FallujahThe world has been waiting for a band like Fallujah. That’s what the band’s vocalist says. So understatement in the music seemed an unlikely outcome in the case of “Dreamless”.

Wow. Well I have to say this oeuvre from the San Franciscans is striking. “Dreamless” is a full-fronted tech death metal assault, djenty, progressive and mind-expanding. This band has something to say. Technical it is, but so it is pure and clear, except for the vocals where ferocious growls intermingle with dream-like choruses. What I’m hearing is a mix of Uneven Structure, Meshuggah, Mastodon and Zero Hour. Hell, I’m in another world listening to this. It’s a thunderous world of technical triggers but with sheer darkness and delicacy. Skilful guitar work and jazz-like interludes do not detract from the core power and intensity which give us the strength to be swept through majestically dark scenes. Only when we get to the title track is there a change of mood, as the keyboard player and fellow instrumentalists take us into a near-cosmic, almost mystical world of adventure. But as with all the tracks before, it envelops us and plunges us into a world of magic and technical invention. From this we go to the exotic and dark world of “The Prodigal Son”, another rip-roaring tech feast. The shuddering power is broken momentarily with the ambient “Fidelio”, but after a teasing start it’s back with the customary explosive imagination with “Wind for Wings”. There is a quirky side to Fallujah, and it comes in the start to “Les Silences”. There’s a feel of Peter Gabriel about it, but it spreads its wings and we have a dream-like expanse with pattering drums, waves of electronic sound and suggestively whispered lyrics in French. It’s darkwave magic, which captures the soul and the imagination. When I heard the power of “Adrenaline”, I couldn’t have imagined that eight tracks later, I’d be listening to something so differently majestic and inspiring as this. And so to the final track “Lacuna”. The atmosphere builds up, and as befits this band who know how to create a sense of climax and occasion, raucous vocals and darkness are complemented by technical wizardry, progressive offshoots and that now familiar combination of enormity and subtlety.

The vocalist is right. “Dreamless” is utterly brilliant.

(9.5/10 Andrew Doherty)