, and the band was finally getting their feet under them. They began work on a second full-length after this, and Planetary Duality the result, coming out almost exactly two years after Akeldama. This proved to be their breakthrough, as they had shed the deathcore trappings of their first album in favor of a fairly unique spin on technical death metal. Lots and lots and lots of touring followed, and things stayed quite stable until Giffin left in 2010, with Jared Lander quickly jumping in to take his place. That year also brought a spot on the Summer Slaughter Tour along with various other tours, but the prospect of a new album was beginning to loom. Come 2011, and Rydquist had quit, with Geoff Ficco of Kamikabe taking his place. A pre-production version of "The Eidolon Reality", a new track, quickly showed up on YouTube; additionally, Lander left sometime around then as well, with bass extraordinaire Evan Brewer filling the spot.

As one could guess, more touring occurred, and another lineup change occurred in 2012 when Jones departed and Wes Hauch took his place. The new album was still slowly creeping along, and come August of that year, it had finally dropped. The reaction to Autotheism was mixed. Some praised it for expanding on the progressive elements of Planetary Duality, while others decried it as pretentious, derivative nonsense that ripped off a ton of bands rather than doing anything new. It still sold very well, however, debuting at #50 on the Billboard 200 and resulting in a whole lot more touring. 2013 brought nothing out of the ordinary with it, which is to say more touring and a lineup change. Cooper was the one who left this time, though the fans weren't too upset about the introduction of young hotshot Alex Rudinger in his place. The rest of the year was uneventful, and 2014 proved to be more of the same with the exception of Hauch departing to join a reforming Glass Casket until late October, when Brewer and Rudinger abruptly quit for reasons not entirely known, and the trend continued with Ficco's departure in December 2014. Keene has yet to make a statement on the band's future.

As of February 2015, Justin McKinney of The Zenith Passage has been announced as a new guitarist. Replacements for Ficco, Brewer, and Rudinger have still not been announced, though an Instagram photo posted by McKinney confirmed that Julian Kersey (Aegaeon) and Chason Westmoreland are on the roster. Due to Westmoreland's other commitments, it's unknown if this is the final lineup or just a temporary one. More lineup changes occurred over the course of 2015; Rydquist and Giffin were both supposed to return on at least a studio basis only for it to fall through, Justin McKinney (The Zenith Passage) joined on a full-time basis as a second guitarist, and Westmoreland quietly joined on a full-time basis between the end of the year and the beginning of 2016. As of mid-2016, Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams) has been doing live vocals, and according to people who have talked to Keene and/or McKinney about it, he is most likely full-time as well. A full-time bassist has apparently been found as well, and they are apparently putting on the finishing touches on a new album for a release around the very end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.


  • Nightmare Fest (2006) - live demo
  • Akeldama (2006)
  • Planetary Duality (2008)
  • Autotheism (2012)
  • The Spiraling Void (2015) - single

