FALLUJAH — Dreamless

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FALLUJAH - Dreamless cover
4.30 | 13 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2016

Tracklist

1. Face Of Death (3:30)
2. Adrenaline (4:21)
3. The Void Alone (4:54)
4. Abandon (4:31)
5. Scar Queen (4:04)
6. Dreamless (6:18)
7. The Prodigal Son (4:17)
8. Amber Gaze (4:32)
9. Fidelio (2:44)
10. Wind For Wings (6:14)
11. Les Silences (5:56)
12. Lacuna (4:53)

Total Time 56:14

Line-up/Musicians

- Alex Hofmann / Vocals
- Scott Carstairs / Guitars
- Brian James / Guitars
- Rob Morey / Bass
- Andrew Baird / Drums

Guest/Session Musicians:

- Tori Letzler‎ / Vocals (#3)
- Katie Thompson / Vocals (#4)

About this release

Released by Nuclear Blast America, April 29th, 2016.

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FALLUJAH DREAMLESS reviews

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voila_la_scorie
There are times when the cover art of an album is enough to convince me that I have to buy it, and even if I don’t totally get into the music after a trial listen on YouTube, I feel that artwork must be mine and I will somehow appreciate the album’s musical content no matter. I’m pretty open-minded that way. (snicker) So when I saw this album cover here for Fallujah’s third album “Dreamless”, I felt compulsively that it had to get into my collection.

The music is both simple and difficult to describe. Basically, it is heavy modern metal with aggressive blast beats, heavy guitar played both with speed and slower ponderous chords played at non-standard intervals in a bar. “Ba-downg, downg… downg… downg, downg-ba-downg…" There are more technical parts too which does make the performance more interesting. The vocals are that bellowing/roaring/growling style more commonly known as death vocals or death growl. It often sounds to me more like Beelzebub is trying to talk through a hurricane. There is, however, another factor to the music and this is what sealed the deal for me, so to speak. There is a lead guitar that either wails hauntingly over the aggressiveness of the rest of the band or it plays lead-like melodies of great dexterity. Okay, the guitar doesn’t play it; let’s give credit to Scott Carstairs or Brian James, the band’s two guitarists, though I’m not certain who takes the lead if not both.

Describing the music further, the rhythm guitar seems to follow one of two approaches: either a thrash-like attack on a chord or variations on a finger configuration based on a chord. My friend and I used to do this on our guitars back in the nineties. We’d play a standard bar chord but remove the finger of the lowest string alternately, occasionally using that finger to bend the string, all the while never changing the position of the other fingers. It sounded really heavy and cool but in those days we didn’t think that was a real riff and nobody would ever think to create a song around that playing style anyway. Well, in actuality it might not be as simple as I’ve described it but it still sounds cool. And these days, lots of people are doing this it seems. So basically we have much of the band going for full-on aggressive metal with those roaring vocals. But this other guitar really adds a layer of beauty that is quite ear-catching. I don’t know if this is a new trend among metal bands but it’s the first I’ve heard it. There are also moments where the intensity is dropped and clean, delayed guitar notes and chords add a new dimension. There’s also a song or two that feature soaring, aethereal female vocals which really adds a wonderful contrast, and one song that actually includes a more normal-sounding male vocal contribution.

There are two things to say in critic of the album. The first is that I find the roaring vocals too prevalent. A little more of non-death vocal style would have given the beautiful and haunting lead guitar parts more purpose. The songs with the female vocals sound the best in this way because they complement the higher guitar part while the gruff death vocals go with the aggressive rhythm guitar. And hey, if you’re going to take the time to write lyrics then why not be sure that they are at least to some degree discernable. I mean, near the end of one song, all I can make out is, “STRAAWWW. QUAALM!” Actually, I think this is the song “Scar Queen”.

The other point is that all but two tracks follow a similar formula. Yes, checking out any one song or two makes this album seem like a treasure of audio delights. But as I listened to the album the other morning while out walking and my thoughts became distracted, when I returned my attention to the music after a few minutes I felt I hadn’t missed anything. But I have to consider that this is the band’s third album and in many cases, it is the third album where the band have really found out where they want to be and some of the most highly rated albums in rock history have been the third album.

Two tracks are entirely different and they are “Fidelio” which features some simple but pretty piano with supporting music and a dialogue between a woman and a man about a dream she had (the album is entitled “Dreamless” remember?) and how now that she is awake she is back in reality. The other track is “Les Silences” which is more of an atmospheric electronic piece with drum programming and a man’s voice speaking in French. It is a rather intriguing track because it works very well and it delivers a distraction from the formula that comprises the 10 other tracks.

