Flesh Over Flush: Fallujah Prevails

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I’ll be the first to admit that I occasionally judge a book by its cover. Or rather, I’ll judge a band by their tank tops worn by swoopy-haired, trend-of-the-week kids with their big ears. While experience and eventual listening have shown me that my assumptions are usually pretty accurate, I’ve also discovered that I can sometimes be a huge idiot who’s late to the party for some really great bands. Because of said tank tops, hair, and ears, The Flesh Prevails is my first experience with Fallujah. I thought about checking out their debut album and subsequent EP after I heard (and was blown away by) the pre-release singles from Flesh, but I decided to wait it out and sit through a front to back listening once the album dropped. As it turns out, I’m a huge idiot who’s late to this party.

The record kicks off with “Starlit Path,” a fantastic opener that had me immediately. The track builds out of the ethereal opening in a way that few “atmospheric” bands can hope to accomplish; it doesn’t feel like a contrast when the full band kicks in, it sounds like a perfectly natural progression that leads into the unique way they’ve built their sound. “Carved in Stone” follows down the path laid before it, albeit with a heavier-handed approach. They get heavy (and stay heavy!) under all the pretty stuff, like a hulking, menacing factory beneath a night sky. Continuing ahead to the partner tracks “The Night Reveals” and “The Flesh Prevails,” we learn some serious lessons in pacing. Fallujah is nice enough to beat you in the face with some real technicality, and then they back off just in time to open up another dimension of sound. “Night” is a roller coaster ride of progospheric brutality (that term is copyrighted, it’ll cost you a dollar per use) where the atmospheric conditions are, for the most part, set up by their use of harmony, counterpoint, and guitar effects. The same tools are used to create an entirely different feel in “Flesh,” with the lovely assistance of a female singer far off in the mist. The compositional ability showcased in these two tracks is a far cry above their imitators. May those bands whose idea of “atmospheric” is generic metalcore with forced ambient keyboards forever be flushed!

So how does one follow such a well-crafted first half of an album? With “Levitation,” of course, one of the brilliant singles we were able to jam before the album dropped. The rhythm section shines in the first part of this track, with bassist Robert Morey and drummer Andrew Baird twisting through the ether at different, yet complementary, paces. When the full band kicks in, we’re led through some fascinating twists and turns while a guitar spirals (or shall we say…levitates?) overhead, adding just enough variety so that we really appreciate the full on tech-death punch we get later in the song. That last point is what sells this album so well, and this track in particular: just when one thing is about to get worn out, Fallujah takes a hard left turn and keeps your attention exactly where they want it.

In case you forgot for a stupid second that these guys are experts in the atmospheric realm, we get another pair of contrasting-yet-complimentary tracks in “Alone With You” and “Allure.” The first is in full on space mode, with another welcomed appearance of female vocals. I don’t partake myself, but this seems like a good time in the album to break out the illicit substances. The track seems to, like, float, just beyond, like, your reach, man, until it breaks into “Allure,” an instrumental effort that absolutely satisfies. In lesser hands, these two songs would have been pure filler material: tracks that add some spacey, meaningless time between the stronger songs. But Fallujah have, by the logic of that expression, really good hands, and I know I won’t be skipping them in future spins. There is serious substance of another kind to be had here.

“Sapphire,” another pre-release single, reminds us that this is a metal band. And a really good metal band, at that. Just as I was thinking that the ethereal touch could back off in favor of the band, I reached the 1:40 mark and wanted to get my mosh on. Just when I was thinking that it might come back a little too soon, a fantastic guitar solo came in around 2:40 and kept us on Earth for a little longer. Just when I was thinking that I’m ready for another ride through space, the sound effects creep back in and we’re off.

The album finishes with “Chemical Caves,” and I must admit that this closer didn’t thrill me. It is by no means a weak track, but after an entire album of monumental singles and brilliant pairings, it doesn’t quite have the heft to bring it all together. Repeated listening may prove me wrong, and it’s a relatively minor complaint to begin with.

