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Fallujah

Tech-metal outfit Fallujah intensify their metallic dynamism on stunning new album, Empyrean. Built on an “all killer, no filler” maxim, the Bay Area-based quartet delivered just that on album number five. From video single “Radiant Ascension” and “Embrace Oblivion” to “Soulbreaker” and “Mindless Omnipotent Master,” Empyrean is breathtaking in atmospheric expanse and impressive in sophistication. Fallujah’s overhauled lineup has contributed massively to the level-up on display. Primary songwriter/guitarist Scott Carstairs and compeer/drummer Andrew Baird enlisted Archaeologist’s Kyle Schaefer and Evan Brewer (formerly Entheos/The Faceless) as their new vocalist and bassist, respectively. Technicians at heart but looking for old flames, Fallujah rediscovered their muse on Empyrean.

Since forming in 2007, Fallujah have triumphed over their challenges. Whether it’s self-administering the band, going to school, writing music, or working full-time, they’ve savored release of and diehard fan admiration for five albums in The Harvest Wombs (2011), The Flesh Prevails (2014), Dreamless (2016), Undying Light (2019), and their latest Empyrean. Indeed, diligence and creative enterprise have resulted in high-profile tours with Whitechapel, Suffocation, The Black Dahlia Murder, and more across North America, Europe, and Australia. Fallujah also prospered with critics in Metal Hammer, Allmusic, and Metalsucks. The group’s Billboard chart positions on the Top Hard Rock Albums (Dreamless, The Flesh Prevails) and Heatseekers Albums (Dreamless, Undying Light) prove that with every twist and turn, Fallujah’s fans are with them. Empyrean, with its revivalist spikes, bolstered atmospherics and high-powered production, is the greatest yet.

Empyrean is a specialist’s paradise. As a rhythm/lead player, Carstairs enters a league of his own. Tracks like “The Bitter Taste of Clarity,” “Radiant Ascension,” and “Eden’s Lament” illustrate he’s upped his chops and boosted the emotional outlay. Throughout, he’s careful about compositional placement and how his radiant, palliative leads complement Fallujah’s sapid landscape. Drummer Baird tastefully and aggressively holds down the fort, grooving and syncopating admirably on “Radiant Ascension,” “Embrace Oblivion,” and “Mindless Omnipotent Master.” Fallujah’s long-standing timekeeper has always been great, but on Empyrean, he’s superior. Right there with him is recently joined bassist Evan Brewer, thundering and bopping on, around, and against Baird’s foundation like a seasoned prizefighter. “Duality of Intent” is but one of Brewer’s standouts. Although known for his guitar work outside of Fallujah, newcomer vocalist Kyle Schaefer’s low-end and mid-range bark perfectly matches the existential threat-themed lyrics. Empyrean is Fallujah inspired, and as they approach their 15th year, the Americans couldn’t be better.

Venture into Fallujah’s exosphere on Empyrean. They’re waiting for you.

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