Darker and less drug-addled than New Orleans stalwarts EyeHateGod, Dukalaton seem bent on creating a foreboding, malevolent atmosphere with their sludge sound. The Israeli band have no shortage of turmoil surrounding them to inspire their craft, but their Relapse debut, Saved By Fear isn’t political so much as emotionally-driven and viscerally heavy. It’s a mean, mean album in a mean, mean world.
The biting and slow plod of “Vagabond,” the centerpiece of Saved By Fear, makes it a highlight, but it’s not so sonically different than the rest of what Dukatalon has to offer on the album. There’s a lethal groove to the guitar work of Zafrir Zori, who also contributes lead vocals, and the rhythm section of bassist Lior Mayer and drummer Yariv Shilo do an excellent job capitalizing and bringing the most out from it. Within the genre of sludge metal, they’re not doing anything really outlandish, but their misanthropic appeal speaks for itself. Zori’s yells are tortured, and the ambience of Saved By Fear, interrupted only by the three-minute acoustic title-track/interlude, follows suit.
Nonetheless, it’s a full atmosphere they’ve constructed in the songs and Dukatalon fit in well with a new breed of sludge acts like Salome and Thou, their geographic locale acting mostly as a novelty. That is, nothing specifically “Middle Eastern” comes out of the sound—they’re not like a folk metal band from Finland playing flutes in the woods. Rather, the outfit’s first album (released in Israel in 2009 via Sleeping Village Records) offers a brand of doom that’s near-universal and could have come from anywhere. Doesn’t make it any less affecting.
In A Word: Gutteral