As a new Fallujah fan, I can’t accurately fit the album into the context of their career thus far. As a longtime metal fan, I can say that this album is a breath of fresh air. The pacing is brilliant, the sounds are unique, and boundaries are completely non-existent here. Most refreshingly, it is miles above what other bands claim as “atmospheric.” We get the keyboards and synthscapes we expect, but we also get complex counterpoints built off beautifully contrasting ideas, we get excellent control of song form and layering, and we get extremely talented players who know how to balance effects, technicality, and musicianship. It absolutely works as a front-to-back album, or you can pick and choose some of the killer standalone tracks in short bursts. In addition to the closer, my other very tiny complaint would only be that the drums sound a bit thin in the otherwise great mix. I’m predicting a very high ranking on our year end lists with this one.

.5/5 FLUSHES

The Flesh Prevails is out now on Unique Leader Records. It can be purchased on iTunes, or as a physical copy here.

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  • W.

    I actually liked Chemical Cave.

    • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

      You were always the rebel, Dubya.

      P.S. I like it too. I’m rebel as phuqq.

      • W.

        I’m going rogue just like that Sarah Palin!

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          …..

    • the structure of it reminds me of jazz. you’ve got some trotting around here and there for a few minutes, maybe a little looser playing among all the musicians; then at one point they start finding each other and the jam begins. then for the final portion of the song they’re all in sync with each other and firing on all cylinders, giving the listener something to latch onto.

    • Stockhausen

      GET OUT.

    • RomuluxX

      Chemical Cave is what Axl calls his butthole.

      #AxFacts

  • But where are the breakdowns?

    • Negrodamus

      NO BREAKDOWNS, NOT MUSIC

      • Paris Hilton

        Really, though.

      • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

        NO BREAKDOWNS, NO RESPECT. BREAKDOWNS OVER EVERYTHING.
        xToiletxOvxHellx

    • Mr. Bojangles
      • Howard Dean

        I’m totally visualizing that last stick figure as the lead singer for Harm’s Way. He’s about to rip his sweatshirt off and scream Byyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

    • RomuluxX

      They’re reinventing the genre so hard that they have fuse-ups instead of breakdowns

  • They’re talented, but from the few songs I’ve heard, I just don’t really care for them. It’s fine, just not the earth-shattering, genre-changing album some are making it out to be.

    The songs feel like

    “Hey, let’s put this weedly deedly part in!”

    “Yeah, and then let’s do the ‘dunna dunna dunna’ part in for like 3 seconds and then back to weedly deedly!”

    A little too all over the place for me. Vocals are nothing special too and almost make me wish they were just an instrumental band.

    • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

      I agree with your point on the vocals. They seem to be there more for texture than anything else, and I could do without them.

      • If anything, I feel like it makes the songs more generic.

        • Christian Molenaar

          I can get behind this. I definitely enjoy the album but I feel like the lack of choruses or any defining sections to give personality to each song along with the frankly pretty monotonous vocals tends to make the songs run together. If they changed up the vocals or the guitar tone, or just did something unique to each song so one could tell them apart this album would be just about unflushable for me.

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            This is exactly how I feel. The vocals are just very monotonous, and it probably sounds super shitty of me to say this, but I feel like the audience for this type of music would grow exponentially without the vocals. My girlfriend could totally go for something like this if it weren’t for the growling. Here’s to hoping they release an instrumental version sometime.

          • Stockhausen

            I thought about saying something about the vocals in the review, because I agree that they are very generic. The songwriting/overall feel balanced it well enough for me not to worry about it too much. I think he at least had a good idea of when to back off, because there are some times in the album where we don’t hear his voice for a long time. By the way, I also thought “Hey, I bet my wife would like this, minus the vocals.”

