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Febrallujuus? - 68%

MutantClannfear, May 12th, 2013

It really kills me to say this, but as much as I hate Fallujah for their boring first album and for being the embodiment of the general sort of shitty prog-nerdiness that's being introduced to the death metal and deathcore scenes, I reluctantly admit that this new EP of theirs is not only better than their previous endeavor, but surprisingly decent. This is really the last thing I would have ever expected to enjoy, aside from maybe "Born of Osiris cover the sound of your loved ones being murdered", and I totally came into -Nomadic- expecting the same sort of bullshit I got out of The Harvest Wombs. The band have polished their sound quite a bit and the resulting product is actually pretty interesting to listen to.

Okay, the first thing you need to know about this release is that it's pretty much equal parts djent and tech-death. In the time since The Harvest Wombs, Fallujah seem to have concluded - accurately, in my opinion - that the best way to achieve the atmosphere they've been seeking all this time is to cut out the sheer banality of undiluted noodlefuckage and replace it with jerky, chunky djenty chugs. I'm not too familiar with many names in the djent scene, but I think it'd be fair to say that a lot of these new influences have been ripped from the French band Uneven Structure - while they still lack the clean singing that that band utilizes, they've introduced the djenting of that band, and a lot more groovy clean sections, where the guitars will diddle away on simple yet layered waves of riffs while warm ambient sounds hum in the background. In addition to that, the general feel is the same between -Nomadic- and Februus; in both albums, melodies work in a clear sonic space while the "firmament" of the mix, so to speak, is doused in reverb-laden, high-pitched melodies which proceed to act as a blanket for the rest of the music. Fallujah even seemingly borrowed from Uneven Structure's propensity towards outright ambient, with the second song "Silent" sounding quite a bit like the second disc of Februus, which is exclusively ambient.

The songs have quite a bit of flow to them, and manage to not sound too disjointed like a lot of tech-death tends to. Deathcore breakdowns are totally out of the equation here, having been excised from the music entirely. But groove is still present within the music in the form of Fallujah's breed of djent, which sounds like a more organic take on the riffs from Chaosphere (think of chuggy sections which aren't exactly complex in terms of time signatures, but cave in on themselves in a flurry of chugs and skip for a moment before collapsing into another groovy set of rhythms). The technical death metal riffs are still here, but the banal type of super-generic techy riffing has been toned down to some extent, what remains has been noticeably improved, and there are even a few instances of the type of tech-death riffs which would be right at home in a Gorguts or Ulcerate song.

The thing about the tech-death riffs here is, Fallujah are not the type of band who are attempting to conjure the vastness or atmosphere of space with their music. It's just stereotypical "cosmic" or "universal" atmosphere, like the kind of vibes you'd get from a New Age composition... the feeling of being in touch with everything in existence. While I can sort of get behind the idea of technicality within a "spacey" atmosphere like Rings of Saturn's, Fallujah's music stands best as just a static monument which radiates a bunch of glowiness and light. I'd be totally fine with just hearing walls of pretty sound cascading down from the band's music, but when the band fire up the death metal riffs and blast beats it kind of takes me out of the moment. Fallujah's vocals (primarily a rougher, more individualized version of the mid-pitched growls on The Harvest Wombs mixed with the occasional weak, dry deathcore rasp) fit fine into the djentier parts, so it's not like they need to be removed, just the ostentatious tech-death. This music begs for complexity in the form of layers, not fucktons of notes, and Fallujah still don't appear to have fully realized that.

The cosmic sort of atmosphere is well-done for what it is, but it still feels a bit too stereotypical to be what I'd call "beautiful" (though to be fair, I'd say the exact same thing about Uneven Structure); and while you'd think an ambient track focused around this type of material would be stellar, Fallujah's take on it is too sonically static in that it's pretty flat in terms of layers and neither builds nor subtracts anything during its running time. It also feels a bit awkwardly placed - Uneven Structure use their ambient songs on Februus as a sort of epilogue to the main album, but here, as a five-minute piece, it feels like too long of an interlude and sort of breaks the momentum between the two main songs here. But the core material is still surprisingly good, and while I wish that at this point Fallujah would just drop the death metal influences entirely and become an Uneven Structure clone, this is a passable release - not to mention absolutely stellar in terms of modern technical death metal, but that's a story for another day.