(In this post, TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by those Bay Area upstarts in Fallujah.)
So wait a minute… I get my blazing technicality, world destroying ruthless brutality, AND epic melodies in the same package? (more after the jump . . .)
I knew Fallujah’s debut The Harvest Wombs was going to be good, but this good? No way.
So this album, like Vektor’s Outer Isolation, which will be reviewed in a couple days, deserves a long-ass genre tag: Fallujah is extreme blackened progressive melodeath. Mouthful you say? True, but my description is the only one that I think accurately sums up the music. Fellow NCS writer BadWolf’s response to my description was: “Kinda like The Faceless”. Well… yeah, sort of, except I think The Faceless are horrifically boring, whereas Fallujah are definitely taking death metal to a new level.
Death metal, especially the more extreme and overtly technical forms, has split into two very distinct camps. One focuses on the atonal and chaotic as much as ever (e.g., Brain Drill, Aeon, Origin) and one focuses on a more melodic, proggy, jazz-toned sound (e.g., Obscura, Anata, Necrophagist). Fallujah definitely belong in the latter camp, looking to make a name for themselves while going up against some of the current modern titans of death metal as we speak.
Fallujah’s sound is ultimately the sound of being submerged by a tidal wave that freezes your flesh and then breaks it apart, ripping you into ice-encased, frozen chunks of dead man-meat. I think my description there is pretty spot-on, because while Fallujah pump out emotionally charged, somber melodies, there is an icy cold aesthetic to the music. Their music, like that of many bands lately, is very sci-fi- and space-themed. While we have intense-as-fuck, blast-beat overflowing attacks, the music nevertheless conveys the frigid, empty feeling of being lost in space, floating in a space suit without oxygen, just waiting to die. Another appropriate description of Fallujah’s music is the sound of an alien invasion — the sound of noodily riffs, cacophonous blast-beat avalanches, and ethereal, other-worldly jazz infusions.
This album is reminiscent of Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Agony (which, you may remember, garnered an unheard-of triple NCS review, it was so fucking good) in that the speed is unrelenting. Fallujah obviously don’t believe in groove, or slowing it down, except for the massive, black-hole-opening breakdown that ends “Prison Of The Mind”. For the most part, the album is full of riffs so blindingly fast and technical it’s like being fired at by a shotgun that shoots nothing but throwing knifes. Even if you could dodge direct hits, you’d still die from blood loss from being grazed all over your body.
Tracks such as opener “Alpha Incident” or the live staple “Cerebral Hybridization” bring epic, grandiose melodies to bear, with some of the most vicious deliveries I’ve heard in a while. Other moments provide smart, tasty contrasts, such as the more contemplative instrumental “The Flame Surreal” or the mournful title track, with its doomy atmosphere. Still other moments deliver unadulterated doses of awesome, such as the syncopated outro of “Cerebral Hybridization” or the entire mid-section of “Become One”, with its next-dimension melodic transitions and progressions.
The production on The Harvest Wombs is bombastic and absolutely huge, turning the music into an experience even more overwhelming than it otherwise would be. It is a bit mechanical sounding, I’ll admit, which to some may be a turn-off, but I think this album needs it. The performances are absolutely top-notch. In fact, it’s my opinion that especially guitarists Scott Carstairs and Rob Maramonte are the breakout guitar duo of the year. Their interplay and lead work is just all kinds of superb.
The Harvest Wombs is definitely an essential of 2011. Eat that shit up pronto.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Harvest Wombs was released on November 22 by Unique Leader Records. To learn more about the band and follow their doings, check ’em out on Facebook here. The band will also be touring this winter with Aegaeon. Here’s the schedule, and then after that, we’ll have more songs from the album: