Fallujah
Undying Light

I rather enjoyed Fallujah’s semi meteoric rise from fairly typical Unique Leader modern tech death through 2014s The Flesh Prevails, (which made my 2014 year end list) and 2016s ambitious Dreamless, as the band expanded into far more atmospheric and progressive pastures. However, some lineup churn (notably original vocalist/guitarist Alex Hoffman and longtime guitarist Brian James – who is now in similar sounding band Aenimus) as well as poor reaction to the bands first sing “Ultraviolet”, appear to have cast a bit of a pall on the bands latest effort.

Now, the knee jerk reaction to “Ultraviolet” and new vocalist Andrew Palmero (who like guitarist Rob morey, comes over from black metal act Underling), while a bit of an overreaction has merit. While, at heart Fallujah are delivering the same well executed, dreamy, atmosphere filled take on modern djent tech death metal, there is something missing. Whether it was Hoffman’s more imposing bellows (Palmero has a strictly black metal/ screamo howl that gets a bit grating and a few ‘meh’ clean croons), or lack of female vocals that flocked the last two efforts, or a slight reigning in of the ambient elements (which some might welcome), it’s just a bit lacking and certainly not quite up to par with Dreamless or The Flesh Prevails. And astute listeners may even  sense a sort of The Deftones vibe here and there (“Eyes Like the Sun”, “Distant and Cold”), which will affect you depending on how you view the The Deftones. 

Still, occasionally the band remind me of what they can do, regardless of who is signing as the likes of “Last Light” or “The Ocean Above” , with its steady, dreamy lurch or “Dopamine” with some injection of ambient prose, but still, it’s not quite as excessive as before, and just isn’t quite as effective, and again I’ll come back to Palmero, who just makes even the dreamy moments more abrasive, rather than ethereal, and when he is left out of the mix, the band can still be evocative and brutal.

And the band occasionally hit on a chord or riff that recalls the last two albums perfectly such as the start of “Hollow”, (until Palmero start screeching), and dramatic atmospherics in the more urgent “Sanctuary” so its not a total shift in sound, but it will be divisive among fans. When Closer “Departure” ends the album and I’m kind of ambivalent, where as the last two efforts moved me (both positively and negatively), they at least had some impact on me, but with Undying Light, I really just reviewed it and I’m ready to move on and I’m more apt to reach for Aenimus and their debut for this style of metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
April 3rd, 2019

Comments

  1. Commented by: GWW

    God i hate that screaming Metalcore vocals with a passion! Rahr Rahr Rahraaaaa…horrible. It definitely doesn’t fit the killer chords and ambience on this tune, which is better than the premier.


  2. Commented by: F.Rini

    Erik
    Nice review. I’m really digging this new Fallujah a lot. I love all their albums and the Nomadic ep. I do feel the new vocalist, like you, can be quite grating. Missing are the low growls and the other singer was more dynamic. Agreed- you cannot have those ethereal Fallujah awesome parts and then this new singer doing those high bm screams. His style really just does not fit in with Fallujah, but I’m still loving this album.


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