08 February 2018

LIVE REVIEW: The Faceless – Mama Roux’s (Birmingham) 04/02/2018

Mama Roux’s in Birmingham used to be a burlesque dancing venue, which is rather apt as the place is colder than a polar bears bollock bag tonight and I’m freezing my tits off! But things could be worse. I could be at home, ironing my boxer shorts, with a sense of impending doom that only a Sunday evening can bring (fuck you Monday!). Thankfully, Californian death metal band The Faceless are in town to melt some faces with their mind bending technical riffs and I want a piece of the action. But before they grace the stage, the main support band are here to warm up the punters.



Despite hailing from a region of the UK which gave us the shite acting and singing talents of Jimmy Nail, Sunderland’s Osiah don’t break into a rendition of “Crocodile Shoes” (thank fuck) and instead smash out some seriously heavy deathcore which hits me like a sledgehammer to the ears. The sound engineer has hit the magic “sound fucking awesome” button on the mixing desk which means the triplet kick drum patterns, blast beats, savage guitar riffs and death growls can be heard perfectly. The combination of a guitarist that looks like he’s eaten a farm yard of chickens AND their eggs (he’s a serious unit), a frontman who glares menacingly at the crowd while wearing a necklace of bones (possibly the remains of his recent victims), plus a seizure inducing strobe light show, makes for a visually pleasing set and sets off some movement in the crowd.

But the real reason everyone has made the effort to be here on this cold, miserable February evening is for The Faceless. Like me, they want to see the technical prowess of Michael Keene’s guitar wizardry and the wonderfully unique death metal he’s crafted through a vast knowledge of song writing theory. Only a few hours before, I paid a visit to the bands’ tour bus to interview them for the radio. We talked about their live setup and I was surprised to hear that they run both guitars through amp simulation software on a laptop. They mention having some issues with this during the tour and may have a re-think next time.

Words that unfortunately must have been echoing in their heads during tonight’s set as they’re plagued with technical problems. The set starts well and their unique mix of fast, aggressive riffs, high-speed blast beats, heavy death metal vokills and beautiful guitar solos are a joy to hear. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is music for musicians. The songs are truly composed and for me, nothing short of perfection. Which makes it even more heart wrenching when the pain and frustration in Michael’s face is plainly evident to see as his guitar cuts out intermittently throughout the set – always at the point where he’s about to dive into a face melting solo. Typical! Law of the sod strikes again.


Thankfully, though, the comedic talents of Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams) come in handy to fill the gaps while issues get resolved. Topics like “wanking” and “dogging” are on the agenda, keeping the crowd amused, while the drummer demonstrates his rather impressive robotic voice impressions. Ken also provides my favourite quote of the night “We’re using some gear by a company called MOTU. You’d think with a name like Mark Of The Unicorn, it would work like magic. Not so!”.



Despite the problems, the band display musical abilities that a punk kid like me with zero formal musical training can only dream of and they give songs from the new album “In Becoming A Ghost” a good airing along with a healthy dose of more “classic” tracks. ‘The Ancient Covenant’ gets the best reaction of the night, with the mosh pit erupting, causing a few unfortunate souls to hit the cold, hard floor and eat concrete. Take. The. Pain.

I really hope Michael and the guys manage to avoid any further problems on the rest of the tour as their flawless compositions and playing deserves to be heard uninterrupted. Speaking of interruptions, I can’t avoid it any longer. I need to get home and iron some pants.


Photos: Guy Alexander guyalexandervisuals
Words: Jim Saunders