Cold Chills: Fallujah’s Flesh Prevails

  • David Lee Rothmund

Most metal isn’t moving. I can’t feel it. It doesn’t often draw out my innards or give me goosebumps. Instead, I just decode it. My enjoyment comes from the meticulous disassembly of something mechanically complicated, like a pre-built K’Nex set or the German language. So naturally, I like technical death metal. I wank to Archspire and I bow to Soreption. But it’s all rote, tasking work for me. Those bands are just manufacturers of tools for a task I quietly and lonesomely enjoy.

But then an album appears that can light up my entire nervous system. Deafheaven’s Sunbather was the last one to do it, reaching into my pants with cliff-edge shoegaze, stoicism, and a palpably human vulnerability. It was brilliant. But it was the Apple product of metal — I couldn’t really take it apart, and I sure as hell didn’t know how it worked. It just did, and it stirred my insides without permitting me to tinker.

Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails, though, is the first album to weld heart-wrenching shoegaze sensitivity to the complex cyborg insanity of tech-death.There’s a sonic representation of its breathtaking album artwork: a stylized, skin-shedding reach for something magnificent. The opener, “Starlit Path,” peels onion-layers of dense post-production and single-note, tenor-bursting bends. From its cautious first seconds to its drum-rolling outro, it feels transient and mobile, telling the story about how the bits of pieces of two separate genres can be rearranged into something bespoke. Next, a mighty comeuppance happens with the three-note diddly in “Carved From Stone” which explodes at 2:18 to become a One True Amalgamation of heaviness and passion and sauce.

Here the atmosphere/singularity of shoegaze finally exists symbiotically with the technicality/deconstruction of tech-death. This is how The Flesh Prevails distills and delivers — not by toking out of reality or just trying to bend time with triple-blastbeat dazzle riffs, but by reconstructing ideas about how these two styles should quintessentially sound. It’s by widening the crevice between two distinct types of noise to stuff your brain deeper into a newly fashioned one. The Flesh Prevails thereby rips into your mind and reprograms to operate at a higher, more omniscient level. It earns your attention by withholding insanity in lieu of temptation — its grooviness lures you into a trap so the heavy moments can trance you into confinement. You pop out on the other side with a higher realization of why you’ve had cold chills for the past 42 minutes. Frisson finally makes sense.

So The Flesh Prevails is not just a new album, it’s a new way of doing metal. It’s an unabashed, psychotic, unregulated experiment of the wanton fusion of two separate strains of noise. It succeeds via the best bits of both and creating something uniquely greater than a simple summation. It animates the inorganic. It is architectural artwork. And with all its impressiveness, it feels true and pinpointed and ecstatic. In short: It’s pretty much the doctor’s hammer thingy for your soul. Oh, and how it works — if you have a soul: The Flesh Prevails will get you bombed and ripped, and before you know it you’ll be holding the biggest invisible oranges of all fucking time.

Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails comes out July 22 on Unique Leader. You can stream the track “Sapphire” here and pre-order the album here.

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