Change, for the most part, is an inconvenient and scary thing. It’s even scarier when change is applied to tried and true formulas, like death metal. This has been the exact motivations of Fallujah, specifically in the pioneering of their brand of atmospheric death metal. The band’s 2014 release, The Flesh Prevails, proved to be a hit amongst fans and critics alike. While it wasn’t their first full-length release, it was definitely what put their name on the map. The pressure is on for Fallujah if Dreamless can simultaneously stand up to The Flesh Prevails, while still keeping us interested for the future.
If you are familiar with The Flesh Prevails, then you’d be quick to recognize the band’s signature sounds. Progressive death metal isn’t exactly a new subgenre, but it’s also not quite as widely recognized yet. Simply put, it’s death metal with all of the tropes that you know and love/hate about progressive metal. Fallujah does all of these but definitely puts a bigger emphasis on atmosphere and ambiance. In the midst of intense chugging and blasting, there will be heavy atmospheric melodies from both guitarists happening in the background. This characterizes most of the material they write, which is what also gives them an association with the name “atmospheric death metal.” The Flesh Prevails achieved all of this masterfully, which also sets the bar really high for their next release.
Now, I say all of this in preface essentially to prepare you for what you will hear in Dreamless. The reception of this album has the potential to be polarizing given that Dreamless is basically a full-on sequel to The Flesh Prevails. It seems that the band doesn’t offer too much more than what has already been presented. The second track of the album, “Adrenaline”, is probably the best way you could introduce Fallujah to any newcomer. From the get-go, frenzied drums set the pace for rapid-fire double picking, like any good death metal track should. But amidst all of these, the guitars also lay down heavy and dueling ambiance almost throughout the entirety of the song. The combination of those elements make for not only an energetic experience but keeps you engaged as the song progresses to hear more of where the environment is going.
However, here’s where Dreamless can become a little polarizing. Like I said before, all of these elements have been brought together before and done well on their previous album. So, this album will either be seen as a continuation of something incredible, or boring because it’s just more of the same. Not only that, but there doesn’t end up being a whole lot of variety in the album itself. These elements are really the only elements you will be hearing for the entirety of the album. It can possibly end up becoming similar to organized chaos which also lessens the memorability of each of the songs. Very rarely will a track fully stand out for good reasons, and even if certain moments do stand out you might be hard pressed to remember which song it was. Effectively, it ends up being monotonous and maybe sometimes hard to listen to all the way through.
I would say that if you are a fan of Fallujah, you can probably understand what I’m talking about. Personally speaking, I loved The Flesh Prevails, and I still happen to think Dreamless is fantastic as well. The musicality and technical abilities of Fallujah are through the roof and exemplified accurately on this album as well. Whether you think you may like Dreamless or are even a marginal fan of Fallujah, I would still highly recommend this album. But in order for me to present a critical view, I have to bring to light the monotonous tendencies of the album as well. It’s safe to say that you will like Dreamless, but you may not love it.