It’s been no secret that the atmosphere surrounding California techdeath band The Faceless has been nothing shy of chaotic the last couple years. And for a while, it looked as if frequent, complete lineup changes brought on by hard drug abuse was going to be the nail in the coffin for Michael Keene and his project. However, like the itch that doesn’t go away even after you scratch it, he persisted. Though he has gone through at least two full lineup changes within the last two years, Keene has still managed to recruit a a full live band for a month long tour, accompanied by Lorna Shore and Dyscarnate.
Along with hard drug use, Keene has a couple other (undisclosed) health issues that he’s been battling for some time. The culmination of those, along with severe withdrawl landed him in the hospital not too long ago. But since then he has allegedly kicked the heroin, and is slowly but surely on his way to becoming a better, cleaner Keene.
But don’t get me wrong here; I love that someone so pinnacle to shaping my musical tastes when I was younger is finally getting his shit together, but I am still very disappointed that he’s squandered relationships with a laundry list of incredible musicians. And I hope he recognizes how fortunate he is that there are still awesome musicians that are willing to work with him (and even go on playing without him).
I’ve seen quite a few videos of Keene’s recent live performances where he’s strung out, fighting nodding off, and butchering music that he’s been playing for the better part of a decade. But that’s not what I witnessed last night in Rochester. On the contrary, his playing was clean and on point; he nailed his solos, even on some of the more technical tracks off of 2008’s Planetary Duality. The band played a few songs off of Planetary, a few from Autothiesm, including “Autothiest Movement” I-III, and a couple from their newest release, In Becoming a Ghost. Whereas his health might not be up to 100%, his skill level and playing ability have definitely remained intact.
I think the guys he’s currently sharing the stage with nightly are out of their minds for joining a band with someone who’s amassed such a terrible reputation over the last few years, but I have a great deal of respect for them for sticking with the project regardless of all of the bad press and potential backlash. Here’s hoping there are no further lineup changes, at least until 2018 makes its exit.
The future of The Faceless is still pretty uncertain, but Keene has proven that he clearly isn’t going to let anything stop him from his music career; not lineup changes, not bad press, and not even himself. And though The Faceless may currently be just a fragment of what it once was, there is still hope for their remaining fans that they are on their way to regaining the status they once held.