Imagine a world where lamb of god had grown up with a far greater fascination for black Sabbath than for Pantera – that is the sound of the mighty, unstoppable force that is Face Down, the French metal act possessed of a rage that is as undiluted as it is palpable. With a solid EP already under their belt, the band now have an album that takes that short disc and improves upon its fine chops in just about every department, the band revelling in a production job that threatens to hammer its way through your walls at even the lowest of levels.
Opening with ‘Lone Ranger’ it is clear from the very first moment that this is an album of confidence and power. The furious, thrash-infused riff is backed up by a towering, chrome-plated production job that grabs you squarely by the unmentionables and propels you with breakneck force into the nearest wall. Yet this is not thrashing for the sake of it, behind the furious picking lie riffs of solid power and crafted with a syrupy groove in mind that makes the song all the heavier. Better still, the nimble, bass-led figure that sees the band strip back on the sonic shock tactics and the memorable vocal melodies mean that the album offers both light and shade dynamic and hooks a plenty, and it’s one that comfortably sits in the memory long after the disc has finished spinning. ‘My last tequila’ is a storming track that tells the tawdry tale of a bandit whose thirst for sordid exploits is both fuelled and exceed seemingly only by his thirst for tequila. Brutal, and laden with the oppressive aura of violence and alcohol, it’s a heavy metal anthem in the making. ‘Horse power’ shows how much more there is to Face down as it opens with some brilliantly arid acoustic guitar work that captures the band’s blues ‘n’ whiskey soul before another mind-crushing riff is ground out with an energy that is exacerbated by the contrast with the desiccated opening, while Byron demonstrates his exquisite skill on the vocals, easily covering both melodic power and out ‘n’ out aggression in style. ‘Smoke coat’ is pure Sabbath grind (with added cowbell) and it sounds awesomely oppressive with its crunchy riffs and uncompromising percussion.
With the unfeasibly heavy production drilling ever deeper into your skull, ‘under the sun’ comes as something of a relief, the rich, warm acoustic work recalling Sepultura’s ‘Kaiowas’ and providing the listener with some much needed respite from the sonic fury found elsewhere. ‘Kiss of death’ sees the riffs return, arguably in an even more unhinged manner than before, the stampeding guitars driving home with all the force of a spike to the cranium. It’s a sonic shock and awe tactic that, despite being somewhat expected, still manages to surprise with the level of venom it displays, whilst Logan continues to mark himself out as a drummer of note. ‘Only Human’ is, if anything, even faster, with a punkish sensibility that veers between hit and run speed and more subtle, doom laden passages, the riffs slowed down to a crawl for extra emphasis and weight. It is a toxic combination that leaves you smothered by the light-eclipsing, oppressive weight of it all and it is somethgin of a relief when the band achieve full momentum once more at the conclusion of the song. ‘No.1 must die’ is almost deathly in its approach, Byron’s vocals becoming increasingly guttural as the band lay down a sonic firewall around him. ‘Blow away the dust’ is both hard and fast enough to do exactly that, the riffs delivered with a frenetic intensity that scales new heights of brutality, recalling French heavyweights Gojira in the process, whilst an unexpectedly melodic chorus guarantees that this will be a searing highlight of the band’s live set. ‘Poker time’ opens on a darkly atmospheric trip before exploding into a furious, full-blown gallop into hell and then the brilliantly titled ‘evil blues’ closes the album with that crushing sense of groove that first drew favourable comparisons between Face Down and Pantera (and a devious sense of humour). It is a thrilling conclusion to an album that offers plenty of adrenalin-soaked moments to fans of even the heaviest metal.
Face Down have clearly revelled in the opportunity to expand onto a full length album and the result is a consistently thrilling beast that offers first class musicianship, brutal song-writing, a twisted sense of humour and an authentically sleazy aura of cheap whiskey and late night card games. The production (courtesy of Guillaume Mauduit) is a revelation – unerringly vicious and yet full of subtle nuances (for example on the stunningly beautiful guitar work of ‘under the sun’) and the drums, in particular, benefit from the sonic depth he has given the album. Overall ‘the long lost future’ is a sweat and spirits soaked trawl through the murky undercurrents of metal referencing the likes of Down, Pantera and Gojira and is well worth investing in if you can track down a copy.