Review Summary: The logical follow-up to Nomadic, where everything that made the latter good is streamlined and honed.
It is not often that a band starting out as deathcore abandons its initial genre. Only a select few do, yet still tend to fall short - The Contortionist comes to mind with their rather unfocused sophomore effort to follow one of the greatest deathcore albums ever written. Transitioning is simply a very difficult process requiring quality ideas, and most bands are simply incapable of producing those. Fallujah is a hammeringly poignant exception to this rule, with their first deathcore EP being relegated amongst many fans to a limbo of sorts - forgotten and unplayed. And for good reason too, as only as soon as their debut album Fallujah abandoned the tired, clich├ę approach and came up with one of the most memorable takes on technical death metal in modern history of the genre.
Fallujah's ambient inclinations and the emphasis they like putting on creating immersive, dreamlike soundscapes have been defining traits of theirs since their debut album, yet never before were they as strong as on "The Flesh Prevails". For those who wonder if the album lives up to the very-well-received EP "Nomadic" - yes it does, and then some. Everything that made the latter good is streamlined and honed to the point of approaching perfection, with the emphasis on painting vivid, all-encompassing musical environments reaching an all-time high. The heaviness present on both of Fallujah's earlier offerings has been slightly diminished, but you can still expect frequent extended blast beat passages, creative drum rolls and growled vocals, so the death metal part hasn't gone anywhere. Still, the album has so much going on for it that you don't really care for the heaviness, you don't notice it nor do you care about it all that much. The emphasis is simply being put on something else this time, and it works perfectly. One has to wonder how only four people can create so many layers and self-complementing realms in their music whereas bands of six or even seven people often struggle with even coming close.
In between the band's trademark anthemic tremolo-picked motifs, we are as always treated to jazzy keyboard riffs and astonishingly capable solos, yet the melodies and harmonies themselves are better than ever, losing what little awkwardness and crudeness they may have had on the earlier offerings. This time around we've also got soothing lady vocals thrown in every now and then, a measure perfectly supplementing the lyrical and visual theme of sensuality that the San Francisco quartet chose for this release.
For Fallujah, "The Flesh Prevails" is undoubtedly a consummate offering, it gives the listener every precious sensation that "Nomadic" could, while sacrificing only the feeling of aggression and intensity that accompanied the "The Harvest Wombs" in favor of a much more mellow and relaxed mood. Like on "THW", there are two purely instrumental tracks, and every bit as good if not even better. Like on "Nomadic", there is a purely ambient track in the form of "Alone With You" - this time a full-fledged soft-electro song complete with vocals rather than an indeterminate ambient passage that was "Silent". This gives the album enough variety to create even greater replay value than the band's previous works - every listen of the album can be savored with anticipation. It shifts its drive as soon as you think it should, never outstaying its welcome.
To me it is certain that Fallujah are about to take the world by storm with the release of "The Flesh Prevails", as it perhaps marks the culmination of their upward slope of songwriting quality. You simply can't get much better than that. One can only hope they do not lose their edge on subsequent releases, though.
Album rating: 4.3