Despite several lineup changes, Fallujah, a technical and progressive death metal band from San Francisco, California, have continued to evolve musically, establishing a shining reputation in metal circles as one of the more inventive acts to emerge from the area since Metallica. Formed in early 2007 in the East Bay while the bandmembers were all still high-school students, Fallujah's original lineup consisted of guitarists Alex Hofmann and Scott Carstairs, bassist Dan Wissinger, drummer Tommy Logan, and vocalist Suliman Arghandiwal Arghandiwal. This first edition of the band played mainly deathcore and grind. They issued a four-song demo just months after they began. Wissinger and Logan left the band shortly thereafter and were replaced by former Vivisection bassist Brandon "Brando" Hoberg and drummer Andrew Baird. Playing as many shows as they could -- van parties, basement gigs, etc. -- they focused their approach and cut a second four-song demo later in the year and released it in early 2008.
Playing older songs while honing new material, Fallujah embarked on recording their debut EP. Before sessions began, Arghandiwal left and Hofmann took over on vocals while Rob Maramonte, formerly of Eviscerated, joined as a second guitarist. This lineup enhanced the band's vision, which added technical death metal to its grind-and-blackened deathcore approach. Leper Colony appeared in 2009. Generally celebrated in the underground press, it gave the group more opportunities to tour outside the East Bay and Central Valley areas. They began to play a larger number of clubs in California's fertile metal scene as well as a regional tour of Northwestern and Southwestern states with Antagony. Fallujah kept audiences happy with new material, issuing two more demos in 2010.
When The Harvest Wombs, their widely anticipated debut long player, arrived in 2011, technical death metal became the primary force in Fallujah's sonic arsenal. Hofmann emerged as the persona who most clearly articulated the band's evolving musical and philosophical vision, which caused conflict within the ranks. Despite glowing press, Hoberg and Maramonte left shortly after its release. Guitarist Anthony Borges (ex-Scourge of Medusa, Valkyrja, and Suffokate) and bassist Rob Morey (ex-Scourge of Medusa and Rise of Caligula) replaced them. After a tour of the U.S, Maramonte returned to replace Borges. Hofmann, Carstairs, and Baird began working on a new sound that would expand the band's sonic and musical reach. With Maramonte back in the second guitar chair, they wove lush atmospherics into their sound with keyboards, backmasking, multi-tracked vocals, and numerous other effects. The first fruit of this labor was 2013's digital-only three-track EP Nomadic. While all the harsh and ambitious metallic subgenres were readily audible, there was also a progressive element at work as well.
After extensive touring, Maramonte left again; he was replaced by the innovative yet all but unheard-of guitarist Brian James. With his propulsive, syncopated vamping, James added an entirely new dimension to the band's sound and became a prime support for the imaginative Carstairs, and he began to solo more. In the summer of 2014, Fallujah released The Flesh Prevails. This sophomore long player evidenced the creative fruit of their efforts in seamlessly combining technical and blackened deathcore roots with their emergent progressive tendencies. The self-produced set was engineered by Zach Ohren. In January 2016, Nomadic was re-released, while February saw the announcement of a new studio full-length. Dreamless was released in April. ~ Thom Jurek
- San Francisco, CA