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Deathcore and originality are far from seen as synonymous things. Californian death metal outfit Fallujah proved that the genre can very well be reassembled into something that hasn't entirely been heard so many times previously before moving onto their signature brand of prog death metal years later on. While this EP does carry out some typical traits albeit the cliché breakdown backed by squealing tremolo picking and scream/growl vocals are here, but the dark production, higher turned guitars and obvious Behemoth and Goatwhore influenced save this EP from being trapped behind the confines of mediocrity. This is deathcore, but it's not your typical deathcore. This is deathcore inspired by black metal. Believe it.
While the somewhat technical riffs go soaring by in a high tuning, blast beat drumming plays along with this band by their typical verse-bridge-verse-verse-breakdown-verse formula and how it's done is a tad impressive to say the least. However, the downside to this brings Fallujah the idea that just because they don't sound like every deathcore band on this EP, that they have the excuse of having all their songs not have variation either. These songs do blend into each other, I will admit that. Crafty and catchy breakdowns are here as well as the neat lead riffs that play over them, but anything they do does not give excuse by their overly formulaic songwriting.
I want to talk about the instruments now, the drum tone is actually something I do enjoy. It's at the right mastering volume and the snare done has this pop sound as does the bass drum retain this quiet bump that manages to glide along the black sound the band is going for. I'd like to call the tone of the drums "dusty" sounding, but it would be difficult to describe exactly what I mean by this. Basically they're quiet (almost vintage sounding) but not to the point where they're almost non-existent or thin to the point of asking "why didn't they just program the drums?" Not to mention his techniques get very impressive at times, especially by the last minute of the song "Le Serpent Rouge".
Finally, singer Alex Hofmann isn't much of a big shot, but his vocals get the job done. His growl reminds me of Nergal from Behemoth and while his scream is a lot more rare, it can be heard in the track "Le Serpent Rouge" and in the title track during a large outburst moments and it doesn't exactly sound half bad either. I honestly wished he screamed a tad more than stuck to growls, his growls gave the music more of a bore feeling to the sound of this EP rather than the extremity that deathcore vocals usually aim to do whilst your typical singer of this genre (at that) would alternate to different vocal styles without hesitation.
Basically, I'd like to just say this EP is not a classic, but it's not bad. I've gave it a couple spins and not so much about it stuck out to me to retain memory-worthy, but you know, if I did listen to it and if I did come back listening to a couple times more afterward (and remembered to do so at that), then obviously this band did something right here. I would recommend to give this release a shot and if you hate it, go for Fallujah's critically acclaimed later records instead.
Favorite cuts: "Slave Race" and the title track.
I love death metal and hardcore, but I'm more or less a deathcore hater. Some deathcore bands are just gussied-up emo kids churning out "extreme music" with little idea of what it means for something to be truly extreme, or what it means for something to be music (hint: the two are related). Some deathcore bands are just wannabe technical death metal bands who've decided to throw in some of the usual wanky, triggered bullshit between generic breakdowns. And last, but least shitty, some deathcore bands are basically just doing a poppy version of beatdown hardcore. I actually dig some of this stuff a lot (Emmure's "Solar Flare Homicide" is a fucking jam!), I just don't see why it needs its own subgenre.
Fallujah, however, are none of the above. I randomly came across someone referring to them as a fusion of deathcore and black metal, and between that and the ominous Iraqi name, I was intrigued enough to check out their Leper Colony EP. A fusion of this kind could really really suck (think Dimmu Borgir with slams, which I'm sure someone has done already!), but Fallujah make it sound natural. It helps that they're not trying to bring in pure second wave black metal, since that sort of thing would never fit with deathcore's hypermodern vibe. Rather, their black metal-influenced harmonics and melodies have a bleak, industrial quality that blends perfectly with the chug riffing. There's something French in this aesthetic--I'm reminded of Arkhon Infaustus and Blut Aus Nord, though more in terms of the mood than the specifics of the sound.
If you break the album down riff by riff you'll also hear some melodic/technical death metal riffing along with the black metal and the really brutal slams, but the mix isn't schizoid at all. The music's stylistic variety makes sense because it's all at the service of Fallujah's punishing futurist vision. If I were that robotic spider-tank thing from the end of Ghost In The Shell, this is what I'd play on my iPod all day as I stomped around blowing shit away with my chainguns.
