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For the past five years, Australia’s Faceless Burial have been flying the flag of classicist ’90s death metal, first across a demo in 2015 and then the subsequent (and acclaimed) Grotesque Miscreation debut album in 2017, along with the follow-up Multiversal Abattoir 12-inch a year later. Those latter two recordings, in particular, portrayed the potency of this power-trio, displaying an unremittingly dark and dexterous sound which draws in a variety of death metal traditions. Going from strength to strength, the band play their strongest hand yet with the full-length Speciation. Altogether sharper and more finessed than all previous, this release spreads unimaginable death metal might with malignant ease. This band exudes a charm that’s all their own, which largely comes down to the songwriting itself. Preceding records maintained a murky ’n’ malodorous aspect, predominantly in the sound; here it’s been parlayed into tense ’n’ treacherous textures. Otherwise, no great changes have been made, nor should there be: forever twisting and never stagnating, each of these six songs reveals new corridors through which to spelunk, and efficiently so across the album’s deceptively epic 36-minute runtime. Thankfully, once again, Faceless Burial evade the riff-salad tendencies of so much tech-oriented death metal; their sound isn’t so much a restless blast through scattershot ideas as it is an endlessly malforming entity making rude shapes, and now one colored by narrative lead work. Which is to say nothing of the album’s powerful production, rendered in authentically analogue tones, further underlining the band’s reverent devotion to death metal classicism. Adorned with form-meeting-content cover artwork, Speciation is bound to be the year’s most forward-thinking / backwards-looking death metal album.