The band contains examples of the following tropes:
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Chason Westmoreland is known for his incredibly aggressive, hard-hitting, and improvisation-heavy playing style. Downplayed in that he hasn't really shown too much of this in The Faceless aside from his immense power.
  • Ascended Extra: Chason Westmoreland and (probably) Ken Sorceron.
  • Berserk Button: Keene gets extremely angry if people insult his veganism. He has even apparently violently attacked people who have been particularly rude or obnoxious about it at various points.
  • Concept Album: Planetary Duality (about The Reptilians) and Autotheism (about the process of self-realization).
  • Creative Differences: Why Cooper, Rudinger, and Westmoreland left. Cooper was having problems with Keene, while Rudinger just wasn't accustomed to being in a band situation where one person wrote everything and called all the shots. Westmoreland, meanwhile, left with an unbelievable amount of drama and a lot of he-said, she-said (the band's side was that he initially gave them three weeks' notice, rescinded it at the last minute and said that he was going to do the Summer Slaughter 2017, and then went back on his word a day later and literally right before the tour; Chason's side, meanwhile, was that it was short notice, but he made every effort to help them find a drummer, and he left in the first place because his patience with Michael Keene had been completely exhausted).
  • Deathcore: Akeldama. They later shed it with Planetary Duality.
  • Development Hell: Apparently averted with Autotheism; its conception wasn't particularly difficult or arduous, just long. The heavy touring probably caused most of the delay. The fourth album seems like a more legitimate case, as a complete lineup shift and an inability to maintain a new one (McKinney being the only explicit full-timer; Kersey was a live session member, Westmoreland and Sorceron wound up becoming Ascended Extras, and Rydquist and Giffin were supposed to at least join for the recording but could not make it work) has led to a development cycle that has exceeded even Autotheism in sheer length.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The Faceless' recurring lineup issues, habitual tour and fest cancellations, and protracted development process for their fourth full-length can all be chalked up to Keene's longstanding drug problems and seeming inability to get his shit together.
  • Epic Rocking: "Emancipate" takes the cake at 7:20, though "Deconsecrate" and "In Solitude" aren't far behind at 6:39 and 6:27, respectively.
  • I Am the Band: Michael Keene.
  • Lead Bassist: Giffin and Brewer are both Type A examples, with Brewer doubling as a Type C due to his well-known instrumental solo career.
  • Loudness War: A HUGE problem throughout their career, particularly on Planetary Duality, which had a notoriously poor production in regard to the drums.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Soft 10/very hard 9 on their first two albums, hard-ish 9 on Autotheism.
  • New Sound Album: Several:
    • Planetary Duality shed the deathcore elements of Akeldama and increased the technicality to compensate, in addition to toning down the keyboards.
    • Autotheism toned down the technicality and played up the progressive rock influences, in addition to giving the clean vocals far greater prominence.
  • Old Shame: Akeldama doesn't seem to be held in very high regard by Keene. "An Autopsy" is still a live staple, but other than that, they have turned their back on the album and don't seem to be too intent on changing that.
  • One of Us: Rudy is an avid gamer; as a matter of fact, he took over Conquering Dystopia's Facebook page in the middle of a tour to ask for 3DS game recommendations, stating that all he had was Pokemon X and that he would be willing to guestlist anyone willing to bring him a new game.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Alex Rudinger is not a very big guy. He's also one of the most celebrated up-and-coming drummers in metal.
  • Prima Donna Director: Between the band's high turnover, his known perfectionist tendencies, and statements from former members, Keene definitely seems to be one of these.
  • Progressive Metal: Autotheism
  • Promoted Fanboy: Rudinger and McKinney.
  • Religion Rant Album: Autotheism is this at its core.
  • Revolving Door Band: Blink, and there will probably have been some sort of lineup shift in that time. The Planetary Duality era was the only time when they didn't have a huge problem with this.
  • Sexophone: On "Deconsecrate" thanks to Sergio Flores, aka the "Sexy Sax Man".
  • Soprano and Gravel: Employs a dual-vocal setup, with Ficco (and Rydquist before him) handling harsh vocals and Keene handling cleans.
  • Start My Own: Rudy started the instrumental metal project Conquering Dystopia with Jeff Loomis, Keith Merrow, and Alex Webster, while Brewer started Entheos with Navene Koperweis, Frank Costa (both ex-Animosity), and Chaney Crabb.
    • Subverted with Cooper's bands Absvrdist and Abhorrent, as they were both around while he was in The Faceless. He just didn't have the time to do anything with them.
  • Technical Death Metal: Akeldama (coupled with deathcore) and Planetary Duality (a straightforward example).
  • Walking the Earth: How Ken lives. The man spends the vast majority of his time on the road as either a musician or a tour assistant (be it sound, merch, or just hauling shit and driving), and the weeks between tours are usually spent doing mixing and mastering work for extra cash unless one of his bands is writing and/or recording a new album. It also means that you either can work with him or you can't, as he has the personality that you would expect a road warrior type to have and not everyone can gel with that.