ALBUM REVIEW: Fallujah – Empyrean

Two of the four members who make up California-based progressive death metallers Fallujah are originals from the band’s inception in 2007 and the other two have put the finishing touches on their debuts, all of which culminates in Empyrean, a Nuclear Blast bellwether.

Originals Andrew Baird (drums) and Scott Carstairs (guitars) welcome in Evan Brewer (bass) and Kyle Schaefer (vocals) for a ten-song, fifty-three minute battle royale. The fact that half the band wasn’t on board this time last year is entirely a trivial matter. This is still Fallujah, through and through.


Schaefer slots in as organically as the latest diet fad found in the first few aisles of the local supermarket. The rancorous rhythm section allows him to showcase his strengths: stellar harsh shouts; deathcore-tinged raspy screeches; and a polished-yet-unforgiving equilibrium.


Clean vocals are tucked away on ‘Radiant Ascension’ and ‘Eden’s Lament,’ both of which house buzzsaw bass pedaling, frenetic finger tapping and blistering drums. Shaefer’s presence on the mic merely douses the already lit fire with buckets worth of gasoline.

Baird’s work at the kit at times feels like a jumbled mosaic yet still manages to sustain the charismatic record Fallujah evidently wanted to create.

Instrumentals are also given their due with the final pair of tracks, ‘Celestial Resonance’ and ‘Artifacts.’ The former is a seven-minute composition free of vocals but rife with eclectic organization and decadence. The latter is instrumental-heavy, allowing Schaefer to step back a bit.


Three years out from 2019’s Undying Light, Fallujah do away with higher pitched screams and focus more on rhythm sections that stand out and stand alone. The percussion is noticeably quicker, and the intensity increased. It wouldn’t be surprising if the newly formed foursome built a solid base from day one, because the obvious relationship between them is chock full of confidence, comfort and collaboration.

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8 / 10