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            I agree. I don’t think they detract at all, but I don’t think they add much either. And they’re done in a tasteful way which, like you said, backs off when the instrumentation should be the star. Me gusta.

          • Stockhausen

            Totally. I would have loved some well done cleans in the mix (in addition to the female vocals), but if it’s not the right quality it can totally ruin the effect.

          • the night reveals has a chorus. right before dat bass line!

          • Christian Molenaar

            I think every song has some kind of refrain in it, the problem is I can’t remember any of them. This album’s good but I feel like the songwriting isn’t too memorable, which in my eyes keeps it from being the unflushable masterpiece everyone else sees.

          • then we have reached a gentleman’s disagreement.

            how this would go on metalsucks: “you don’t understand music, fucktard! this is a masterpiece. go enjoy your fiv5 finger death punch!”

          • Christian Molenaar

            Like I said in another post, I can’t even think of a single time I actually discussed music with anyone over there. I mean, I had to have talked about metal at least once on a metal site, right…?

          • now you’re among friends…

      • Gluteus_Maximus_Rage

        I don’t mind the vocals at all. With all the soaring, ethereal guitars, I kinda feel like the heavy, almost-monotone quality of the vocals acts as an anchor to the whole thing. If his vocals were as animated as the guitars, I think the whole thing would lose focus..kinda. Jus’ my opinion.

    • hey, good to see you here!! (sorry, didn’t notice until now)
      you’ve described how i feel about bands like Spawn of Posession, just a compilation of random riffs and ideas.
      i however, feel like Fallujah is one of the rare birds who have a clear goal in how they organise those ideas, and can accomplish said task.

  • Negrodamus

    I used to almost always check the comments first on The Site That Shall Not Be Named.

    In this case, I checked the author, read the entire review (nice, dude) and then came to check the comments!

    I’ll be listening to this in full over the weekend, very late to the game on this I know.

  • Usually when I get a new album I just throw it on my playlist and wait for the songs to show up on shuffle. This is the first album in a while where I haven’t done that and have instead listened to it in its entirety, multiple times.

  • RuIN?

    Remember when Anthrax used to put ‘mosh part’ in the liner notes along with the lyrics? Fallujah is the type of band that I really want to enjoy and do but in smaller doses because I want a few more ‘mosh parts’ in my metal. Excellent band and is going to do some damage I think. Bonus point in my book for being Bay Area, but they aren’t quite Bay Area enough for me.

  • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

    Before I started listening to Fallujah I was never a fan of death metal or tech death, but this band has an incredibly interesting sound that pulls me in, and has started me on the path to all the amazing death and tech death I’ve been missing out on. Great review!

  • Mr. Bojangles

    lolbutts.

    -Mr. Bojangles

    • Matt Damon

      MATT DAMON

      • M Shadows

        M Shadows!

        • Mr. Bojangles

          Maow?

          • M Shadows

            eek!

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            i saw you doing some damage on the site that shall remain nameless. I like to go over their and lay down a big troll shit now and then through out the day.

        • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

          Sweet stage name, bruh.

  • Deputy Dipshit

    TL:DF
    (Tonal Laxative; Didn’t Flush)

    • CyberneticOrganism

      *flushes anyway for cleanliness*

    • Howard Dean

      Review: 0/5 flushes!
      My day (full of meetings): 5/5 flushes!
      Byyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

  • Gurp

    Nomadic: The Full Length

    • Mr. Bojangles

      Pretty much.

      -Mr. Bojangles.

  • Steve Smithwick

    WAR STOCKHAUSEN.

    Nice review bro. I need to grab this album today.

    • Man you need to grab it yesterday!

    • Stockhausen

      Thanks dude!

  • Paris Hilton

    Last weekend I was stoned and had an awesome chicken fallujah with Chipotle sauce.

    • you used something other than sriracha?

      • Negrodamus

        I love sriracha but apparently there are hot sauce snobs on the internet that think it is garbage.

        • Christian Molenaar

          You called?

