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Ember's Fall, "The Faceless EP" Album Review

Joey headbanged his way out of the womb and you should all just listen to him when it comes to anything related to metal...

Ember's Fall is an amazing band out of North Pennsylvania. I discovered them by searching "Killswitch Engage" on Bandcamp and clicking on the most interesting-looking cover because I get bored sometimes. Let me assure you, these sons of bitches live up to their cover.

This EP tells the story of Dr. Nias and his growing faceless army. I feel like there's some underlying social commentary I'm missing in this whole thing, but I'm fresh off of All That Remains' last album and couldn't care less.

This looks like it was slapped up in GIMP in two hours...

This looks like it was slapped up in GIMP in two hours...

It Begins

The album opens with a nice keyboard solo accompanied by a monologue from Dr. Nias, who sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon villain down-pitched and reverberated in Audacity. The solo is mirrored on a nicely tuned guitar, which leads into a killer dual guitar riff. It leads off into a Pertucci-esque solo, and the vocals kick in. The screaming is decent. Incoherent, but decent. It's layered during certain lyrics for emphasis, which is great.

I'll stop to say that this is one of the best songs from a random underground band I've heard. This band immediately shot up into my top 10 list after this song alone.

Continuing, the chorus has a very nice melody, and the singing is of course layered with screaming, which I personally have a soft spot for. The track breaks with a monologue from Dr. Nias and a dual guitar solo.

Overall, I love this track. It's an amazing album opener and honestly is strong enough to carry this entire EP's role as a preview of things to come.

Brick by Brick

If the first track was an excellent standalone movie, the second is its roaring sequel.

This track kicks right off, with an amazing riff accompanied by some pleasant drumming. The vocalist does an intro growl, the kind Tim Lambesis and Howard Jones always do, and there's a short but sweet solo.The breakdown is long and has marching playing under it. There's a brief instrumental and the song winds down into a violin solo and the sound of thunder.

The highlight of this track is the pre-chorus. The guitar keeps up an excellent melody, and there's some clean singing followed by some screaming. All throughout, the drummer is slapping the shit out of his skins. It's so rhythmic I'd go so far as to say that this track's chorus is a post-chorus.

Another thing I love about this track is the lyrics. The protagonists are describing the crushing of resistance and the building up of their Faceless army. Admittedly it sounds like some kind of violent ode to religious indoctrination if you don't know the background of the album, but maybe that's the deeper meaning I was missing from before.

At this point, I can't enjoy this EP more.

No Escape

This track, like the second, does not hesitate to get really brutal, really quick. It opens with a melancholic singing of the chorus, and is split open by some throaty screams and the drummer and guitarist doing their things. There's a short guitar solo preceding the second chorus. At this point, I realize that the guitarist is the king of spontaneous 10-second solos.

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Afterwards, the song breaks down into the singer and backed by a keyboard. The track builds back up into a massive solo with the vocalist wailing and screaming over it all. A choir joins in and the song begins to fade out.

The highlight of this track, unlike the second, is its chorus. It's incredibly catchy, and the vocalist is singing and screaming his heart out. The verses are probably the hardest on the album with the guitars chugging endlessly throughout them, and the drums pounding like fuck.

One major complaint. I have no damn clue what the vocalist says during the chorus.

Dr. Nias

If you've been listening along, and are fluent in death growl, then you know that this album is sung from the perspective of Dr. Nias and his followers as they assimilate the globe. Or a Wal-Mart parking lot on Black Friday. They don't really say...

Not an emotive fellow, that Dr. Nias...

Not an emotive fellow, that Dr. Nias...

The songs do, however, personify Dr. Nias as menacing and violent. Which makes me wonder why they didn't just use the lead singer, who looks like Kingpin with a beard. A red beard I might add, which means he also has no soul. That's way more terrifying than Blue Boy, up there.

The vocalist is seen here stealing the soul of a child who called him "Baldy."

The vocalist is seen here stealing the soul of a child who called him "Baldy."

Dr. Nias Origins

We get to learn more about Big Bubba Nias in the fourth and last track "Dr. Nias Origins." It's a spoken word track with some sound effects, and a piano track to go along with the story. I'm not going to spoil it.

The title of this track is interesting, to say the least. It looks like it's missing some punctuation and reminds me of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Which isn't bad. But it definitely isn't good either.

Listening closer, it seems like this track was recorded as the album's intro, which could be why my music player stubbornly plays it first. I don't know, but it enhances the album by not ending it in a tedious story and subtracts from the 'What the hell are they on about?' factor in the other songs, so I'd recommend listening to it first.

Final Verdict

The lyrics on this EP are consistent and hella well-written. The production is the best you'll hear on Bandcamp for pages and pages. Jokes aside, I tip my hat off to the producer and mixing engineer of this album, because they did an amazing job. Every instrument, even the unconventional ones, get their chance to shine in the mix, and there are only one or two vocal oddities.

The album art could be better, but it's definitely eyecatching. My biggest complaint with this EP is that it's more of an LP and I wish it was longer. If you're a fan of old school Killswitch Engage, or As I Lay Dying, I'd recommend picking up this EP and giving it a listen. Hell, even if you aren't a fan, pick it up and give it a try. It's only four tracks long.

I give this EP 8/10 Guitar Picks.

© 2018 Joey Smith

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