Fallujah exploded onto the metal scene a few years ago with their 2014 release The Flesh Prevails garnering them a cult following within the extreme metal scene for their unique melodies and intricate soloing from guitarist Scott Carstairs. 2016’s Dreamless took the band to yet further heights, being hailed as one of the band’s finest albums by some. However, the departure of longtime vocalist Alex Hofmann in 2017 followed by the departure of guitarist Brian James in 2018 left some wondering what the band would do. After teasing several items for many months on their social media’s, the band has released their long awaited follow up record.
Right from the first few seconds of “Glass House” it is immediately apparent that this is not a continuation of the themes explored on the previous album. Gone are the spaced out layers of synths and warp-speed guitar riffs. Instead, they are replaced with layered harmonies and a record that all together sounds incredibly polished. New vocalist Antonio Palmero has a noticeably different timbre compared to former vocalist Hofmann, however slots into the songs rather expertly. Whilst some more variety in his range such as the odd lower note would be nice, the cleaner sections where he uses his baritone voice as shown on “Dopamine” do add that little extra bit at the right moments.
Unlike some of their peers in the genre whose albums can sometimes feel a little disjointed, Fallujah have been able to create an album which feels like one piece of music with several different movements. Whilst some could argue that this makes each song sound a little samey, there are differences between each track with “Distant and Cold” sounding noticeably different from “Hollow”. On the topic of the former, the slow and spaced out atmospheres created in this song make for a noticeably darker tone than on the other songs which again, keeps things varied.
In short, whilst the album may not be as strong or feature as much variety as their previous albums, overall Undying Light feels more complete and cohesive as an album. The elements that make up Fallujah are still in this album and it is still “a Fallujah album”. It’s just not the one some people might have been expecting.
Undying Light is available now via Nuclear Blast Records