FEBRUARY 26th 2019
FALLUJAH: UNDYING LIGHT

Review by Anka

I am writing this review in total awareness of the fan feedback I have seen on social media following the release of a new song from Fallujah. I was intrigued to see some backlash, and I never for a moment thought it would be warranted. Call me a fool to form an opinion before hearing the album entirely, but I know Fallujah pretty well, having followed them since the early days, and I felt that their foundation is strong enough and no lineup change can drastically affect their music. And then of course, I know how the online opinions work, and how fast they form… Was I right to stick to my stubborn beliefs

For the most part, yes. Fallujah’s “Undying Light” is as good as it gets but you won’t get it if don’t let go of the expectation to hear a continuation of “Dreamless”. I know it’s a mental (maybe, ouch, emotional) exercise for lifelong fans of a band. But one can’t practically keep writing the same shit over and over again. Well… if you’re actually a talented musician.

“Undying Light” evolves into a solid dose of progressive death metal with way more punch and crunch, rather than the dreamy, atmospheric elements the band had accustomed their fans to. Not that these beautiful elements are missing, but they are either filling or blending in, instead of leading. The result is a heavy yet melodic, in-your-face rampage, driven by hardcore-influenced screams – new vocalist Antonio Palermo brings a totally different approach with his high register, shrieking vocals. His vocals are so solid though, versatile enough to render well to heavy parts, as well as adding to the atmospheric feel.

What the album is missing, and what might have freaked out some fans, is the compositional diversity within each song. There’s definitely less ornaments, less guitar-driven ambient soundscapes. It’s less intricate in a sense, but still satisfyingly progressive, where the drums and bass shine. And my god, they shine. From the very first song, “Glass House”, which is such a strong opener, you will get the feel of a shift in the band’s sound. It’s definitely a new sound but not too different - not pushing boundaries, but rather experimenting within them. That is not to say this album lacks quality. Songs like “Dopamine” and “Ultraviolet” are such beautiful, haunting songs and appeal to the emotional rather than the mental (read prog-nerd) side. There is some linearity in the tracks, but this is precisely where the mood elements stem from.

I feel that towards the end, the album switches to a more straightforward prog death style and it’s a great shift to prepare the ending on a high note. “Sanctuary” in particular is a great track, maybe a bit closer to old material in complexity and style variations, nevertheless wonderfully put together. “Distant and Cold” was a nice surprise with hints of shoegaze, but so good in its ambiental potential. Fallujah continued their story, be it in a slightly different form, both musically and as a band. It’s like “dialectal” Fallujah. Essentially you still get the message and the feel you’re used to getting from this band, if only you’ll allow yourself to listen.