Having been around since the mid 90’s and releasing six albums under several different labels, Divided Multitude is a staple of Norwegian prog metal. The seventh full length Faceless Aggressor introduces a few key changes that are to prove worthwhile and fundamentally beneficent to the sound. Long time singer slash guitarist Sindre Antonsen has stepped down from the former role - although still appearing on a few tracks - to focus on the latter. New power comes in the form of Jan Thore Grefstad (Highland Glory, Saint Daemon). Things were quiet around the vocalist for a good while after the last Saint Daemon album, but just recently he fronted the Swedish outfit’s comeback, as well as lending his talents to this release, hitting shelves only a week later. And what a difference he makes; his dynamic approach and style are highly reminiscent of Terje Harøy (Pyramaze), with a soaring edge to fit the crunchy progressive pieces on offer.
At times the album delves into progpower territories, with catchy choruses and melodic guitars to back up the crunchy rhythm section to further the likeness to the Pyramazian. Other times the full on groove hearkens more to the darker, heavy stuff of Nevermore. Especially the first few tracks are phenomenal and unbeatable, from the fleshy title track with its orchestral intro complete with Christer Harøy’s melodic soloing sprinkled on top, to the heavy tour de force that is the band’s namesake with its massive drums, crushing riffing and all around weighty atmosphere to deliver one of the heaviest songs on the album. Granted, there are a couple of tracks toward the latter half of the album that do not quite measure up to the quality of the rest; Prosperity Divine (The Machine of Mammon) is heavy as hell, dealing serious melodic vibes and flashy guitars (duh) aside from one of the most catchy choruses on the album. After that though, the album doesn't keep momentum, and it takes until ten minute closer Psalm of a Soldier to really set things in motion again.
Grefstad makes the album no one thought was possible after the latest Saint Daemon outing, which left much to be desired, but Faceless Aggressor doesn't rely entirely on him. The backbone in Anders Vinje's massive drum lines are potent and heavy, while the guitar work care of Rayner Harøy and Antonsen deal heavy damage in both the massive riff department and the melodic punch, woven into the dirtier style the album delves into in comparison with its predecessor(s). Coming four years after the band’s self titled Divided Multitude (2015), Faceless Aggressor is a show of power, both in style and weight, and musicianship, and also in the writing of songs that will carry the torch of the demanding groove based prog work of Nevermore while still comfortably keeping it more melodic, holding the power metal elements at arm’s reach. Faceless Aggressor is a more than worthy addition to the discography, proving that lineup changes so far into the game might just be the best thing to spark greatness.
Standout tracks: Faceless Aggressor, Counterparts, Prosperity Divine (The Machine of Mammon)