01. The Dead Sea
03. Venom Upon The Blade
[Unique Leader Records]
Californian death metallers Fallujah had a sleeper hit on their hands in 2011 with their debut album The Harvest Wombs, which was met with a rapidly growing fanbase and high-profile supporting gigs, both local and international. Initially compared to the likes of The Faceless and the legion of bands that followed in their wake, Fallujah’s depth of sound and wide array of influences set them apart and established the band as stand-out up-and-comers in the emerging trend of prog-influenced death metal. The band has done quite a bit of maturing over the past two years, and now their potential is already starting to become fully realized with their new three-track EP, Nomadic.
Nomadic marks a further evolutionary step for the band, who has since grown to embrace more of their extra-metal influences. In fact, Fallujah manage to further carve themselves a niche and establish a signature sound that is actually wholly unique and memorable. While their feet are still planted in death metal soil with powerful roars, technical riffing, and a driving rhythm section, the band more often find themselves preoccupied with soothing melodic tones and ethereal atmosphere. In fact, Nomadic‘s five-minute centerpiece ‘Silent‘ is an entirely ambient track, with distant unintelligible syllables beautifully sang by guest vocalist Byanca Munoz (ex-Whirr, who is present across the entire EP) which calls to mind the soundscapes of Icelandic post-rock visionaries Sigur Ros.
Of course, extreme metal bands have been biting at post-rock for some time now, but Fallujah — who have already laid the groundwork for success on The Harvest Wombs — allow it to manifest and co-exist alongside death metal, rather than switching styles on the fly, a-la The Contortionist. This is often aided by the band’s myriad of influences ranging from black metal to jazz fusion, where rushing blasts of tremolo picking builds blurring reverb as colorful exotic chords swirl around in the mix. That’s the magic Nomadic; these influences converge seamlessly and cohesively in an organic sound that is known only to Fallujah.
Existing fans need not worry that Fallujah have eschewed the elements of their sound that established them as promising up-and-comers. Alex Hofmann has yet to trade his bark for a croon (not that this would be unwelcome), and the aforementioned clean vocals from Munoz is a pleasant aesthetic choice that sticks to a supporting role. The guitar work is still as strong as ever, and Nomadic is found as a home to some of the most impressive yet tasteful lead guitar that death metal has seen in recent years. The accentuated lush atmospherics work surprisingly well with Fallujah’s mechanical drum work, as well.
Nomadic‘s biggest nemesis is its brevity. Once ‘Venom Upon The Blade’ fades to black, it is immediately apparent that Nomadic is over much too quickly. Though intended to be a brief snapshot of a band as they further discover themselves while at their most inspired, it does exactly what it’s supposed to. While a beautiful and promising sign of things to come, a few tweaks could propel this band further into the stratosphere. The otherwise awe-inspiring ambient track ‘Silent‘ is without climax, and had it been bridged to the surrounding tracks, Nomadic could have had a continuous flow as a three-part-suite that could have made a more profound statement.
Even still, for three tracks, Fallujah have weaved a strangely dichotomous sound that feels like seething cathartic outrage while maintaining an all-encompassing glow of zen. It could be argued that somewhere along the way the term “progressive” became superfluously used to describe bands who never really brought furtherance to their respective genre, but there’s no question that the term is appropriate to describe Fallujah. Nomadic covers more ground in its eighteen minute runtime than many of their contemporaries manage to explore in forty. Let’s hope this is the direction the band keeps exploring, because Nomadic is the band’s most inspired work yet.
Fallujah – Nomadic gets…