Released: 2014, Unique Leader Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
San Francisco's Fallujah offer something of a departure from Unique Leader's usual stable of ultra-brutal technical death metal. While still steeped in death metal, the quintet take a far more progressive route, and flavor it with industrial, electronic and ambient elements that make up in atmosphere and sheer dynamism what they might lack, relatively speaking, in out and out brutality.
At times, as on the title track or “Levitation” the band's almost elegant dexterity echoes Fates Warning, King Crimson or Animals As Leaders, before yielding to a sonic cascade of guitar, roiling rhythms and Alex Hoffman’s blowtorch vocals. “Alone With You” is even more unassuming, its electronic dub being little more than an ethereal wash of synths and digital percussion under the wispy guest vocals of chanteuse Roniit Alkayam, who pops up several times here. It abruptly ends with the flip of a switch as the electro/metal instrumental “Allure” reintroduces heaviness to the equation.
“Sapphire,” on the other hand, is thunderous and chaotic, perhaps the most technical track here, yet behind it all is a layer of synth and a soaring guitar line that snakes its way around to cushion some of the blow and make the song a bit less threatening. “Starlit Path” and the super-charged “Carved In Stone” feature much the same sort of yin and yang.
“The Night Reveals” and “Chemical Cave,” with their deliberate, shimmering riffs, sound almost post-rock. Both, however, also find the band going off on amped up, proggy jams with plucky, limber bass lines and – especially on “The Night Reveals” - some rather spectacular guitar leads.
The Flesh Prevails sometimes provides a bit too much atmosphere and dynamic breadth for its own good. The electronics that permeate it can be intrusive - and “Alone With You” sounds completely out of place. The sequencing also is a bit disjointed, especially over the latter half as two of the last three songs are instrumentals, which saps more of the momentum already lost with “Alone.” Nevertheless, as death metal goes, it's a decidedly different and daring album, and that ultimately triumphs here.