San Francisco Bay-area atmospheric death metal band Fallujah release “Dreamless” Friday, April 29th on Nuclear Blast Entertainment. The CD may be titled “Dreamless” but there are plenty of lush, ethereal events going on thanks to the highly stylized guitar techniques of Scott Carstairs plus some great electronic sequences. Adding reverb-heavy, higher-octave melodic lines over slithery death metal rhythm guitars isn’t rocket science but Fallujah has found their niche.
Production-wise, an even balance has been reached between all elements as the tone-war has ended and the listeners have won. Track one feels like an introduction even though it is three and a half minutes long. It sets your expectations for the sounds coming in the next 11 tracks. The true Fallujah experience starts with “Adrenaline” and now we can hear the personality of Rob Morey’s bass playing. Tempo shifts and an underlying groove propel this song and I really can’t say enough about Carstairs’ touch. To my ears it seems care has been taken to construct webs of guitar melodies Instead of typical shredding.
Song-to-song continuity helps move these tracks along as though they are more than just one track placed after another. That shows thought went into crafting the order, another facet of musical maturity. “The Void Alone,” which has been available for months, showcases the vocals of Tori Letzler along with Alex Hofmann. I’m a big fan of this track and the next track “Abandon” which also features Letzler.
Adding a female voice to offset Hofmann’s severe growl isn’t a groundbreaking concept but here it sounds like it was meant to be this way. The composition seems to call for these voices rather than the decision being an afterthought. Props for the beautiful vocal harmonies on “Abandon.”
Andrew Baird gets a gold medal for the drumming on “Dreamless” because the precision is of such a high caliber it sounds automated; refer to “Scar Queen.” Some guitar tapping is happening during this song which is also worth mention; it’s not flashy but melodically fitting and providing a different timbre that treats the ears.
The title track operates as a set break, a halftime of sorts, to recap of what we’ve just been through. Plenty of atmosphere, whispered vocals, and another appearance of Letzler create a breathtaking six-plus minutes. “Fidelio” is a piano-driven soundscape with spoken word (voices taken from a movie?) which reminds me of Space Dye Vest (Dream Theater) until the hypnotic electronic drums appear and take the short track to a higher level.
What sticks out to me is that songs like “Wind for Wings” is an intentional composition as opposed to building blocks cemented together to form a song. And I think I just heard non-growled singing? The sounds in “Les Silences” kick the electronica style up a notch with lush envelopments of synths and sequenced percussion and again, another stunning track that will take the minds of some listeners to new corners- and really, what else is music supposed to do for us?
I’ve been listening to this CD for almost two weeks and have tried to remain objective but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in this case, therefore “Dreamless” earns 9 of 10.
1. Face Of Death
3. The Void Alone
5. Scar Queen
7. The Prodigal Son
8. Amber Gaze
10. Wind For Wings
11. Les Silences