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.
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 and Heatseekers Albums 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.
Throughout “Empyrean,” Fallujah surprise. Musically, lyrically, and with their bevy of guests, they add hard-to-describe depth and musical import. Vocalist Tori Letzler (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice) reprises her angelic role on “Radiant Ascension” and “Artifacts,” while Chiasma’s Katie Thompson also reappears to elevate “Embrace Oblivion” and “Into the Eventide.” Chaney Crabb of Entheos and Cyborg Octopus’s David Wu tender their considerable talents on “Mindless Omnipotent Master” and “Duality of Intent,” respectively. Celebrated artist Peter Mohrbacher (Serenity in Murder, Rainbowdragoneyes) replays his role on “Empyrean” as well. Truly, this is an all-star cast appearing on a momentous album by a band reaching beyond.
“From the beginning of this writing process and until the end, we painstakingly made sure every aspect of this record would blow away our listeners,” states Carstairs. “We meticulously scrutinized every riff and note choice. There has never been this much effort put into a Fallujah record as we did with ‘Empyrean,’ and the result is a truly monstrous record that we believe is the band’s best work by a significant margin. We showed you restraint on the last record. Now, let us show you what happens when we leave it all on the table.”
Venture into Fallujah’s exosphere on “Empyrean.” They’re waiting for you.