It’s a great time to be a fan of experimentation in music. Take for example the brand new album by Fallujah. In “Dreamless” we have a perfect example as to what can be done to broaden a musical style such as metal.
Melodic progressive death is the best way to describe the varied sound that defines this band, but really exploring the outer reaches of that description is the major key in showcasing this album as a show-stealer and attention-getter in a very busy and ambitious sub-genre such as progressive can be. So why am I heaping a large amount of praise? Because the hunger and depth to the sound is very much warranting of such accolades.
Opening with “Face Of Death”, the album starts off like an industrial machine with an astral ambiance, then moves to a triumphant delivery, which sets the pace for how much of the product progresses. Moving on into “Adrenaline”, rapid fire drums and equally pummeling guitars and bass gives a cerebral aural attack. Soaring high guitar notes accent the forceful nature of the backdrop of the song. The first single “The Void Alone” (which I find to be the most accessible track on the album, and a great introduction for anyone looking to hear what the band is all about) is full of complex time signatures and clean vocals from Tori Letzler, who is given a great balance of vocal tracks scattered throughout the varied landscape of compositions. Her haunting voice helps to balance out the harshness of Alex Hoffman’s guttural vocal barrage. Reaching the near halfway point of the album, the title track gives us a beautiful and haunting instrumental which gives a perfect glance into what the band’s more ambient side is like in full force. Lush guitar melodies lap at the listener like gentle and calming waves, carried along by perfectly placed drum patterns. Letzler’s vocals add the cherry on top to this soulful ambiance.
The second half of this album goes in some aspects to a more daunting and challenging forum. “The Prodigal Son” picks up where the title track left us in a laid back state but for a few moments, as the band ventures back to the heaviness, keeping the listener on the edge of their seat with the perfect mix of brutality and melody. The same can be said about the complexities in “Amber Gaze” before the band delves into experimentation with “Fidelio”. With this being the second instrumental, we are now treated to a beautiful synth and piano combination with the last moments of the song branching into electronic beats. That came as a bit of a surprise for me, but it fit well in this short span of time and gives more credibility to the definition of experimentation in the band. “Wind For Wings” gives us a laid back guitar tapping intro which leads to the signature guttural vocals and mathematically difficult time signatures that are well represented not only on this song, but on the album as a whole. Hoffman surprises with his clean vocals near the end of the song, which then trade off to Letzler’s ambient soaring harmonies in the background. “Les Silences” helps slow us back down before we hit the edge. Perhaps a little long time-wise but it still sits relatively well with the album execution. Finishing off the album, “Lacuna” gives us a perfect blend of the album’s ambience, technical merit, and absolute precision.
Summing up the general feel of this album is perhaps too daunting a task, but let me run down the particular aspects of the sound that were paramount and important to me. The band’s precision playing by all involved is masterful, but doesn’t give off the vibe of being too perfect or overproduced. The melodic guitar work throughout the record gives it a nice flair and uniqueness, while the signature tremolo effect used in that guitar sound which are scattered through the whole album may help to define their sound and stand out more among the other bands in the prog field. The beautiful and expansive production that accentuates all the high points of the band’s multitude of talents keeps the flow of the final product seamless and comes across as bright and powerful.
Where the band may lose some people is to the electronic elements that weave in and out of “Dreamless” as a whole, which can be big and long in some instances (specifically “Les Silences”). Some purists may frown on this but for the more experimental listener it will use these areas of the album to justify the argument that it makes the album flow that much better, and serves to give more originality to the overall sound.
In short, this is the kind of band which makes me excited for how metal is evolving and it shows that taking risks can pay huge dividends when all is said and done.
01. Face Of Death
03. The Void Alone
05. Scar Queen
07. The Prodigal Son
08. Amber Gaze
10. Wind For Wings
11. Les Silences
Playing time: 55:38
Release Date: 29 April, 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast
Website: Fallujah Official Facebook