Fallujah - _The Flesh Prevails_
(Unique Leader Records, 2014)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8.5 out of 10)
The successful integration of nuanced soundscapes within a death metal framework is a task that, theoretically, seems impossible and quite frankly outlandish. Yet for each seemingly bizarre idea that finds rejection from the majority, there's always a minority out there that pushes the limits with a hunger for the unexplored and the unfamiliar. New Zealand's captivating act Ulcerate have already blazed the trail of complex death metal with heavy, gut wrenching atmospherics, but it doesn't look like they're going to be alone for long. Fallujah's sophomore record _The Flesh Prevails_ is the latest addition to this slowly growing trend, or possibly even sub-genre of death metal.

Like so many bands around the world, Fallujah looks outside its native land to find its name. A couple of names that come to mind are California's legendary pillars of post-metal Isis and North Carolina's long running death metal horde Nile; both taking inspiration from Egypt, mind you. Fallujah's name comes from an Iraqi city on the banks of the Euphrates River that dates back to Babylonian times. Like most parts of the Middle East, this city doesn't seem to spend large swaths of its time in peace, and peace doesn't seem like something that has influenced the band's sound, so maybe there's a link there.

With an eerie first minute that slowly creeps in, "Starlit Path" gets the album running. Dark and dense, this appetizing track lays down the foundation for Fallujah's second full-length with its atmospheric build-up and violent riffs. There's hardly any interest in repeating a certain riff or segment throughout the album. Most tracks flow in a linear fashion, like "The Night Reveals" for example, where the intensity keeps on mounting as the layers build up a towering wall of sound. The title track is another example of this kind of writing, wherein the delay on the guitar creates a rather psychedelic effect with the intermittent drum pattern. The drums then morph into the standardized double bass buzzing while the lead guitar takes over. Then about three minutes into this mostly instrumental track, the vocals burst as if coming from someone who has endured so much tension and just can't take it anymore.

The ending piece "Chemical Cave" also plays out like another dance of instruments, as the drums come slowly to the fore with a plodding pattern while the guitars soar with an emotional line of sparse notes. With that much shifting throughout the album, some may accuse Fallujah of being just another band consisting of technically capable yet creatively limited musicians, more interested in showing off than in writing an album that makes sense. Yet after listening to _The Flesh Prevails_ several times, the lasting impression is one of admiration for this band. This is an album with a very high level of complexity and detail in its composition and individual execution. From the commanding vocals to the ferocious drumming and intricate layers in between, this album is definitely not just for show.

Contact: http://fallujah.tumblr.com/

(article published 22/7/2014)


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