If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know that for the past five years I have been saying that FALLUJAH is among a small group that IS the future of metal. I had the pleasure of reviewing their last record Dreamless, and found it to be utterly brilliant. Simply put, this is one of my favorite bands out today. That said, it causes me incredible pain (seriously, I cannot stress enough how painful it is to say this) to tell you that I did not enjoy their latest effort, Undying Light, which releases March 15, through Nuclear Blast Records.
It’s no surprise that losing members can wreak havoc on a group’s sound. In the course of time between records the band lost their second guitarist and their singer. While they chose to replace the exiting vocalist, FALLUJAH decided not to bring in a second guitarist, remaining a four-piece. Whether the lack of additional guitars led to the change in dynamic is uncertain to me; however, the vocals are the biggest departure you’ll notice when tuning into the new record.
On previous efforts, the screaming vocals sat lower in the mix, playing out more like an atmosphere than a lead instrument, focusing more on low end death growls. Clean vocals, while more prominent as time went on, were typically delivered by guest singers. The vocals on Undying Light differ greatly, and are the one true flaw of the disc. New singer Antonio Palermo’s style is more akin to screamo, or maybe metalcore. His delivery is more angsty than calculated, featuring yelling and high pitch screams that sound more like shrieking. What’s more, the vocals are set in the front of the mix, making them hard to ignore.
And ignore is what I tried to do during my time reviewing this one, because, as it is with any FALLUJAH album, the main focus is the melodic and visceral riffing. And while the music on this one is still intricate and enigmatic, I didn’t bite as hard as I did on their earlier recordings. The songs focused more on chord progressions than riffs, with many of the songs sounding derivative. Or maybe I just couldn’t hear it through the vocals. Either way, this was not the record I was hoping for.
I know this is probably a huge bummer for you to read, and I hope you can trust me that I am incredibly saddened to be writing my review in this fashion. I listened to this album more times than I probably have any record I’ve ever reviewed, hoping that it would grow on me. But, much to my chagrin, Undying Light, will certainly be extinguished from my playlist now that this review is completed.
I am normally open minded with lineup changes and try to give new singers especially more leeway. However, the direction taken by the new vocalist is incredibly cringe-worthy to my ears. But, due to my love for the legacy of great records FALLUJAH put out in the past, I strongly advise you to disregard my opinion and form one of your own on March 15, when the new album hits the shelves.
STANDOUT TRACKS: unfortunately, none of them.