Review Summary: Another Bay Area band to watch out for!
The Bay Area metal scene, a place widely attributed as a starting point of American thrash metal and death metal. With bands like Metallica
(among other) being just a few of the band originating from this place one would think it’s a brewing place of good music and talent. It is from this famous place with a rich history of great and many successful musician the following band named Fallujah
, is a quintet hailing from the San Fransico Bay Area and existing out of the following members:
- Vocals: Alex Hofmann
- Guitar: Scott Carstairs
- Guitar: Rob Maramonte
- Bass: Rob Morey
- Drums: Andrew Baird
As to be expected from a Bay Area band Fallujah
falls under the death metal category, if we are going to keep it simple at least. Unlike their EP, which was a deathcore release, they now choose for a more progressive metal approach and the core influences are mostly or even totally disposed of. Not only that, but each member’s efficiency with their instrument has taken a really big leap in the right direction. In other words, it’s best to forget everything you know about the band and open yourself up for one of the best modern progressive death metal release of the past few years.
When I thought about describing the general sound of Fallujah
I noticed this band has a lot in common with another progressive death metal band, more specifically the band Necrophagist
. Both bands showcase very proficient guitarists who are constantly giving the best of themselves and don’t shy away from soloing or delivering impressive leads, this while being bombarded with blast beats produced by a very competent drummer and all of this in a blinding speed. This is really showcased in the two instrumental tracks found on the album, more specifically “the Flame Surreal” and the title track “the Harvest Wombs”.
However, unlike Necrophagist
, who chose for a more neo-classical approach to the death metal sound Fallujah
chooses for a more spacey, jazz-fusion sound, a bigger variety in vocal styles and above all places way more importance on atmosphere. Imagine the bands Cynic
having a baby, that baby would be Fallujah
The vocals produced by Alex Hoffman aren’t too bad either, instrumentally this album is nearly flawless, so why would the vocals disappoint. While the combination of lower growls and high shrieks is nothing new to death metal, I have to give Alex credit for having a great range on both different vocals styles and above all delivering both in a stellar execution with equal proficiency. His vocals easily skyrocket this already progressive death metal sound that above all is done right, to a higher level and are interesting the whole way trough.
Having said all that, not all is sunshine, flowers and smiles on the album. The most obvious flaw –if I’m trying to uphold an objective opinion- is that the lead guitar (which is layered above all other instruments even when they aren’t busy with a solo) can become very, very pretentious at certain moments. Most notably when the drumming slows down and the vocals aren’t there. I made a comparison to Necrophagist
earlier on in the review and unsurprising that band also suffered from the exact same problem. That being said, it isn’t album breaking in any means, but it can become tiresome after a while if you don’t enjoy it.
On the complete opposite side we could mention the total playtime, which while being a bit more than 44 minutes feels incredibly short. One the other hand, every song offered on the Harvest Wombs is of top notch quality and has a pretty distinct sound to them and none can be considered as filler. I however wouldn’t have minded an extra ten to twenty minutes added to the total play time.
A last complaint is about the bass player, while still competent he isn’t up to par with guitarists and the drummer. This is only a minor issue though as he isn’t always that audible throughout the album. He gets the job done, but don’t expect him to be of the same quality as the other band members.
All in all this is a very solid progressive death metal release that should be checked out by all fans of progressive metal and modern death metal. Knowing this is their first LP also leaves them with a lot of time to improve upon their sound and seeing the transition from Leper Colony to The Harvest Wombs gives me faith that these guys will not disappoint on that. What they did here is truly of a high level and almost made my jaw drop on the floor, this band is technical, melodic and brutal and all of that at the same time. I can pretty much say that this will be -without a doubt- another of the big bands coming from the San Francisco Bay Area if they keep this up! 4,5/5
- Every member of the band is very proficient at playing their instrument;
- Competent vocalist with both growls and shrieks;
- Great use of atmosphere, ambient and jazz-fusion;
- Great production value.
- The almost constant soloing from the lead guitar might not be liked by everyone;
- The bass player –while proficient- doesn’t show as much skill as the rest of the band and isn’t always audible;
- A 44 minutes playtime just isn’t enough.
- Becoming One
- Cerebral Hybridization
- The Harvest Wombs