The whole idea of a record review is that an educated listener takes an unbiased listen to a new piece of music and provides his or her fair assessment of it. So let’s not call this a record review but rather a commentary. My Heavy Blog is Heavy colleague and editor Jimmy Rowe did a “real” review of “The Flesh Prevails” which you can find here
That’s because anyone familiar with me and my long relationship with Fallujah knows that I am hardly unbiased. I have been privileged over the last several years to get to know all of these gentlemen personally. My name is in the liner notes of both “The Harvest Wombs” and the new album “The Flesh Prevails.” I say this not to pat myself on the back but rather to acknowledge what you’re probably thinking, “What the hell did you expect Shields to say about this record other than it’s great?”
Come to think of it, what the hell did you expect me to say? “The Flesh Prevails” is great in part because I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in but was delighted with what came out.
I love tech death but unfortunately a lot of the best tech death bands in the world put out a “blow-your-pants-off” tech death record and then decide they really want to do something else with their lives. I think that’s one reason I’ve been obsessing so much this year on this Archspire record, because it is nothing but in your face masterful tech death.
I knew going in to “The Flesh Prevails” that Scott Carstairs and Alex Hofmann wanted to take Fallujah in a different direction, towards the more atmospheric side that we heard in some detail on last year’s EP “Nomadic.” Honestly I was prepared for a radical departure from Harvest Wombs but it’s apparent by the end of the second minute into “A Starlit Path” that no matter what direction this band may go, there will never be any doubt that this is Fallujah.
That’s because the key elements of Fallujah’s core sound are on display throughout The Flesh Prevails. Those include Scott’s inspired leads (pay special attention to the ones on “The Night Reveals”, “Sapphire”, and “Chemical Cave“) laid over Brian “Deebs” James’ rhythm guitar base. There’s Alex’s “tasteful” approach to death metal vocals, but mostly the things that make this beyond any doubt a Fallujah record are Andrew Baird’s signature drums and the tapping of bassist Robert Morey.
Tasteful and death metal aren’t usually things that go well together but it’s a word Alex has long used to describe his goals for this band. Fallujah continues to succeed in that no matter how far afield they end up traveling and travel they do. While staying anchored to that core sound, this record takes you on new journeys. Of particular note is the Cynic-inspired “Alone with You” and “Allure.”
Perhaps all of this, the shred and the prog, the blasts and the polyrhythms come together most efficiently on the title track. It takes true talent to start with shredding tech death leads and make them seem restrained but that’s exactly the effect that’s achieved.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing Fallujah for about four years now. From the first time I saw them on stage at a tiny club in Santa Cruz through all of the shows I’ve seen them at mini-warehouses and the like, they’ve always been a band with tremendous potential. With their position on Summer Slaughter this year and the buzz this record is already getting, I have no doubt that Fallujah is destined for the “A-List” of death metal. It’s my honor to have come along for the ride.
So what the hell did you expect me to say about Fallujah? Buy “The Flesh Prevails“ released today on Unique Leader records, that’s what, and enjoy some connoisseur’s death metal.