Fallujah’s previous album “Dreamless” was just amazing, and I saw them put on a sterling performance at UK TechFest, so my hopes for “Undying Light” were high. Interestingly the band now talks of a “new era”.
Well it might be a new era but the sheer power and technical strength haven’t gone away. Structured technical metalcore would be the mundane description, but this is not mundane. The shadowy and heavy “Glass House” starts proceedings. This is more metalcore than I remember, no doubt in large part due to the new vocalist’s style. There’s a bit of Soilwork about it, I thought. It’s fine but what hooked me round Fallujah’s little finger more are these superlatively formed and sophisticated riffs and structures. The layers of heaviness enhance the epic flow. The breathtaking “Last Light” leads to the equally dynamic “Ultraviolet”. The guitar solos blend into the deep and dangerous progressions that Fallujah bang out like a natural process. “Ultraviolet” unusually dropped down towards the end, creating a mystical aura, and for a moment I was mildly disappointed that it didn’t continue into other unexplored territories. Fallujah seem to have decided to give us a collection of four minute songs. They pack a lot in. Whether leaving us gasping for more each time is a good move is for debate.
The songs themselves have great variety, which is unsurprising as the instrumental work is so rich. The vocalist gives his screaming all, but it’s what goes on underneath that creates the magic. “Dopamine” has a dark underscore, and indeed does most of the tracks, and an unexpected haunting vocal line to round it off. The mix is intriguing: on the one hand there’s a hardness and complexity without necessarily the technicality, while on the other songs indulge in dreamy progressive passages. “The Ocean Above” does this to perfection. But dreaminess is not softness, as the following song “Hollow” proves in spades. It can’t be soft when there’s heavy guitar work and the roaring vocals lurking around the lingering soundscape. I know I compared the sound of “Dreamless” to Uneven Structure at the time but the depth of this album brings me to make the comparison again. Technical complexity shines through, but it’s songs like “Eyes Like The Sun” which appealed to me more thanks to their driving force and build up, culminating in the stellar guitar work alongside the deep bass and drum sound. This is urgent and captivating, but never uniform as the echoing and darkly progressing “Distant and Cold” proves. In fact “Distant and Cold” has the qualities of an outro track. In fact the actual outro is “Departure”, which captures the raw and powerful qualities of this full-on album.
Once again, Fallujah have created a breathtaking experience of progressive heaviness in “Undying Light”. It is more direct than “Dreamless” but the layers of technical darkness make this into another supreme experience.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)