          • Negrodamus

            Stangry noise elitist and hot sauce snob defender?!

          • Christian Molenaar

            I like to think I’m not stangry, but elitist, yes, and a snob, yes.

          • Negrodamus

            I think I was actually quoting you as a “stangry noise elitist” lol I don’t think you’re stangry!

        • Paris Hilton

          Eggs fried in canola oil, brown rice, and Sriracha. Shit’s cash money for breakfast. There are few things I’m more passionate about than breakfast.

        • Mother Shabubu III

          I don’t think it’s garbage, but I think there are much better hot sauces and other spicy concoctions out there. Even thought it’s not a hot sauce, I prefer Pickapeppa sauce.

          • Negrodamus

            Can you buy that in your average run of the mill grocers? I don’t have the toughest palate for heat but I do enjoy a little bit of kick now and again.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            Pickapeppa? I get it at Stop and Shop despite it being a more unusual item. I found this Moroccan hot pepper sauce I love too.

          • Big Daddy’s brand High On Fire hot sawce:

            http://www.bigdaddysassburn.com/merchandise/add_item.php?id=9

          • Mother Shabubu III

            Looks pretty good. I happen to enjoy
            Professor Phardtpounders Colon Cleaner Hot Sauce.

          • i may have to order one of those! can you get it at Professor V.J. Cornucopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium and Great American Steakery?

          • Mother Shabubu III

            Yes! I picked some up before I visited Dr. Colossus on Death Moutain.

          • FalseKvlt

            I’ve had that at a seafood place in my town. Yeah man it’s pretty damn good.

        • Poop Mango

          I’ve honestly mostly avoided sriracha because of neckbeard-fedora dudes who bring their own everywhere and put it on anything they order.

          *pours sriracha on stack of pancakes* “So, like I was saying, the matriarchy…”

          • Negrodamus

            Really? I never knew it was for hipsters, I thought it had raised above that class into more mainstream popularity. It is good on a lot of things, too.

    • Mother Shabubu III

      Fallujah sounds like onomatopoeia for a sneeze.

  • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

    0/5 flushes from me. Didn’t even poop, just sat down and farted into the bowl.

    • Gurp

      Axl farts into the toilet and flushes it.

      #AxFacts

      • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

        Axl farts into glass jars, closes them, and lets them ferment on the mantle of the MS Mansion. Once they have matured to his satisfaction, he opens them up and takes a healthy whiff.

        #AxFacts

    • CyberneticOrganism
      • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

        Hahaha, WTF. I’m at work and wanted to hear what this was, so I turned up the volume on my computer a bit. Little did I know, the speakers that are apparently plugged into my computer are in my supervisor’s cube right behind me, so it played that sound in his area, haha. Very lucky he’s out to lunch right meow. lmao.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          You almost flushed your boss! BOOM!
          *explosive TV graphics*
          *opening credits of BOSSFLUSH*

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          on a side note flaccid has always been my favorite descriptor, I use it when reviewing just about anything, an actors performance, director, movie etc. Its just a perfect word for downgrading something.

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            I think we’re going to get along, you and me.

    • Hank Hill

      I recognize that handsome man

  • I’m listening to this album now for the first time on Spotify. The music is pretty decent but I’m going to be That Guy: this album would be enjoyable for me if the production wasn’t bricked and gross. The music’s pretty great but the final product sounds like ass and gives me a headache after three tracks. Do drums really need to be that buried in a mix? I mean peaking should come from the drum hits but instead everything’s mastered at full scale, clipping, and the drums are an afterthought.

    There’s no volume at all that this album can be listened to where the mix/master doesn’t sound like a heaping helping of stir-fried dogshit…which is a shame because the music is good.

    • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

      FLUSH THE HERETIC.

    • Yeah the clipping is freaking ridiculous.

    • Gurp

      I’m curious, Jay, you seem to know a bunch on this topic, do you work in sound engineering or is this knowledge something you acquired on the side?

