Ridiculously it’s a decade since Israeli juggernaut Dukatalon released debut album Saved By Fear (Relapse Records): a bruising yet incredibly inventive slice of Sludge that at times called to mind Led Zeppelin as much as it did the likes of Iron Monkey. Aside from a brief tour of the UK three years ago, little has been heard of the band outside of their native Tel Aviv, so what a beginning to 2020 with long-awaited new album Involuntary Action (Self-Release) hitting the hard drive. if only the band’s mouthpiece in the UK – Manchester’s ‘King of Nasty’, Eytan Wineapple – could’ve stuck around long enough to hear it.
The atmosphere of echo continues from the past with opener ‘Above the Flames’, frontman Zafrir Tzori roaring his diseased platitudes from atop Mount Carmel as the track courses through psychedelic crushes and transmuting riffs, which flick from thrashing buzzsaws to Gothic chimes. Warping rhythm guitar pulses toward the aural battery of ‘No Consolation’, new drummer Maayan Henik flattening his kit here and through the ensuing ‘Conscience Bleeds’: a hammering entity with howling alarms and Tzori scouring his belly for the benefit of a track that would grace any big-budget dystopian movie.
What’s especially noticeable here is some remarkable delicacy amid the violent, weighty chaos. Tzori’s leadwork is sparing yet memorable, while Roy Ben Samuel‘s whirling bass notes carry the source of the sound almost unnoticeably. ‘Dark Pool’ is menacing yet staggered: the bridge a moaning separation from savagery; riffs delivered with a scythe from on high; the mid-section again harking back to a Killing Joke-like melodic coldness. It’s halfway in, meanwhile, before the title track grabs hold of the listener’s head and shakes it about vigorously, the intervening passages an amalgam of musical emotion and visceral angst: while the riff of the pulverising ‘Blackened Disease’ rains punches to the skull before Henik pounds holes into the resulting lesions and introduces swirling atmospheres, a delicious symphony of desolation with ice-cold chords bewitching the mind. This leads to the acoustic sadness of ‘Myopia’, which is nevertheless carried by subtle yet harrowing undercurrents which warn of a bludgeoning return.
It comes with the penultimate ‘Angels in Red’, another booming discourse given irresistible force by Henik’s earth-shattering drums and Tzori’s Thrash-tinged riff. Eastern flurries dance into the soul and resound into closer ‘Quicksand Warning’, an oscillating monstrosity with progressive patterns and hints of Mastodon in its frenetic belly. Mastodon, however, has never sounded quite so relentless: so powerful, all-consuming. Involuntary Action is not merely a triumphant return, it is a coming-together of worlds, a marriage of optimum power and technical creativity with a diseased phlegm in its lungs. Quite frankly it’s fucking joyous, the radar pulses of its elongated coda a call to a dear-departed, mutual friend: the whole album moving, terrifying, yet instigating the kind of pit Eytan once lived for. For those of us who adored that debut album, here’s the news: it was no flash in the pan. Dukatalon have come back even better.
9 / 10