American atmospheric death metal troupe Fallujah are now onto their fourth studio record ‘Undying Light’, and a few things have changed since their last effort. Antonio Palermo (ex-Underling), is their new vocalist in tow, and he’s no stranger to the band having guested on ‘Prison Of The Mind’ from their 2011 debut record, ‘The Harvest Wombs’.
One could well point to the vocals of Fallujah as being their weakest aspect, especially on 2016’s ‘Dreamless’, which struggled to break free of its linear approach, so it’s refreshing to see that the band have decided to mix things up a bit. From initial impressions, there seems to have been a conscious decision to ditch a lot of their heavier deathcore leanings in favour of a sound which occasionally borders on the ethereal.
The record starts off in a heavy manner with ‘Glass House’ containing an interesting main riff which feels relatively positive-sounding until harrowing screams kick in and trade places with pummelling drum work from Andrew Baird, but the guitar solo towards the track bleeds emotion and overall ends on a high.
‘Last Light’ is full-on apocalyptic sounding with superb instrumentation and frenetic pace changes, especially the work being displayed through Scott Carstairs‘ guitar work, although Palermo‘s linear vocal display does peg the momentum back a tad, whilst both ‘Ultraviolet’ and ‘Dopamine’ are full on groove-fests with ample levels of head banging intensity and engaging rhythms throughout.
It’s at this point in the record that things start to become a touch more varied. ‘Sanctuary’ injects melodic, dare we say almost clean-sounding vocals in certain aspects of the song, and whilst not overly laden with them, it helps to breathe some variety in their sound. The melody is further steeped into the guitarmanship and is set against several broken-down sections led by the staccato beat of the drums. There’s a very TesseracT/Deftones feel running through the track, and the whole package is sealed off with tremendously floaty atmospherics punctuated by some technical riffage here and there.
‘Distant And Cold’ follows a similar pattern in its etherealness and is super chilled when compared to the rest of the record. But it’s not long before blast beats, breakdowns, and sheer ferocity return on ‘Departure’ coupled with some hauntingly emotive vocal lines from Palermo; given that the man appears to be straining every fibre of his body eschewing these lyrics, there appears to be real sense and meaning behind his aggression.
The band appear to have turned a corner in quality with this fourth studio record, which has far more variety than their previous material and is crisply produced into a polished package. Whether this is a conscious step to swim in broader waters, or whether the introduction of a new vocalist has given them the impetus to challenge their previously linear template, only time will tell. But, right here, right now, Fallujah are most definitely a band to have on your radar.
After getting into alternative music during the mid 90s with the rise of nu-metal and pop-punk, I’ve gradually spread my interests far and wide and have a real love for metalcore, prog metal and tech metal. Amongst other things, I am a husband, father of two amazing kids, heavy metal DJ, and video game/book/nerd enthusiast!