Dibbukim // Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn
Rating: 2.0/5.0 —Next year, the Holy Land! (To find a new vocalist…)
Label: Grandmaster Music
Websites: dibbukim.com | facebook.com/dibbukim | Full Stream
Release Dates: EU: 2011.04.25 | US: 06.07.2011 [Digitally: 04.25.2011]
Dibbukim is the band that I have been waiting for. Ever since I first hear the Orphaned Land song “Norra El Norra,” I’ve been thinking to myself “Where the hell is the first Klezmer-metal band?” There are two reasons for this: the first is that I love Klezmer. It is a fantastic style of music, entertaining and beautiful, as well as being ripe for blending into heavy metal. The second reason that I’ve always wanted to call a band “Hebrewcore.” And now I can. That’s right, Dibbukim is the world’s first “Hebrewcore” band. Mind you, there’s no -core at all, and they sing in Yiddish, not Hebrew but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s SO much more fun to say “Hebrewcore” than “Klezmer Metal” or “Klezmer Influenced Folk Metal.” Give into the joy of it. Though, it’s not really accurate at all… So. I guess…. Klezmercore! That alliterates! OK, Dibbukim is the world’s first “Klezmercore” band.
So given my enthusiasm, I’m assuming everyone is asking themselves how the hell this record is only receiving a 2 out of 5. Yeah, I was wondering the same fucking thing. I was so excited to get this album and as I put it in and thought to myself “How the hell do you even say Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn” (I’m guessing that this is like “As a bird and a golem dance,” but I don’t actually have a clue or a Yiddish translator [Update: I’m almost right!), I was met with a wave of excellence in the intro song “Shpil di Fidl Shpil” (Is this “Play the fiddle, play?”) and my heart was in my throat. And then it happened, vocalist Ida Olniansky came in and the crushing depression set in.
The idea of this band and the music is fantastic, but Ida needs to be tuned or a new vocalist needs to be found. I do not wish to be harsh, but she is singing off the entire time. The harmonies are literally painful (and I mean that as in I cringe and feel pain) in some places, particularly in “Hinter dem Tol,” but pretty much anywhere she does harmonies (“Der Rodmakher” or yeah, anywhere) they’re bad. They’re off. They don’t sound good. And I’m not sure how anyone let that pass, unless I am misunderstanding the concept of “harmonies” in klezmer music (which I’m pretty sure I don’t). And it just crushes my heart.
Why the sadness? Because the music here is awesome. It’s genuinely creative use of folk melodies and song structures and klezmer music is genuinely fun. It’s just such amazing music that kind of lifts your heart in your chest because much of it is basically dance music. Then mix that into traditional heavy metal structures, with Iron Maidenesque double leads and great guitar work (like on “Czardas” and “Khaloimes”) and what you’re listening to is brilliant. And when the vocals aren’t a hindrance, like on “Papirosn” this record is a 5/5. I mean, it is really excellently written and performed. The musicianship (especially the guitar work) is competent and well done, the composition is tremendously smart and the skill is obvious here. Male vocalist Niklas Olniansky does his job well and the recording is well done, even if the mix is a tad loud.
So here’s thing thing: I suggest you check it out if it sounds interesting to you. I want to encourage a) independent musicians to keep making music b) unique and creative individuals who are not following a well-worn path to keep doing that and c) klezmercore (because hell yes!). And if you can handle the vocals or you don’t hear what I’m hearing for some reason then you will be super pleased. But I recommend caution, because despite everything else that should make this one of the best records of the year, Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn proves once again that vocals really do make or break records.