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Running towards the light. - 65%

GrizzlyButts, March 27th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Nuclear Blast Entertainment

As conquering an endless array of art with a great shining asshole as your guide can begin to erode the senses, any opinionated man would naturally hone their knowledge beyond comfort and beyond reason. Here the great chasmic quadrant of tastelessness that pervades ‘metal’ sub-culture presents as the deathcore transcendent, what I see as the least compelling void I’d deny succor feverishly if not a torn lamb upon guillotine seeking solace. What was the ruin of brutal death and melodic metalcore spirals out of control as the hybrid dearth, the deathcore moderne as it were. I long spat upon its malignant presence at festival, and legacy artist bills, until I resigned to lose perspective and avoid the MySpace-core cursed trends as they developed. Where you fall on forms of metalcore surely depends upon where you draw the line of taste in hardcore adjacent generations; I personally begin to lose all interest beyond the millennium and experience nothing but headache for the chugging, screaming morass of non-statement and feigned angst that has followed. Successive generations sickened me as they weaseled away from the (soon) socially unacceptable trend of deathcore variant towards the ‘safe’ world of technical death metal and as such Fallujah and bands like them represent an evolved sort of war drum in an opposing army. I carry no nostalgia for their early work, I arrive upon ‘Undying Light’ having never heard a single Fallujah song and I’ll exit their space with no desire to turn the clock backwards. Why then, have I enjoyed this wretched gloss so much and so… easily?

I’d more or less end up blaming Snapcase after a few weeks of examining the gentle suction of ‘Undying Light’ upon my mind. They the finest post-hardcore kicks of the late 90’s and early 2000’s that would warmly pull me away from the anger of hardcore towards the art of it before they dissolved would also prepare me to dumbly accept such a thing outside my sphere. To deny entry to Riviers of Nihil last year took some doing, as they were such darlings and under the guise of progressive ‘death’ metal found subtle avant-anything could ferret its way into the extreme metal cult mindshare; For my taste a band like Inanimate Existence does a much finer job with ‘feeling’ that could suspend disbelief and no ‘core’ tendency in sight but, I digress; So, then what is the missing piece of the puzzle? Cynic is undoubtedly the transgressor of worlds that when presented in a live setting stuns to a great bodily numbing and this is where I set taste aside for the comfortable place that extreme progressive metal can create for the exhausted or over-driven mind.

No useful balance is created between anxietous technicality, brutal shouting, and showers of echoing atmospheric lead guitars. The feeling is never clear as ‘Undying Light’ plays with surrealistic guitar acrobatics, all too subtle rhythms, and monotonous shouting that is pushed far back in the mix. That is undoubtedly the ‘art’ and the point of the record, if you can for a moment entertain an alternative to sheer ineptitude, to create a shimmering glow-filled sphere of progressive death metal atmospherics and contrast it with chuggy, skittering deathcore riffs and rasping shouts. No, it isn’t necessarily ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ as much as it is Aegaeon-esque but even then there is something decidedly ‘post-‘ entirety of that technical/progressive deathcore stuff (Kardashev, Abiotic, etc.) that I’d just as well skim right past. It isn’t such a grotesque beauty but a very safe and inoffensive record that relies on repetition, a single sweet spot repeated throughout the record, to laze the listener into a pensive state. What use is this sort of music to me?

It has the same appeal as a modern Deftones record does, a look at where music has gone crook-necked while I’ve kept my head in the sand caring only about the niches and riffs that are most valuable to me. I’m in no way self-conscious of listening to any style of music and giving it a fair chance, every poorly-conceived self-plagiarizing sub-genre has its prime moments though I am not sure I’ve arrived upon one with ‘Undying Light’. Why then does it persist in my ear, an unfinished bit of ‘work’ that demands my thoughts? Consider it a raven pecking away at my sanity, gnawing at the walls and raising every follicle of my being into a state of agitation that’d vibrate at such a pace I begin to float and hum until bursting into a great ball of light, burning the world around me. In other words, the value is entirely in the meditative (‘easy’) quality of the atmospheric lead guitars and the rest is mixed so far back that it becomes inconsequential, almost background music for the atmosphere involved. At the end of the day this is ‘accessible’ music for my own standards and I found myself curious and listening despite never being touched or challenged by Fallujah.

So, I am not immune to a memorable lead guitar line, much less a 45 minutes of them. “Last Light” has a brimming, golden introduction that reminded me of later Alchemist (Australia) and once I’d made that connection I understood the proper mental-link I’d sought earlier lay in the progression of that band and my undying appreciation for them. With the puzzle of ‘Undying Light’ unlocked, Fallujah begin to wither in my mind’s eye as I search for an affordable ‘Spiritech’ LP. You, likely a mildly curious technical/progressive death metal fan wondering why I’d write about this album, can find your own path away or towards this album and I have no meaningful recommendation for it. It captivated me with some surrealism and progressive curiosities and left only a slightly more (and briefly) relaxed mind. Mild recommendation. For preview I’d suggest “Dopamine” if you’d like a slight Gojira vibe, “Last Light” for something catchy, and “Sanctuary” for being one of the only songs that even vaguely resembles prog-death metal.

Attribution: https://grizzlybutts.com/2019/03/20/fallujah-undying-light-2019-review/

A new direction. Not bad. - 77%

Mailman__, March 15th, 2019

Three years after “Dreamless”, the technical/progressive death metal band Fallujah is back again for another atmospheric album. However, this time it isn’t very technical or progressive. It’s actually pretty much just atmospheric.

Think Irreversible Mechanism’s “Immersion” but with shorter song lengths, less progression, and signed onto a significant label such as Nuclear Blast Entertainment. That’s Fallujah’s latest effort, “Undying Light”. This isn’t meant to slander the album in any way. It’s actually quite enjoyable. It’s more enjoyable than Irreversible Mechanism’s latest effort, that is.

Despite the obvious change in sound, “Undying Light” is a good album. I’ve always been a sucker for atmospheric death metal when there’s a clear balance of death metal to atmosphere. This album is like that half the time. It’s one of those albums that is pleasant to listen to and that’s about it. It’s a lullaby for a death metal fan.

The album never really gives the atmospheric thing a rest, and the technicality is pretty neutered. “Hollow” and “Sanctuary” get technical, but it’s not nearly as technical as I know this band can get. “Hollow” also has some heavy riffage as well as a clean bridge all of which is connected nicely.

When “Ultraviolet” was released as a single, I thought it was bad. When I got the promo, I listened to the album and it all sounded fine. Then it hit me: this is one of those albums where the individual songs sound weak and unfulfilling unless they have an entire album backing them up. We all have those albums we listen to all the way through because it’s like one, long emotion; one, long song; one, overall entity. This is just another one of those albums.

I also get a shoegaze vibe at times. Sometimes I feel like I’m listening to Astronoid, especially on “Distant and Cold” and “Dopamine”. The album also starts to get boring in the second half. It starts to pick up with ”Hollow”, but halfway through “Sanctuary” my interest suddenly died. It isn’t until “Departure” when my interest is peaked again. “Departure” is the final track and my favorite on the album because of its heavy, groovy, and interesting riffage.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Fallujah, but I never hate what I hear when I listen to them, and this is no exception. However, when I want to listen to over-produced technical/progressive death metal like Fallujah, this is not what I will turn to. I could say that I would turn to this album if I wanted to hear something soothing, and I do see myself doing so.

Overall Rating: 77%

Originally written for metal-temple.com