For a listen, you can find some songs on YouTube, and I think I would recommend “The Void Alone” because it includes the lyrics and the female vocals. I think it’s a pretty good album for adding some variety to my collection and largely for the combination of that ultra-aggressive style and that sometimes soaring, sometimes technical lead guitar. But in some ways I also find myself thinking that I still love the artwork more than I actually enjoy the music on the whole album. The cover just seems to promise more than what is actually present. Or perhaps just less bellow roaring would have improved my overall impression.
UMUR
"Dreamless" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, California based death metal act Fallujah. The album was released through Nuclear Blast America in April 2016. It´s the successor to "The Flesh Prevails" from 2014 and "Dreamless" features the exact same lineup, who recorded the predecessor. Fallujah was formed in 2005 and have received quite a bit of positive press through the years. They started out as a deathcore act, but have over the years shifted more towards a technical/progressive death metal style.

That trend continues on "Dreamless", which features a core sound that is best described as technical/progressive death metal with great focus on atmosphere. The deathcore influences are not completely forgotten either, and this is contemporary technical/progressive death metal rather than the 90s version of the style. The music on the album alternates between technical death metal parts and atmospheric progressive metal parts. The music is dense and layered and there is no rest throughout the 12 track, 56:14 minutes long album. Even the more mellow atmospheric sections feature many layers of instruments and vocals. When that is said, the music is still very dynamic and the contrast between heavy loud sections and the more low volume atmospheric sections works well. The vocals are predominantly unintelligible growling although there are some tracks which feature female choirs and one track which features male clean vocals. The growling vocals are of the type which get the job done, but not much more. They are to my ears emotionless and one-dimensional and they don´t bring anything extra to the music. They are just there.

The instrumental part of the music is technically well played, and especially drummer Andrew Baird deserves a mention for his adventurous and powerful playing style, but the many well played guitar solos and epic atmospheres that the band build, are also worth mentioning among the album´s assets. The compositions are well written too, but "Dreamless" is not an album where individual tracks stand out (except for a few ambient styled tracks), and after listening to the album, it´s not many tracks that I´m able to remember. More spins of course do the trick (at least to a degree), but the tracks are generally not memorable enough and don´t feature enough hooks. The material could have prospered from a bit room to breathe and slightly more variation between tracks, and the multilayered sound production also feels a bit overwhelming at times.

So upon conclusion "Dreamless" is to my ears a bit of a mixed bag (just as the case has been with it´s predecessors). The sound production is powerful, clear, and detailed. Obviously created by professionals (Zach Ohren, Mark Lewis, and Fallujah), and although I think the material lacks hooks, it´s objectively seen/heard also very well composed, and add to that high level musicianship, and you have what I would normally label a high quality release. Personally I´m just missing a bit of soul/bite. It´s all so slick, progressive, and polished, that you almost forget that this is actually extreme metal in some form. I miss rawness and aggression. When that is said a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is still deserved.
adg211288
There are a lot of interesting artists out there in today's death metal scene for a number of different reasons, but one group that I have found to really stand out for taking the genre into new places is US group Fallujah. Dreamless (2016) is their third full-length album. These guys started life as more of a blackened deathcore act, but boy have they evolved...

On the surface belonging to the progressive/technical death metal camp, Fallujah's music has an ambience to it to create a more atmospheric kind of death metal. It's territory long explored by black metal acts, but perhaps by its very nature hasn't really found its way into the more direct and aggressive death metal genre. Fallujah already proved to me on their last album The Flesh Prevails (2014) that they can make it work and while Dreamless doesn't break so much new ground for the band, it shows that the previous album wasn't just a fluke and that the band are still developing what is becoming very much a signature sound.

The key that makes Dreamless (and by extension The Flesh Prevails) work is that Fallujah don't continually force ambience on their listeners. It's always there adding a majestic spacey vibe but instead of being the main focus they allow it to flavour their music; music that during which they aren't going to be letting you forget that they're a death metal band at heart. There are of course some more ambient based tracks here that allow the album to have some periods of breathing space which work nicely and there are also some clean vocals, usually female, to provide a nice touch of additional atmosphere, but death metal fans need not worry about not getting their fix of riffs and powerful growls. Though if anything I'd actually have liked to have heard the female vocals used more often. I especially enjoy those by Tori Letzler‎ in The Void Alone.

While it is the more unusual elements that attract me to Fallujah's music they definitely deserve credit as a well playing technical death metal act as well. Dreamless is a great album on all fronts, though it does inevitably lack the same wow factor for me that The Flesh Prevails had due to not being my first experience with their music, so I actually kinda envy anyone hearing Fallujah for the first time with Dreamless though overall I do find both this and the previous release quite close in terms of quality. I do think that Fallujah have honed their song-writing somewhat though so for me Dreamless is the stronger album. Definitely another highly recommended release from these guys!

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