Fallujah - "Undying Light"
Fallujah - “Undying Light”
Back in 2011 when Fallujah tore into the Death Metal scene with their debut album “Harvest Wombs” I thought they would be the future of the genre, every moment of that album was years ahead of most bands putting out records in that time. But, it seemed with each passing album and line up change the band would almost regress and lose some of that initial unique sound they forged with limitless talent. Now in 2019 we hear the bands newest release “Undying Light” which is their fourth full length record.
Currently as of writing this I’m on my 5th listen through with “Undying Light” to try and really grasp, articulate and dissect fully what I feel is missing here, it sounds like there’s so many steps back on this record that I’m almost in complete shock and confusion to what happened with this band and the choices that were made during the writing process for this record.
While the album itself overall does have a pretty solid cohesion in terms of sound and style, at points it just feels so monotonous and to some extent even repetitive. It’s almost a chore to get through the whole record, there were times I thought I was listening to the same songs replay but I knew that wasn’t the hard truth here.
Every song is between 4 1/2 and 5 minutes and while listening it feels like a diluted, stale and and stagnant pace of a record. You just want something, anything, to stand out and make you go, wow, that was amazing what did I just hear?! But instead you feel like you’ve heard this record a hundred times by a hundred other bands now. Another piece to this puzzle for this record was the addition of new vocalist Antonio Palermo. While I never thought Alex was especially mind blowing with his style, his vocals always just fit the music better and integrated itself in a way that feels completely missing here and having that lower range gone sucks some of the life out of the music. With Antonio his vocals just add to the whole basic feel of this record. His range stays fairly mid to high range with light cleans strewn about, they sound monotonous and dry.
Almost every song has the leads and some excellent guitar riffs so buried in the mix they’re almost unrecognizable and when they do present themselves they kind of just “float” and meander around the song with no real conclusion to their intention. It’s just one massive rhythmic pace repeated with no real variation within and that’s what you hear the most from the guitar work on this record. And that’s truly a shame because those leads and epic heavy riffs as well as the solos were the real shining moments that were just integral to the bands once unique soundscapes. Theres little to no fast riffing or harmonized leads that dominate the songs like past records, which is what the band did so incredibly well and made it their own.
I understand the need and point of a band evolving and changing their sound to grow as musicians so they don’t write the same record over and over. But it seems like over the years they’ve abandoned that for a more generic sounding collage of riffs and rhythms. The band has commented on this record as being a “Prog” record and that they really wanted to hone in their sound, but it doesn’t sound like progression is sounds like regression or stagnation even.
But the biggest and most egregious transgression to me is the track “Sanctuary” the opening riff sounds almost identical to the Obscura song “Incarnated” but just sped up a few BPM with a couple slight differentiations in notes being played in the riff, now, while most likely not intentionally done (at least one would hope) it just adds to my case for this record sounding uninspired and unoriginal in so many ways across the board here.
There are some moments on this record, however sparingly, that I did enjoy. The main riff in “Dopamine” is pretty heavy and sounds awesome, it rips across your ears with its The track “Hollow” has this incredibly nasty sounding background riff playing around the 1 minute mark, but again, its so buried in the mix I barely heard it until my 3rd listen to the record. And that’s truly a shame because I do realize how talented Scott is as a guitar player and this record, in my opinion doesn’t do a whole lot to showcase that talent here at all. The production on this record is good, everything sounds full, bright, loud and heavy, but like I’ve stated a few times there’s so many things that got prioritized in the mix, that to me, all the interesting parts get lost and drowned in the sea of rhythm and vocals. Even some of the better drum parts are swallowed up because of this. The whole record just feels so….generic. For a band that was once the future it seems they’re content being in the present and not doing anything to push the genre forward anymore.
“Undying Light” is just too rhythm/chord driven to truly stand out to me. It sounds flat and outdated in terms of song writing, which I’m sure most will disagree with this opinion. But for me I don’t hear any replay value or longevity in this record and I don’t even see it being on very many End of Year lists either. And that for me makes this record a 4/10