      • On the side. It’s just personal observations from listening.

        • Gurp

          Dayum. That’s commendable.

    • RuIN?

      I’m listening on Spotify also. I just don’t hear the clipping that you are talking about. I think the mix is really good. The drums aren’t overpowering, that I agree with but an afterthought? I don’t hear it. The guitars are mixed and panned tastefully and the bass is right behind my nose while listening on headphones. The melody on Carved from Stone is tickling my right ear in the best of places. Just an opinion.

      • Well, I think the band shares your opinion because they approved the mix/master.

    • Stockhausen

      I don’t have the greatest ear for that, and I also listened to a downloaded copy (ordering a physical copy today). I liked how clear the guitars were, but I agree that the drums were buried.

    • Drilldo Pillow

      As with any stream, Spotify provides compressed files for mass consumption and can’t really be trusted for reference/evaluation of the master mix. I’m also curious about your setup, sound card, monitors, cans etc. I’m not crazy about the mix either, but I wouldn’t call it dogshit.

      (I’m a professional audio engineer)

      • Lossy compression (like MP3, AAC, or the OGG Vorbis format used by Spotify) has nothing to do with dynamic range compression.

        There’s no reason Spotify would get a different master than everyone else (except *maybe* the one they used for the vinyl.) Almost nobody can reliably ABX the CD with an iTunes version. The very few that can hear negligible artifacts that also have nothing to do with how the mix is going to sound. Even streaming Spotify at its lowest settings will not effect how the dynamic range or the drums are perceived.

        The band obviously wanted it this way because Zack Ohren himself said so in the comments here. http://www.angrymetalguy.com/fallujah-flesh-prevails/

        The equipment I used would also have little effect on my perception, but here it is since you asked: My iPhone streaming from Spotify @320 Kbps to an Onkyo 2 ch receiver to a pair of Polk Audio 3-way bookshelf speakers. I had to turn it down a bit more than I wanted to because it was already artificially loud. That’s most of my problem with the majority of modern recordings that are “Loudness War-mastered.”

        • Drilldo Pillow

          So it’s a low DR debate! Your comment didn’t mention that specifically. Low DR stuff usually compresses like hell anyway. Evaluating the master bassed on compressed files, streaming to an iPhone just seems a little backwards to me. I think the whole debate is silly thouth because it’s a solid album no matter what. Back in my day everything sounded bad and everyone loved it!

          • Listening to the CD will sound no different to me. No “Spotify version” is going to make the mix sound different and my iPhone is indistinguishable from my CD player.

            The encoding that Spotify uses (OGG Vorbis @ 320 Kbps) is transparent to humans. It can not possibly alter the dynamic range or the way the mix’master sounds unless Spotify was given an entirely different master to begin with.

            Bottom line is I thought it sounded like butt. I don’t know what your day was but if you prefer these types of masters to say a typical pre-1992 production then we’ll have to agree to disagree. The drums sound unnatural and everything else is too loud in the mix.

          • Drilldo Pillow

            I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree about everything. I think Vorbis eats low DR to all hell.

            Are you really going to not listen to this great album because you don’t like the way it was mixed?

            My day is all days; I am eternal.

            If you’re looking for natural sounding tech death drums you should probably check out…well…The Bad Plus………….

          • I may revisit it as background music but I’ll never pay anything more than my Spotify subscription fees for it.

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      looking up clipping now…

  • @Stockhausen:disqus you done good, son. i’m glad you reviewed it before me, cause mine would have went like this:
    “oh man, every song is so good! you just gotta listen to it, i swear you’ll love it!”

    • Lol this is exactly why I don’t do reviews. I would just be like omg its good omg this song is good to omg its all good omg guitar solo you should buy it and stuff.

    • SMOHLG

      How’d you do the @ thingy?

