Fallujah – Dreamless


Artist

Album

Dreamless

Label

Nuclear Blast Records

Year

2016

For Fans Of

Misery Signals, Secrets Of The Sky, The Faceless

Summary

How much prog could a prog band prog if a prog band could prog?

Rating

70 / 100

For the vast majority of people, progressive metal is a lot like philosophy. There are those that totally get it, man; those that are on the fence about the whole thing, and those who whereupon hearing the slightest utterance of the term rage harder than a UPF member noticing a person of colour out in public. Progressive metal, or whatever other term is currently trending amongst the kiddies to categorise this style, is a truly fantastic genre for not only its musicality but also its production. And for our money, it is one of the best kinds of metal out there. Sadly, over the past few years, too many a band has thrown around the label, meaning it is now used to lazily describe any bands that use seven or more strings on their guitars.

Thankfully, Fallujah got the memo about what is and isn’t progressive in metal music (we don’t make the rules, we just enforce them) and as such, their third outing is pretty dang good.

Right down from the artwork, the lyrics, the tight performances, and technical instrumentation, in addition to the solid mix and overall production, the vast ambient/atmospheric elements, and the slightly longer than average songs; it all screams ‘progressive’, but the band do well to not rely on that tag too much as they bring in other metal and non-metal elements, with plenty of death metal moments (and even atmospheric electronica – yeah, weird mix, we know) thrown in for good measure.

It’s just a damn shame about those vocals…

See, vocalist Alex Hofmann‘s screams are low and brutal, sure, and the overall delivery here is solid, but we just feel that the technical instrumentals are the real bread and butter of Fallujah. Hofmann’s pronunciation isn’t quite the best at times and his highs are great but rarely ever used. Perhaps that’s so that they can lean more towards their death metal side, for whatever reason that may be, but with better vocal intelligibility and a far greater vocal range, it would greatly enhance what is already a great product to that next level: taking the simply ‘good’ right up to ‘genre-defining’. But on the positive side, his vocals are pretty damn solid and they do get the job done.

As for the rest of the band, well, where do we even begin? One could write a small thesis on the musical skill and intricacy of these songs, but we’re not going to – that’d be whack – so we’ll break it down to the individual parts. The drumming here is just so tight and the kit itself sounds so impeccable the whole way throughout the record. The use of various synth pads every now and then is also very well-executed (there’s that atmospheric electronica we were talking about before) and whether the guitars are chugging out low riffs or they are soaring high with those sweet leads, it’s some of the best you’ll find all year. Well, until the new Periphery album drops that is. All of the songs here are decent and some get very heavy indeed, like ‘Scar Queen‘. In fact, to quote one of this writer’s friends when speaking about Fallujah recently –“They’re heavy as dicks”. And we all know that dicks are pretty heavy.

Moving on…

But for just how heavy and intense this record can be, it is the more ambient and atmospheric moments that steal the show, to the point where we just wished this album was solely instrumental (or at least 90% of it). ‘Fidelio’, the title track and ‘Les Silences’ are fantastic soundscapes and they aren’t that heavy and they barely have any vocals in them, save for sampled vocals in the former and the sparingly ethereal vocals of the superb Tori Letzler in the title track. But the vocals used on each of these songs, a far cry when compared to other songs like our favourite example ‘Scar Queen’, are clean vocals and not screams.

Huh, sounds like you’ve got a case of the ol’ Deftones Syndrome – the lighter and more melodic work completely shows up the heavier material by a fucking mile. The only cure is to start an instrumental ambient side-project that sporadically release music and used photos of Norwegian mountain ranges, and images being superimposed onto faces, for its artwork.

We’re joking. Please don’t do that, Fallujah.

Conclusion

Fallujah are one of those metal bands that you show to any and all entitled wankers who say that metal doesn’t take any skill to play and that it can’t be “musical”. Because God knows that there is some exceptional musical talent here, more than most bands could muster. With that being said, it’s just a shame that ‘Dreamless’ is let down by an average vocal style that can’t match the heights or the diversity of the band’s actual music and the production. Now, we wait patiently until the fans come for our blood now that we’ve incurred their wrath by not giving this a 90 or higher.

Tracklisting

1. Face Of Death

2. Adrenaline

3. The Void Alone

4. Scar Queen

5. Dreamless

6. The Prodigal Son

7. Amber Gaze

8. Fidelio

9. Wind For Wings

10. Les Silences

11. Lacuna

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