Fallujah’s New Album Is Their Most Dynamic to Date
The Californian atmospheric tech-death titans Fallujah are back with their 5th versatile album Empyrean. All of their song writing elements blend cohesively on this one and it is their heaviest yet. Putting forth some of the darkness from Dreamless and bright-uplifting melodies from The Flesh Prevails together it seems. But the addition of their new vocalist Kyle Schaefer and master-mind bassist Evan Brewer opens them to new soundscapes yet again.
Dynamics are huge on the album but it all just fits perfect together. With Schaefer’s vocals he provides at least four different vocal tones. The thing that is most interesting about them is that he screams in key sometimes it seems. It is never just one range throughout multiple lines, he is all over the place. Something that is extremely hard to pull off in death metal in general. He also has about two different clean style vocals that are very notable as well.
The album opener “The Bitter Taste of Clarity” puts you in the familiar outer space bliss with a slow build up with Scott Carstairs guitar lead that eventually goes to the whole band coming in right away with blast beats. The thing I love the most about most Fallujah’s first tracks on their albums is that it is jam-packed with all of their styles in one song. It usually has the most interesting transitions right out the gate and it’s a great sneak peak of what the album will hold.
The chorus riff on this track is catchy with an upbeat jazz groove from drummer Andrew Baird. The drumming throughout this album is the most varied to date from him. Nuanced fills, odd time signatures, syncopated cymbal work, and jaw-dropping blasting again.
“Into The Eventide” is probably the most memorable and overall best songwriting of the whole. The guitar tapping from Carstairs in the beginning leaves you wondering where the song will go. The chorus comes in early in this song as well. And then after a miraculous guitar solo an absolute crushing heavy riff happens. I can now picture the whole crowd headbanging in sync on this one live.
On “Eden’s Lament” which is one of the heaviest tracks of the album, Baird’s drumming shines the most here with accelerated tempos, variations and fills. Brewer’s bass lines are huge with slapping, thumping, and sick sliding around the verse and choruses.
The second to last song of the album is an instrumental called “Celestial Resonance”. A song title that is most fitting to the sound. I instantly felt out of body or not on this earth. The breathtaking spectrum of moods and key changes in this one pulls you to the ether time and time again. The guitar solo near the end evoked tears first listen for me. Also, a notable aspect of the album as whole is that it is Carstairs’ best soloing to date. Meticulous notes everywhere and virtuoso shredding brings their sound to new heights yet again. This song is one of my top three favorites from Fallujah now.
Another thing to highlight is that Tori Letzer and Katie Thompson’s vocals are on a few tracks again on this album. Creating even more beauty and energy to the songs. Even though there are new layers of vocals from Schaefer, with all of them together it fits very naturally right off the bat.
The last track “Artifacts” is the perfect way to close an album while still carrying the torch of all the sounds of the previous tracks. The keys in the background gives a soothing layer as well. An amazing guitar solo on this one too.
My only very small critique of this album is the mix of the rhythm guitar. Some of the mid-range to high notes are a little hard to hear first listen. It is not as high-end or clear as the mix of The Flesh Prevails as an example.
“Empyrean” overall gave me everything I love from Fallujah and much more. This is not just music to me. It’s medicine. It’s cathartic. And it will forever give me power in getting through life. And I want to sincerely thank each and every member of the band.
Buy Empyrean through Nuclear Blast Records or Fallujah’s Bandcamp and on all streaming platforms September 9th. You can also catch them live for their U.S. tour with Psycroptic starting September 11th at Whisky-A-Go-Go in West Hollywood, CA.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
Author: Tom Sundgren