Fallujah – The Harvest Wombs

Fallujah

The Harvest Wombs

01. Alpha Incipient
02. Ritual Of Godflesh
03. Become One
04. Cerebral Hybridization
05. Prison of the Mind
06. The Flame Surreal
07. Enslaved Eternal Phenomenon
08. Hallucination
09. The Harvest Wombs
10. Assemblage of Wolves

[11/22/11]
[Unique Leader]

Many a metal fan has become desensitized towards technical death metal. When a genre is defined by being overly technical and complicated, it’s easy to push the envelope when it is a purely metric measure. However, in the end, the bands that shine are those who focus on songwriting and coherence, which is why Obscura are the best act in the genre for me. Fallujah, who used to be blackened deathcore, have decided to try their hand at TDM in The Harvest Wombs, and they seem to have gotten the memo, as their songs are songs first, technical exercises second. They also have brought their blackened flair into the genre, which is definitely a welcome sound that makes them even more unique. What’s so special about this album? Let’s take a look.

I am a firm believer in  the strength of the first track in an album, and “Alpha Incident” definitely does not disappoint. It immediately sells the blackened death metal with great ambiance, and then turns into technical death metal in the style of Decrepit Birth and First Fragment. I know TDM fans are very particular about their subtypes, so I’ll be straight up front and say that Decrepit Birth seem to be the main influence on Fallujah. But there is so much more to their sound than that. The black metal sound is very deliberately woven into the technical framework. Without that, I would have been significantly less attracted to The Harvest Wombs, because while the death metal is good, it’s not too special. Don’t get me wrong though, the songs are definitely crushingly heavy and quite technical at times. There are quite a bit of hooks that are definitely very memorable, which is definitely not easy to achieve in this kind of music. I should also applaud their ability to spice up what initially sound like boring old death metal riffs by expanding upon them with quite interesting composition.

Which brings me to my next point. Another surprisingly welcome aspect of Fallujah is their ability to throw curveballs. After listening to a lot of music, one comes to except certain notes and sections to follow each other in a certain fashion. Fallujah also seem to be aware of that fact, so they constantly change it up by injecting unconventional factors into their riffs and song structures. Of course, this can sometimes be a bad thing as it can lead to song structures being random for the sake of being random, but that is not the case here. To make a driving analogy, Fallujah don’t randomly drive off the road, they just drive in the opposite lane. They go in the face of convention to excite you. Not only is this the case for riff and song structure, but it is also for what is included in a song. By that I mean that The Harvest Wombs is surprisingly very jazzy. There are jazz breaks in songs, the techy riffs are mostly jazz-influenced instead of being dissonant or eastern-themed. There are also chill-out (relatively, for a TDM band) sections with quite a bit of ambiance, which also break up the pace and emphasize the heavy sections more. For a first album (ignoring their actual first blackened deathcore album, since this album contains absolutely no core whatsoever), the musicianship on this album is very remarkable. Fallujah sound like masters of their craft. Each riff is worth listening to and it all comes together, which I cannot say about most bands in any genre. The instrumental track “The Flame Surreal” is an absolute must-listen, because it is a masterful blend of ambiance, jazz and technical death metal. And it all makes sense when put together.

Now, in classical review-writing fashion, I will also throw a curveball by saying this album is not all upside. The downside being the production. It’s definitely not abysmal like other albums in recent memory, but The Harvest Wombs is overly loud and digital at times. The loudness makes it quite tiring to listen to for long stretches of time. The drum sounds they use are quite grating and take up room that should be occupied by other instruments, and they sound absolutely fake. The guitars are very compressed and have no attack whatsoever, which makes many riffs less impactful than they could have been. Also their tone is very inorganic, which does not fit the smooth and jazzy music they make. Other than that, their production sounds like Decrepit Birth, with a lot of reverb, which is not my personal preference, but I understand that this appeals to many a listener, so I will not hold that against Fallujah. Other than the completely ‘wrong’ production, there is nothing wrong with this album.

Overall, this is a great jazzy blackened technical death metal album (haha). Fallujah have put together an impressive musical palette which they use to paint very intriguing songs that sound like nothing else. They are incredibly jazzy and the atmospheric/blackened elements they use add some much-needed originality to a genre that has been explored very thoroughly. While it is a shame that unbalanced production makes the album less perfect than it could have been, it is definitely a milestone of the genre and a very fine example of masterful musicianship. This album is definitely required listening.

Fallujah- The Harvest Wombs gets…

4.5/5

– NT

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