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The Faceless’ In Becoming a Ghost Fails to Crack the Billboard 200

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Update, 5:30pm EST, December 15th: A representative from The Faceless has contacted MetalSucks to inform us that In Becoming a Ghost landed at #66 on the “Top Current Album” charts, which used to be called the Top 200 chart. The Top 200 Chart is now calculated differently because of streaming.

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The Faceless may be learning about the limits of fandom the hard way.

Earlier this month, the Michael Keene-led project released their fourth album, In Becoming a Ghost, which Lambgoat reports “sold roughly 3,900 copies in its first week of release in the United States.” That number is ostensibly fine — plenty of metal bands would kill to sell 3,900 copies of their album in a week, and it landed Ghost the number sixteen debut spot on the Hard Rock Albums chart and a No. 8 debut spot on the Independent Albums chart.

But the number of units sold becomes less ostensibly fine when compared to the first-week sales of the band’s last two albums, Autotheism (2012) and Planetary Duality (2008). Those releases respectively sold 7,570 and 5,500 copies during that same sales period, landing them (again, respectively) at numbers 50 and 119 on the Billboard 200. And while it’s tempting to go, “Hey, that’s just the industry these days,” we have to remember that that’s not really just the industry these days: this is, after all, the same year in which The Faceless’ fellow Summer Slaughter alum, The Black Dahlia Murder, saw a 20% sales increase over their last album.

So what happened with Ghost?

It’s hard not to see the weaker sales as a reflection of Keene and company’s lack of productivity. The band has taken four-five years in-between their last few albums, which is fine if you’re Metallica… but it’s much harder to keep the fans’ attention when you’re an underground tech-death band. Additionally, the group made headlines this year just as often for their behind-the-scenes drama — most notably a series of tour cancellations and missed shows — as they did for their new music. And the shows they did play were apparently underwhelming: MetalSucks’ own Phil Boozeman reports that at a recent headline gig, the band only played seven songs. Given that The Faceless only have three songs which run longer than six minutes, that’s less than an hour of stage time.

2018 should tell us a lot about the future of The Faceless. In Becoming a Ghost has been well-received by the fans who did purchase it; if the band tours their asses off, and actually show up for gigs and put on killer performances, they be able to win back some of the fans they’ve alienated. If not, well… this could be the beginning of a generally-downward trend.

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