Catafalque – Dybbuk Review

Good drone swallows you. Drone is not meant to invoke movement or adrenaline, but to evoke a mood or place. It sweeps away like the tides, not with rhythmic intensity but with mammoth weight, and dwells with you. A dybbuk is a Jewish mythological creature that sits on your chest while you sleep, and at its best this album attaches to you like a parasite. Wailing and gnashing of teeth echo across the fray, visceral and ritualistic, and as haunting as it is devastating. The place Catafalque takes you to is not the foot of great mountains or grey cityscapes, but a shadowy place that is as possessed as it is otherworldly – albeit an imperfect place where jagged shards of light punch through the safety of dark. It’s largely up to you if it’s the place you want to be.

Catafalque is a UK four-piece consisting of members of acts like Gnarl, Mastiff, and Hundred Year Old Man, drowning in a caustic fusion of drone metal, industrial ambiance, and harsh noise. For their fourth full-length, expect your typical tar-thick Sunn O))) drone riffs married neatly with an amplifying harsh noise and industrial presence not unlike Bolt Gun or Black Boned Angel, alongside a sparse and effective psychedelia and old-school doom vibe that recalls Dark Buddha Rising and classic Black Sabbath. The result, while as dense and as uncompromising as drone is supposed to be, suffers from issues of memorability, uneven songwriting, and abrupt tonal shifts.

Dybbuk by Catafalque

Aside from the eerie intro “Manifestation,” Catafalque’s best is an act of slow-burning crescendo. Most magnificently displayed in “Infestation” and “Possession,” a backbone of tom-heavy percussion lays a ritualistic aura, with steadily and subtly growing density throughout ten- to twelve-minute runtimes. While the former’s climax is simply the thickest iteration of the central slog that recalls a more slow-burning post-metal progression a la Izah, the latter embraces more of the old-school doom template, piercing snare guiding a dronier interpretation of the classic Black Sabbath sound. When the album embraces the menace with ritualistic percussion and sprawling riffs, the atmosphere is a force to be reckoned with. Crooning, chanting, and harsh screams, provided by guitarist Thomas Ott and bassist Dan Dolby, are buried beneath the slough, recalling both Dark Buddha Rising and Baroness in dynamic and unpredictable capacity. The mix is as monolithic as any drone album ought to be, each miasmic riff moving mountains with waves of density and industrial harshness. With vocals pushed to the background giving further emphasis to the Sunn O)))-intensity, a psychedelic and otherworldly vibe is provided, which is downright lethal in conjunction with the slow-motion pummeling that its riffs provide.

The biggest setback of Dybbuk is the wonky centerpiece “Oppression.” While initially picking up where “Infestation” left off, what starts with a hauntingly minor assault of chanting and layered vocals suddenly gets T-boned by a jarringly major chord progression that strikes the ears wrong with every iteration. The vocal variety continues in its ritualistic horror, but clashes painfully with this motif, worsened by abrupt movements and a cliffhanger of a conclusion that sounds stark compared to the subtle intro of the follow-up “Possession.” Comprising a third of the album’s runtime, this derails the continuity and bulletproof progressions of its bookends; because of its placement as a kind of album climax, it feels like a letdown before the falling action of “Oppression.” While ultimately nitpicky, and as Dybbuk offers a worthy listen for drone fans, Catafalque makes no case about being the newest or best, as those curious would do better giving Dark Buddha Rising’s formidable discography a spin rather than the paper-thin and inconsistent movements contained herein. While promising an interesting blend of influences, Catafalque’s songwriting cannot hold up to the bulletproof songwriting making classics out of Mathreyata or Dhakmandal.

I had very mixed feelings about Dybbuk. While menacing and ominous, living up to the horrifying creature it seeks to conjure, its worst is jarring and its best feels like dollar-store Dark Buddha Rising. While I find the inclusions of classic doom intriguing and the industrial/harsh noise inclusion fits like a glove, there is simply not enough here to justify a solid recommendation. If you’re a drone fan, you’ll find much to love about Dybbuk, but staying power and songwriting are lacking for this particular beast.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Aural Music | Code666
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 13th, 2023

The post Catafalque – Dybbuk Review appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.

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