On first blush, you might not find a lot in common between the frenzy of a show featuring the technical death metal of THE FACELESS and the quiet ambiance of a fusion jazz club but the two are far more similar than they might seem.
On the latest episode of the "White Noise Metal" video podcast, THE FACELESS' lead guitarist Michael Keene tells "That BS Dude Brian Shields" he draws a lot of his inspiration from the jazz he grew up listening to.
"I've borrowed from a lot of guitarists that I admire but maybe I package it in a way that's unrecognizable," Keene says. "My favorite guitarist is Allan Holdsworth. I didn't grow up listening to too many metal guitarists. I grew up in a house where both my parents were musicians. My dad was a fusion guitar player so I grew up around all that kind of stuff."
The Encino, California band is developing a growing reputation among technical death metal acts through their first two releases, 2006's "Akeldama" and 2008's "Planetary Duality". Keene says the song "An Autopsy" off the first CD helped the band define their sound. "I think that was the first song that we ever wrote that defined a pretty distinct direction for our band," Keene tells Shields. "I think the three or four songs prior to that that we had written, we were still trying to figure out what we were doing and who we were as a band. Actually, a couple of those songs are on the first album and you can kind of tell because they don't sound like the rest of it. I think from there on out is where we developed a more focused sound. It's to this day still a crowd favorite. When the first CD came out, that was the big popular song."
On "Planetary Duality", THE FACELESS fuses the lyrical power with Keene's stylistic guitar playing, as evidenced in the song "XenoChrist". "That one just came together really well," the guitarist says. "It's got a lot of different moods and vibes and ups and downs. It's one of the more technical songs. One of the more ripping songs. That song took shape in a way where it had a very distinct characteristic. The lyrical content played off of it really well. It's probably my favorite song on the CD."
"Planetary Duality" has not one but two title tracks. Keene says the first song was originally just supposed to be an intro riff. "It was later decided to divide them up," Keene notes. "I think with the lyrical content and the theme of the two tracks, we made a concious decision to let them play off the two vibes of the song. The second half of the track is very choatic and frantic and has this panicky overwhelming feeling to it. The lyrics are kind of explosive. 'When everything comes to a head and infinite dimensions cross paths to recreate reality.'"
Keene lists "Noctambulant" by SPAWN OF POSSESSION as an influence on the song "Ancient Covenant".
In "White Noise Metal"'s famous segment "Shit We Like," Keene lists some of the other music you'll find him playing as THE FACELESS launches its "Planetary Depravity" co-headlining tour. "As far as new stuff, we're all big on the new OBSCURA album," Keene says. "That's been in frequent rotation. The new PSYCROPTIC album is really good too. We listen to a little bit of everything. We don't just listen to metal exclusively by any means. You'll find us listening to a lot of prog stuff, a lot of fusion and rock and a little bit of everything."
"White Noise Metal" focuses on the music produced by some of metal's biggest names.
The podcast is available for download or viewing on iTunes, MySpace Music, and at www.whitenoisemetal.com.