I also took a look at the lyrics, and they show a real attempt to craft a world--a collapsing modern world haunted by ancient conspiracies and the shadow of Satan. These guys are hardly literary geniuses (indeed, some of the passages are more or less gibberish), but they have vision. Few deathcore bands will ever make anything resembling art, but I'm pretty sure Fallujah make the cut.
(Adapted from a band feature written for Trial By Ordeal, www.trialbyordeal666.blogspot.com)
The San Francisco Bay Area, USA band, Fallujah, carries on the American tradition of blurring the lines between hardcore and metal. I think we might tag this genre as, “metalcore.” Every time I hear a band that does this well, I think about the one album/one ep band of the East Coast, Prayer for Cleansing and the revolution they caused in the American metal scene by creating that genre. I credit them with the creation of that genre anyway. But, what’s a genre? Anyway, these guys are a little more on the metal side in that their sound is crunchier and louder. But they are not as smooth-heavy as the Swedish metalcore project, The Haunted (somewhere amidst that spectrum). Fallujah has, with LEPER COLONY, formed something else.
I enjoy waiting to hear how metal CDs open themselves. As in, what kind of intro sounds will they use? I think part of it is curiosity about each new innovation possible. But I also think it has become a beautiful simple tradition with metal to properly introduce a CD with some evil warm-up. LEPER COLONY opens with a great track name, “Impending Incarnation,” on a light dark whispery sound followed by crunchy black metal. The band uses this crunchy sound through out the album but it is mixed with a deliberate sense of off-rhythm and rhythm change attitude. For instance, in the third track, “Le Serpent Rouge,” the guitars open the track then the drums dash in after a few measures. Just a few measures earlier, the drums slow down and the guitars go silent for about a full beat. They go back and forth between these motifs for much of this track. This track also features a few single string whines as well.
I do like that the rhythm changes feel deliberate. And I like that the title track, “Leper Colony,” turns the style into something less chunky and more synth-added black metal power. I do wish the band was a little more traditional in its black metal though. I like the metalcore elements for sure. That’s new. But the deliberate tech-metal sound in their particular version of black metal leaves me thinking they should put their sound through the fire a little longer and make it harder. The hate is not distilled enough yet. Overall, the album is not bad though. It starts out well with a good short track, then spends too much time riffing crunchy black metal, hits a high point with the title track, then swings back into chunk-metal land. Fallujah’s LEPER COLONY spends too much time there for my tastes.
Written for www.brutalism.com
Fallujah is a young band from San Francisco which plays a hybrid of technical, brutal death metal with a lot of crushing groove and breakdowns, include some more math tech stuff which bears a similar sound to Meshuggah. The band does not consider itself 'deathcore', but I have to admit the constant metalcore style breakdowns mixed with the guttural vox and the faster, more technical material reminded me a lot of bands in that scene.
That said, Leper Colony is a decent EP and introduction to the band. There are six tracks here, opening with the desolate and mechanical math chug of instrumental "Impending Incarnations". "Ancient Dialectic" breaks out with all cylinders firing, first with its faster and technical riffs and then a bludgeoning rolling chug breakdown which will probably have fists and feet flying in mosh pits for months to come. The song gets better after the first minute with some rumbling, atmospheric, dark melodies cruising over the pummeling chug arithmetic. "Infernal Mejesty" has some nice winding riffs and a nice progressive pacing. "Slave Race" begins with a punishing rhythmic pattern before condensing into its faster freak out section. "Le Serpent Rouge" is like punching yourself in the jaw 40 or 50 times. The title track ends the EP with some nice tech black metallic riffs thrown in, it's one of the better tunes here.
The EP sounds clear and each instrument is distinct, the vocals are sufficiently brutal even when shifting to the snarl from the grunt. These guys can play their instruments well, like many similar bands there is a massive untapped potential. Unfortunately I feel like it is too often squandered on typical pit breakdowns. The band is far more interesting when they move at a faster speed, though to be fair they had a few crushing, slower riffs. I think they're a good band to check out if you are a fan of stuff like Decapitated, Meshuggah or Job for a Cowboy. A nice cross-appeal to fans of various metal sub-genres. I didn't like all the songs on this EP equally, but there are some moments of true quality which shine through, in particular the final track. I think we'll be hearing a lot more from this band.