First came Colors from Between The Buried And Me. Then, the advent of Tesseract and Animals As Leaders. Metal reached even more into the spotlight with Deafheaven’s 2013 release Sunbather. With The Flesh Prevails, Fallujah picks up this torch of quality metal and takes it a few more miles toward that supernal realm of high art. Take note! I’ve been wanting to use the word “supernal” for awhile, and this album was what finally called for it (“supernal”—of or relating to the sky or the heavens; celestial).
This album is a triumph. It’s one of the most brutal death metal albums ever. It’s also melodic, warm, and stoney—I could have a wicked hangover and still enjoy this album at high volume. It’s overall tone is just so complete—simultaneously dense and light; simultaneously brutal death metal and atmospheric jam music. The unintelligible death metal growls by vocalist Alex Hofmann actually find their natural place in the music; they’re present when they’re needed, and willing to step back when the mood dictates an instrumental passage. The result is an incredibly accessible death metal album that never overextends its welcome.
The death growls drop out for minutes at a time, and unlike Sunbather, very good use is made of these more quiet melodic periods. At first listen I was expecting a lot more technical riff-age from this album, in the vein of it’s single “Sapphire,” but they decide to fill a lot of the more important moments with black metal strumming and blast beats instead. Which is fine with me; it makes the brain-twisting technicality seem more intentional when it does surface.
The mid-point of the album lands on the melodic interlude “Alone With You”—samples, over-produced drums, and female vocals. This risky move (risky for a metal band trying to be super brutal, at least) fits into the album just fine, but the sung line, “I could lay here forever, alone with you” is robbed of any lyrical context, being the only decipherable words in the entire album. Maybe that’s supposed to make the line more profound… If that’s the point, I missed it. “Allure” is another track completely devoid of Alex Hofmann’s vocals, but completely full of the rest of the band shredding up a storm. It serves as a great segue into the opening notes of “Sapphire,” the crowning emotional statement of the album.
There’s no posturing here, and I think that’s why I enjoy this album so much. I mean, it’s metal! EVERYONE postures; everyone tries to be everyone else. The Flesh Prevails certainly wears its influences on its sleeve, but when set against the rest of Fallujah’s discography, you can see a journey of increasingly honest self-expression. They’re becoming less and less an intense death metal band, and more and more Fallujah—which happens to make them an even more intense death metal band.