(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Fallujah.)
One of the things that consistently surprises me about music, in general, is how much some artists can change in their evolution yet still remain fundamentally the same. Fallujah released a pretty killer debut with The Harvest Wombs, a blitzkrieg of melodic technical death metal madness with a seasoning of Allan Holdsworth fusion thrown on top of it; the sound was the essence of ethereal yet feral. It was their way of achieving a sort of space-death sound, and it worked.
Of course, the other elements in the music helped, too. Fallujah pulls from a strange bag of tricks and smashes them together. The combination of death metal with a lot of post-y elements, including some borrowed from that end of the Black Metal spectrum, has cemented a sound I would argue is recognizably Fallujah, signature in nature.
The Flesh Prevails is a logical step forward, an attempt to bridge the technical showmanship of The Harvest Wombs with the spaced-out fusion atmosphere of the Nomadic EP. The end result is death metal that is equal parts brutal and Zen. Depending on your mood, you could windmill to this until you get whiplash, or sit around stoically contemplating the meaning of your life. It’s an odd paradox of sound that’s hypnotic.
The album has a lot of the same foundational elements of the Fallujah sound exhibited on The Harvest Wombs, but the greater focus on ambience, melody, and big, lush soundscapes shows that the band is targeting a different sonic objective this time. I’d almost call this a sort of slow-burner tech-death. You feel like you’re being gradually swallowed and digested, even during the explosions of blast-beat-saturated riff-a-thons.
Despite the fact that some moments on this album, such as “Carved in Stone”, are completely fucking manic and fly at the speed of light, the instinct isn’t to get up, air guitar, and windmill; it’s more like being knocked flat on your ass and stuck in a mental ecstasy high. You space out and let the sound overtake you, and it’s an odd feeling. I admittedly found the album a curiosity, but the first day I got access to the promo I listened through it twelve times. It was daytime when I started listening; the last time was at, like, fucking three in the morning.
Of course the technicality is there. Some of the riffs (the first single “Sapphire” comes to mind) are absolutely mind-blowing, woven-note tapestries that are suffocating in their depth. What’s insanely impressive is that amidst the instrumental acrobatics is a smattering of hooks and little melodic motifs that become earworms even if they only occur in the song once. It’s those fucking post-y, delay-soaked leads, man. They know how to work that shit.
I have to confess, The Flesh Prevails is a hard album to describe, though I’m trying. But if I were to resort to vague metaphors that tell you nothing about the music itself, I would say it’s like a cosmic antimatter asteroid that basks everything in a gorgeous shimmer before its impact completely decimates all life surrounding the impact zone.
I’ve definitely listened to the album non-stop, and it’s one of the best I’ve heard all year for sure. It’s worth listening to for the gripping experience if nothing else. Fallujah are definitely trying to carve a niche for themselves, creating an ambience-heavy tech-death sound that has kept me coming back for more. I love what these guys are doing and can’t wait to see what comes next. I’d be picking this up if I were you. It’s masterfully composed modern tech-death.
The Flesh Prevails is out now on the Unique Leader label, and Fallujah are out now on the Summer Slaughter tour (dates are here).
Good review, and it admits what I’ve discovered as well: this album is difficult to explain.
My reaction is strange also: it is undeniably excellent in the moment. As I actively listen to it, I think, “Man, I love this!” Then I stop listening to it, or the record concludes, and I realize I don’t remember it very well. I know there is a song called “Allure,” but could I distinguish it by ear from the others? Probably not, and that’s after several listens.
Time will tell with this album, as it always does, but I can’t remember the last time I heard an album that kicks so much, but sticks so little.
That’s basically how I felt about it too. Scott Carstairs is a hell of a guitarist, and his last name cracks me up, but none of it sticks with me either. I too will listen to it, enjoy most of it, but none of it sticks. The songwriting is not varied enough for my tastes. Yes there are instrumentals, but for the death metal meat of the album, the songs are written in a too same-y way structure wise.
I really think it is because the mastering feels so congested. They compressed the hell out of this record and it just doesn’t feel like anything has any room to breathe, so you come away from it without having absorbed a lot of it.
A new way of doing metal and not a just a new album masterfully conceived. The evolution of the band is perfect, fierce and simultaneously relaxing, emotionally deep in any single note with extraordinary precision and a wise taste for the “Ambient ” aspect like the wonderful “Levitation”. The rise of these young stars continue, a tue force in modern metal!
“a new way of doing metal”
Pretty sure Mithras combined ambient music and technical death metal a decade ago
That was my first thought as well, however it was definitely different to this, so it’s not AS direct a comparison.
I never heard music by “Mithras” even if i know that “Fallujah” are not the first “Atmospheric Death Metal” band. I wrote “a new way of doing metal” because the atmospheres seems very different from some of their “colleagues” choices and completely far from “Death Metal” but I realize that maybe my comment is too overblown, just a personal impression during the listening of “The Flesh Prevails”.
The potential for this album feels astronomical and the songs are truly great. But it’s so goddamn loud, there are sections where the bass and the low end in general just disappear. Kick drums distort, the height of the music is mushed. I am dying to like this, I am dying to love this but the production is making it hard for me.
I haven’t got to hear all of the disc just yet, but I’m REALLY loving what I’ve listened to thus far. This new sound for them is, at least to my ears and knowledge, very original, and is certainly not a re-treading of well-trod paths.
I like it. I’ve always liked the band… but it feels like there’s not QUITE enough substance here for a whole album. But too much for an EP. Lol. Quite a few of the later tracks just… meander aimlessly… taking up space without hooking you in. But the strongest tracks are REALLY strong.
It’s a great extension and build-up of their sound overall… though the hyperbole describing it as “redefining a new form of metal” or that sort of thing (that I’ve seen on a few sites) is totally overblown… it’s good, but it’s not some sort of paradigm shift!
i really want to like this album and purchase it, but it’s too damn loud
another casualty of the loudness war
it’s death metal u pussy, grow a pair, its supposed to be loud
Your lack of understanding, shall be your undoing.
it must be so nice to be naive
it’s okay, you can go back to your slipknot and mushroomhead and let the metalheads discuss intelligent topics.
but in all seriousness, (and insults aside, lets me mature here) how “loud” music should be should depend on our volume knob, not tastelessly jacking the EQ to 11 and sacrificing dynamics and emotion (which is what this does).
Saying something is supposed to be loud seems too much a cop-out; an illegitimate attempt at rationalizing poor production skill.
The last five songs on this disc make for a really good block of music. Also, this disc is LOUD.
Yeah, I really can’t listen to this because of the loudness. I think the drums sound like utter poop. Also, that “Alone With You” ambient track is garbage, it’s just sort of a bland take on ambience. Anybody remember the song they put out before the Harvest Wombs called “The Door Made of Light?” I wish they had kept THAT sound.
Yeah, you can’t really listen to it because you’re a pussy we know. Sorry a Death Metal album is too “Loud” for you Ms. Prissy Pants.
10/10! Review it again!