Stands alone in the world of metal

Californian tech-death band Fallujah have return with sophomore offering The Flesh Prevails.

Hauntingly diverse, the band has managed to take the genre to new levels with an array of atmospherics, mixing everything from death to jazz. It’s not that we haven’t seen this kind of indulgence before, however Fallujah turn such light and shade into more vast entities utilising the majesty of Scott Carstairs and Brian James’ stellar guitar work to great effect.

‘Starlit Path’ glides in gently, atmospherics teasing the listener, themselves aware that a storm is imminent. When it arrives, it’s frantic. The double kick of drums, machine gun guitars and Alex Hofmann’s vocal all immense and powerful, the previous subtlety now completely overtaken. The wall of sound is epic and then like the flick of a switch, Fallujah break off into a kaleidoscope of dreamy solos amongst the terror. Abruptly it ends.

‘Carved from Stone’ heads into a heavier domain with even more depth. The drumming evolves from frenetic to melodic beats and the guitar work is again masterful; the band even manages to fit in a breakdown around Hofmann bellowing “Does it make you feel alive”? The title track changes tack again, introducing female vocalist Roniit Alkayam. Her delicate vocal is a tranquil angelic mist in the background as manic guitars swirl once more. Again the track builds with Andrew Baird’s schizophrenic drums blending into the magic. Jazz and death in the same sentence shouldn’t connect. It should be disjointed, chaotic, but the sounds here combine into a blissful journey. Holding back, Hoffman is unheard until the track’s dying moments – his impact is immense.

‘Levitation’ with its prominent bass has Alkayam’s beautiful vocal soaring above the ensuing violence. ‘Alone with You’ allows her more time to weave in her Enya-like croon through an ambient industrial glaze, rising through the debris. The following instrumental track ‘Allure’ seamlessly evolves from its predecessor, announcing heavy guitar before a killer riff in the track’s guts destroys, and then off it winds into serene trailing guitar. Hofmann’s growl returns on ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Chemical Cave’ contains an extensive solo with a faint, ominous yet almost non-existent vocal track.

Fallujah have concocted an inspiring release. This kind of progression with atmospheric surroundings has not been done before, standing alone in the world of metal. Incredible artwork, bludgeoning moody guitar swings — if you’re keen on any type of tech-death metal, Fallujah should be to your liking. The only negative, if any, is that some tracks could have benefited from being even more expansive. Perhaps we’re just being greedy. Near perfection.

1. Starlit Path
2. Carved From Stone
3. The Night Reveals
4. The Flesh Prevails
5. Levitation
6. Alone With You
7. Allure
8. Sapphire
9. Chemical Cave