"Saved By Fear"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Does the world really need another sludge metal album at this point? No, not really, but if we're going to get another one, it might as well be "Saved By Fear". I'm not sure where the mysterious Dukatalon hail from, as the Relapse promo contained NO info on them, but I'm guessing it's probably the American South.

What we have here is yet another band heavily inspired by the likes of High On Fire, Zoroaster, Bison BC and just about any other Southern-tinged sludge icon you could name. It's too bad the field is so clogged, because "Saved By Fear" is actually a damn good album. It's just that there's SO much sludge flooding the pool, so to speak. What helps this record immeasurably is the thick, syrupy sound of it...abrasive guitars, ribcage-rattling bass and drums with the concussive force of an RPG attack. The greatest strength of any sludge album is in its riffing...and here Dukatalon hit a motherload. The riffs are not too original...High on Fire's "Surrounded by Thieves" and old Zoroaster are a HUGE influence...but they are fucking awesome and the band knows how to lock into a killer hypnotic groove. That's demonstrated on very first cut "Peis" which will get your head nodding and body swaying in no time. "Run", "Vagabond", and the monolithic "ZX" continue the riff rage. Guitar solos are nothing to write home about and the vocals are a virtual afterthought...vague shouting in the background.

A couple of ringers liven things up. The title track, despite the ominous title, is a lovely bit of acoustic play that lightens things up and the record ending "Mekononet" (don't ask me what that means) includes some of the weirdest, off-beat chugging polyrhythms around. Almost like Meshuggah gone Southern sludge.

A real rocking album, but lack of originality keeps it from taking that next step. Maybe a band to keep an eye on...