Review Summary: Fallujah's potential has been realised, almost...
It would be nice to call The Flesh Prevails
a “coming-of-age” record for Fallujah, their evolution from an unremarkable deathcore group into one of tech-death’s most novel exhibits has been nothing short of amazing, and yet – incredible as it may be – they still have room to improve. The Californian quintet’s sophomore album expands on last year’s Nomadic
in the most grandiose fashion imaginable, culminating in a delightfully rich blend of elaborate instrumentation and fluid ambient textures. The fluctuation between harsh and soft soundscapes as well as light and dark themes in death metal is obviously nothing new, but rarely have we seen a band so intent on merging the aforementioned traits and pulling it off with such authenticity. While Nomadic
merely hinted at their potential, The Flesh Prevails
feels like the band’s first genuine step into the development of something astonishing.
Fallujah’s strength has always come from them taking orthodox stylistic components and blending them in an atypical way. While in the past their tech death side has taken precedence over their other elements, The Flesh Prevails
corrects this by bringing their signature ambience out of its supplementary role and into the limelight. The guitar work combines the technical aggression of Augury with a soaring melodic edge in the vein of Obscura, and though capable of functioning unaided, Fallujah’s unity of the vehement and the delicate is much more rewarding. Abundant synthesisers and additional guitar lines are cleverly interwoven with the instrumentation, creating an experience that is not only adrenaline-charged but also highly immersive. Though the speed and complexity may initially give off an impression of aimlessness, subsequent listens will confirm Fallujah’s mindful approach to the album. The band resist the temptation of throwing as many ideas as possible at each track and instead focus on how to extract the maximum from the concepts that each track is built upon.
One of the many highlights on the album “Sapphire” basically consists of a singular idea being continuously modified until the track’s closure. The title track borrows the choral riff of “The Night Prevails” and acts as both an extension of the song as well an intermission for things to come. There are seldom any moments where the band delves into complexity for the sake of complexity, but one tech-death truism that they failed to avoid is the arduous production. Zack Ohren, the man behind Immolation’s sonic masterpiece
from last year has left his unmistakable mark on this album as well. Softer breaks seldom offer relief while bursts of energy feel comparatively subdued thanks to the overpowering drums and mastering sapping a great deal of the vitality from the songs. Nevertheless, the instrumentation and sublimity of the arrangements make up for the blights in the sound engineering, so one can’t help but wonder what could have been had The Flesh Prevails
been given the production it deserved.
The criticism levied at the album and indeed the band for the production may have been exaggerated, but it doesn’t change the fact that the album would certainly benefit from a little dynamic range. It’s true that an uncompressed version of the album is circling between reviewers for the sake of comparison, and so it boggles the mind as to why the powers that be elected to release this one. One can only hope that they come to their senses and allow us to hear the album as it should be heard, because as far as content is concerned, The Flesh Prevails