On its debut full-length, San Diego's Warface serves up no-frills, old-school death metal. Suffocation comes to mind in the death growls, blastbeats alternating with chugging half-speed riffs, technical runs, and breaks where the band cuts away to a single machine-gun riff. The songs are efficient, mostly ranging from three to four minutes in length, with a few concise but fluent leads. The sound isn't anything new, but the execution is perfect, and the songwriting is admirably mature.
Production is the only thing holding this album back. Technically, it's good; the mix is clean, with much separation between instruments. However, it's not a good metal mix. The drums are too loud, though that has the benefit of showcasing an incredible performance by former drummer Scott Ellis. Every note he plays is audible in amazing clarity. The guitars are overly "scooped," which makes room for the vocals, but lacks midrange bite. Overall, the production lacks the heaviness so crucial for this style of metal.
Guitarist Laura Christine happens to be female. Normally, I don't like to play the gender card, but shredder-caliber female guitarists are so rare in metal (the only other names that spring to mind are The Great Kat and Jennifer Batten) that Christine deserves mention. Her leads mix the fluid exoticism of Erik Rutan or Trey Azagthoth with the atonal whammy bar manipulation of Jeff Hanneman. With Tyson Jupin (of Vile fame), who placed third in the feet portion of the 2007 World's Fastest Drummer contest, now behind the kit, Warface looks to be a force in death metal for some time to come.