December 15, 2010

Music Review: Dukatalon - Saved by Fear

Israeli sludge metal. I can honestly say I did not ever expect to come across something like this. Of course I never really thought about it either. Either way Dukatalon is a surprise, a pleasant one. Frankly, I do not believe I have encountered much music, much less metal music, hailing from Israel or anywhere in the Middle East. It is not a part of the world I expect is a hot bed of metallic activity, but it is there. I know it exists having seen the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad. I am glad that it exists and perhaps I should pay closer attention to the far reaching metal world. For the moment I will just be happy that this has passed my desk.

Saved by Fear is the three-piece's debut full length album, following their initial EP release in 2007. This album was first released in 2009 with a very small print run in Israel. Somehow they came to the attention of Relapse Records and were scooped up Now they are poised to get some real exposure. Exposure that is well deserved. Dukatalon may not be the best or most original band, but I have to say there is something about them that makes you want to pay attention.

Their brand of sludge metal is striking. It is filled with the familiar elements, but it is something in the execution that brings a certain freshness. It is like old school Eyehategod blended with my early experiences with Gojira. The style lines up with the former while the sheer heaviness experienced by my initial listen is similar to the latter.

For a style of music I would not necessarily tag as "catchy," Saved by Fear is one catchy album. They first pound you over the head with unrelenting heaviness and then they make you like it and ask for more. The guitar and drum attack is positively brutal. The riffs are endless, they beat their way into your skull and once the surface is a cracked broken shell, they curl up in your cozy gray matter where they proceed to make you love them. Think of it as something like battered listener syndrome.

The 8 songs run  nearly 47-minutes and they scarcely let up. Actually, the only moment that lets up the mid-slow tempo doom and groove sludginess is the title track. The fuzzy guitars are set aside and in their place we get an acoustic tune. A little something to cleanse the palate before the push to the finish.

Te fuzzed out riffs and incessant drums are overbearing in their absolute insistence. They even drown out the vocals most of the time. I would often think of that as the result of a poor mix, but not here. There is something in the way the layers come together that just works really well.

Bottomline. Yes, Dukatalon is a band you will want to check out, especially if you like heavy music. Infectious and brutal in equal doses blending together to make a whole that will hold you trapped.


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