Being wrong is often a good thing. For instance, the first time I listened to this album, I thought it was simply The Flesh Prevails v1.5. Nope. This album is much better written and far more mature. It may be an evolution instead of a revolution, but its still a much bigger step than it appears at first blush.
The major thing that jumps out after a few listens is that the arrangements and riffs are much more coherent and link together much more tightly than they did on Flesh. The melodic through lines are easier to pick out and follow. Granted, many of them are still a bit similar, but the interplay between the rhythm and lead instruments is leagues better this time around. It really feels like they managed to mesh the melodic ideas. On Flesh, it felt more like the tech-death elements and the atmospheric elements were written separately and merged after the fact. It was still cool, but it didn’t feel as though it quite fit. On Dreamless, the two pieces of the puzzle lock together much better.
At least that is the case with the melodic instruments. My god the drumming on this albums sucks. Sure, its clean and fast….but that’s it. The drums on this entire album basically boil down to: On, Off, or Random Accents. It sounds like a drum machine doing George Kollias in the same way it would sound to have a text to speech program give a speech from a famous orator like Lincoln or King Jr. With music this dynamic, the drummer really needs to step it up a notch. There are things called “groove” and “feel” or, hell, even basic rudiments, that could spice things up. If the drummer incorporated a more diverse skill set, the music this band could write would be mind boggling. He’s obviously got the chops to do it, so I sincerely hope he expands both his rhythmic and dynamic repertoire in the future.
I am all for the clean vocals added on this album, both male and female. They really fit in well and add another fantastic dimension to Fallujah’s sound. The screamed vocals work well too, but I do wish the vocalist would do a few more rythmic parts in addition to the extended held screams. I feel like that would open up certain sections, and if used sparingly like the clean vocals, add another great tool to this bands kit.
The sound of this album is much improved over Flesh. Its still loud as hell, but everything sounds much more balanced and clear. The insane high end push from the last album is gone as well, lending a much more natural sound to the overall mix, which is much appreciated. The use of wide open ethereal spaces juxtaposed with very dry and in-your-face sounds works well with the type of music on display here and all of the individual pieces shine though when required.
Overall, this ablum also flows really well from track to track. The ebbs and flows within each song also feel very well paced. Whenever you feel like you can’t take any more intensity, the album gives you a respite with a track like Dreamless or Filedio, with the reverse also being true. And when this album hits, it hits hard. There are points, especially during the crescendo (and yes I believe this album as a whole is arranged purposefully enough to use that term). The only misstep I feel in this area is Les Silences, which I think goes on about twice as long as it needed to. That track just didn’t really go anywhere or payoff well enough to warrant its length.
This is a fantastic album from Fallujah, even if it falls a bit short of the earth-shattering greatness a lot of people, including myself, were hoping for. Fallujah break some new ground on this release with more lucid arrangements and the addition of clean vocals, so I hope they gain some new fans for their efforts. This is a young band that I really feel is still on their creative upswing and while I can’t wait to hear what they think of and where they go next, I am perfectly content to listen to this album until then.