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Fallujah Guitarist Scott Carstairs Discusses "Undying Light," New Vocalist Antonio Palermo And Labels

In the modern era, we can't help but fix labels to bands. Even if it defies characterisation, people will make up a tag for a band's sound. Since 2007, California's, Fallujah have been one such band that frustrates the label makers, with elements of prog, tech death, deathcore and more, they're not a band who can be pinned down in any way.

Last year, the band released their fourth album, "Undying Light" and now, they're kicking off the new decade by touring Europe with Darkest Hour, as part of a huge bill which also features Bloodlet, Une Misere and Lowest Creature. At their recent show in London, I caught up with the band's guitarist and chief songwritier, Scott Carstairs to discuss the record, as well as the introduction of new vocalist Antonio Palermo, artwork and more. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: Now that the dust has settled, how do you see "Undying Light" in the catalogue of Fallujah?

Scott Carstairs: Well it's definitely a lot different from the last album. We have a different lineup, we have a different vocalist. I've always been the one that does most of the writing and I wanted to try something new with this record, I wanted to try different textures and atmospheres, kind of inject a lot more air. Instead of having everything so tight and riffy, I wanted it to be more soundscapey. Then with Anthony, our new vocalist, I feel the way he does his vocals are a lot more kind of black metal, a lot more emotional, not as much of the death growl and brutal kind of stuff. That's cool but I feel like his vocals match the music more. I feel that compared to the other records, it kind of has this raw emotion to it that the others haven't had but it's still got some crazy leads and guitar parts.

Oz: Well that was actually a question I was going to ask later, were you worried that having someone with more of a black metal or grindcore vocal style would change the sound of the band too much?

Scott: Well, it was our choice. We definitely could have picked somebody that sounded exactly like our old vocalist but that's not what we wanted to do stylistically. We already this kind of black metal influence and post metal and thought that we might as well just go all the way with it, find somebody that fits perfectly. We tried out a bunch of different vocalists and every time we'd go back to Anthony's demos and his style. I thought it was perfect every time, I liked it way more than any of the auditions.

Oz: Plus Fallujah has always been very progressive and forward thinking so being able to incorporate new vocal styles goes along with being able to use new guitar styles for example.

Scott: For sure. Every album is a pretty different jump. The first album is like California tech death, the second album is kind of like prog, that's when we started messing around with atmosphere and then the last, "Dreamless," was kind of a contination of that, so I really wanted to change something up with this one and then the new album that we're working on now is even different to "Undying Light," especially considering we've got another new member, a guitar player that we haven't announced yet... Me and him are working on the album and it's coming out really cool and intense. But yeah, this is our music. It's not like one of those bands that you join and have to adhere to a certain style that's already happening. This is our style and we've just been slowly evolving over the years so we have the freedom to experiment.

Oz: Nice one. How's the fan reaction been to Anthony so far?

Scott: It's definitely mixed. I have people that love it and are like, "This is what I wanted the whole time!" and there's definitely people who like the old groove style and the YouTube comments are pretty brutal. I don't really care either way. I'm going to do what I'm going to do. YouTube comments are kind of fun. I think I should do a video where I just read them out.

Oz: I really like the artwork for "Undying Light." What was the meaning behind it?

Scott: Well like I was saying earlier, I wanted to have these textures and atmospheres with the music and I wanted nature involved with that. One of the songs I wanted to take the sounds of ocean waves and the feeling you get of being under water and put that to sound. So I wanted an album that was kind of like morphing as you're looking at it. You look deep in the eye and see the sun, the ocean and there's like a pupil you pull out and there's stuff in the clouds. I wanted it to be all trippy and morphing and a mixture of different textures. Definitely a lot of influence from nature.

Oz: Obviously right now you're on tour with Darkest Hour and Une Misere. How did this combination come about?

Scott: I think Darkest Hour just decided to take us out. I'm not too sure how everyone else got on but we're pretty stoked to be on it. Une Misere are label mates and I really dig their sound so the moment we linked up I think we all got along pretty well. We're already talking about doing something in the States together. We're having a good time, Darkest Hour has been really cool to us but yeah it's been a good tour so far, having fun on the bus and getting into trouble a couple of times.

Oz: Like you said, the first album was more in the vein of tech death, but Fallujah's been labelled as "tech death," "deathcore"... Is there any particular tag that you're most comfortable with?

Scott: I don't know, really. People have said "atmospheric death metal" and that seems unique to other bands but I'm sure by now there's a bunch of other bands that call themselves that so... I don't really think about adhering to a certain genre when we're writing the album. Just like the last album, we had a sound in our heads that we were trying to get out and we just went for it. Most of the first album was written when I was like seventeen and I'm twenty eight now. I've listened to completely different music and had different experiences, learned a lot about how to write music and how to layer things. I try to have more interesting chord progressions. It's hard for me to just write some sort of chord progression that just stays in D and doesn't do some kind of outside thing.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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