Album Review: Fallujah - Undying Light
Album: Undying Light
Genre: Extreme Metal
Release Date: 15 March 2019
Review by Steve Jenkins
Formed in 2007, Fallujah have been a band that many people have branded as one of the new kings of experimental metal, or progressive death metal, whatever you want to call it. The band had a very impressive debut back in 2011 with 'The Harvest Wombs' which showed promise and hope for the deathcore scene, before moving to a slightly more progressive path with the 2014 release 'The Flesh Prevails'. It would seem that Fallujah have been gradually evolving over the past decade to get to where they are now, which is one of more distinct and respected bands in their field. In 2016 they followed up their breakout album 'The Flesh Prevails' with with an even more ambitious and satisfying release titled 'Dreamless' and that basically took them to the next level and from support act to headliner.
Now, in 2019, and with a new singer (Antonio Palermo) joining the lineup, we ask ourselves, have Fallujah managed to take things even further with 'Undying Light'? Let's find out.
Fallujah always sort of fell into that deathcore/death metal catagory of metal, primarily because their music featured a few breakdowns here and there and some simplified yet punishing riffs. It took the band a while to experiment with soundscapes and more proggy elements, but once they did, you could see and hear their music grown and become more appealing. You could even argue that their 2016 album 'Dreamless' was edging away from death metal all-together, focusing more on well-balanced production and songwriting.
The first thing you'll notice on 'Undying Light' is the change in vocals. Antonio has more of a simplified style I guess you could say? Having said that, he does deliver a little more ferocity and aggression compared to Alex Hofmann with his high-shrieks and harshness. Although Alex was able to possess a more darker and ambient sound in his vocal tone with those growls and lower patterns, but Antonio does a good job maintaining a certain level of intensity.
Fallujah have always delivered when it comes to shifts within their styles, going from pummeling technical death metal to beautiful progressive/ambient rock sounds in the same song. The full-on assault of "Dopamine" stands strong with a melodic guitar tone that makes it possibly one of their most catchiest songs to date. The superb musicianship, layered songwriting and intoxicating atmosphere are still the most impressive elements of the album, but to be completely honest, anyone that has listened to their material in the past has come to expect those things on each release they put out. The production on 'Undying Light' is just as good, if not better, than 'Dreamless'. They're very good at giving every single layer of their music it's on stage to shine on, which further adds to their strengths as musicians. The haunting melodies are still here, accompanied by punchy riffs and torturing screams, not to mention some of the best drumming I've heard in a long time, controlled chaos is the perfect way to describe it.
The rate that these guys continue to grow as musicians is super impressive and undeniably impressive. With each release Fallujah seem to just step it up a notch, in a time where a lot of metal bands are releasing rather underwhelming material, this band simply refuses to do just that. It's always a pleasure listening to Fallujah, and despite them parting way with their vocalist of 10 years, this album proves that it won't affect them in the slightest. 'Undying Light' isn't necessarily a transcendent release, but if they can continue to progress at their current rate, I wouldn't be shocked if their next album was a game-changing masterpiece that sent shockwaves throughout the entire metal community.
8.5 out of 10
Undying Light is out March 15th via Nuclear Blast.