      • you’re SO close!
        type an “@” and then immediately start typing the name of one of your bro’s. a drop-down box should magically appear and try to guess who you want to name-drop.

        • SMOHLG

          I tried to tag Negbrodamus but it didn’t work. And no I didn’t spell it with the bro.

          • @disqus_4E0xQtrX2p:disqus just thinkin’ about ya…

          • Stockhausen

            @Smohlg:disqus iz total n00bz lolz!

          • Negrodamus

            Sup guys!

            EDIT: sadly, the @ thingy doesn’t produce a notification that I can tell.

          • Negrodamus

            I’m trolling back through this article trying to catch up with everyone. Yooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    • Stockhausen

      Haha. That’s how I started, so I forced myself to talk about each track.

  • UnamusedMusician

    That album art is mesmerizing.

  • Cock of Steele

    Dagnamdit! Being gone for several days with shitty internet connections, now to read ALL of the articles I missed.

  • Phuo

    Wait, this band has tank tops (and v necks im guessing?), swoopy hair, and big ears? But I own two of their CDs 🙁
    wts

  • SMOHLG

    Still waiting for my g’damn preorder! G’DAMN!!!

  • SMOHLG

    I generally prefer reviews to not be track-by-track, but overall this was a good review! Good job stocky!

    • Stockhausen

      Thanks man! I usually feel the same way, but once I got going it fell into place like that. And I heard those preorders are falling way behind, that suuuuuucks.

      • SMOHLG

        Just checked I should be getting it today! SQUEEEEEE

        • Stockhausen

          Dude I heard that squee all the way over here!

  • Wigger

    Wow, this site is like The Site That Shall Not Be Named but ten times better

    • SMOHLG

      That has been a popular opinion ’round these parts. As Negrodamus said earlier, I actually read the articles now instead of jumping to the comments.

      • Wigger

        I agree, I saw Negro’s comment and I’m exactly the same…It says something about a site when the main attraction is the audience as opposed to the actual writers

        • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

          And here we have the audience AS writers. Cool shyt!

          • Further Down the Metal Hole

            We need zzzzz to whip up a conspiracy theory about this, because I smell one!

  • Gorgasm

    What little i’ve heard of this has been crazy good.
    I’m going to have to track down a copy this weekend, hopefully on some wax.

  • RomuluxX

    My preorder just shipped yesterday and I’m doing my best to not listen until it gets here and OH MY GOD I’M GONNA CAVE I’M SO WEAK

    • Gluteus_Maximus_Rage

      Mine shipped yesterday as well. Couldn’t wait though. Spotify’d that shit as soon as it was available!

  • BoogerFlicker

    Gods! I just love your rating system.

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    Excellent write up. I’m also a new fan (actually have to thank MS for that, oddly enough) and looking very forward to submitting fully to the journey that is this album.

    Although I happen to be a partaker of said illicit substances, I strongly doubt it’s needed for maximum enjoyment. It’s been years since I’ve been this stoked for a release.

    I think after this one, I’ll turn my gaze to Sceptic Flesh and their back catalogue. Prototype sounded pretty promising when that dropped.

  • Fromwisdomtohate29

    This band grew on me like a fungus. I really enjoyed The Harvest Wombs, but this album is a different beast entirely.

    Carved From Stone and Alone with You/Allure are my top tracks. The latter in particular may be equivalent to audio sex. That last time I felt that way about a metal song was Cynic’s How Could I. Funny enough, I honestly feel the boys in Fallujah were listening to a lot of Focus and Traced in Air before making this album.

    This album gets no flushes. Just a lot of frilly toilette paper

  • Drewcifer

    Great writeup Mr. Stocks. I’m sure some of you discerning cats will recognize this clip from Mr. Show, but the relevance is that the characters name is pronounced “Fallujah.” I keep walking in on this record playing in my or my brothers room and screaming Dino Stamapopolous’ Line, “THERE’S FALLUJAH.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsTZ0eFJMLY