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 - Az a Foygl un a Goylem TantsnDibbukim 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.

DibbukimWhy 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.

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  • Eric Yanyo

    Haven’t listened yet (just about to start) but sounds intriguing.

    There’s a song on Amorphis’ “Tuonela” — don’t recall the title off the top of my head, and I don’t have the CD here at work — that almost hints in this direction, and (just like you said) I have always thought that “Klezmercore” would probably be the awesomest thing ever.

  • ZacP

    The one song on youtube, Hinter dem tol, is really good! But yeah…I would hate to hear the singers who didn’t make the cut

    And this makes me think of an Amorphis song too…”Cares.” its got a real disco vibe starting about halfway thru the song

    • Paris

      I just listened to that song too. Its such a shame that the vocals let down what i can hear would have been an awesome song!! I mean the dual guitar work at 3 minutes alone is enough! its a shame cos i was really looking forward to hearing a song in yiddish HA

  • Zadion

    I just heard the same song mentioned in the two comments above, and I gotta say that, while I don’t think the singer has a very remarkable voice AT ALL, she doesn’t seem as out of pitch as you make it seem. Sounds like she’s trying the opera vocal thing, though not doing a very good job at it.

    • Really? ‘Cause, she’s pretty off, dude. And when I say “pretty off” I mean, like, really, really off. It’s on the harmonies in the chorus. Listen around 41 seconds. If you think that sounds OK, you need your ears checked.

      • Zadion

        I think I might need my ears checked then lol. It just sounds to me like she’s trying the opera thing.
        Actually, she sounds a lot more off pitch in the verses than the chorus to me.

      • Eric Yanyo

        The vocal parts in the chorus seem to be in the same key as the lead guitar parts. Which is not necessarily the exact same key as the rest of the instrumentation. Someone who knows a lot more about music theory than I do would have to analyse this and break it down, but to my semi-trained ears I would say they are setting a melody line that occasionally slips into a major key against background music that is in a different tonal scale (perhaps a pentatonic or gypsy scale?)… this is probably intentional, but at the same time probably sounds out of tune to the average “western” listener.

        Of course I could be completely off-base here and the notes could simply be wrong. But it sounded good to me – like in a sort of exotic way.

        • Eric Yanyo

          Also, I just revisited the specific spot referenced above (“Hinter dem Tol” 0:41), and I am not hearing anything out of key.

          At this exact moment, the best I can figure out (without any musical instrument nearby, just playing this part of the song in my head) they are using augmented-fourth chords; between the music and the lead and harmony vocals, one or more of these parts seems to stay on the root or fourth or fifth of each chord.

          Again, take this with a grain of salt, because my brain is half-fried from being at work, and I may be imagining things.

          • Dude, I’m taking this with a grain of salt. I am not a vain man (OK, maybe a little), but I have an excellent ear. She is off. This is bad. This is not intentional.

  • dheim

    i’ve just listened to hinter dem tol, and mighty heavens, if she’s OFF! that’s a real shame, because the demo song i heard some time ago was really good and well sang… :(

    • Yeah! I’m so fucking confused. It’s such a shame because really the music is beautiful and the vocal performances are just plain off. And I don’t know if it’s her fault, or the producers fault, or… I dunno what’s going on, but it ain’t good. :'(

  • ZacP

    Maybe if they put out a few solid albums and get a little bigger then we can always look forward to a remaster

  • Drained Soul

    After listening to the youtube clips there’s no doubt about that the production is the devil in this drama. As stated by Eric Yanyo there’s nothing out of key, there’s however an issue with an unbelivebly lame vocal production. The vocals just dosen’t seem to be a part of the very guitar dominated sound scape, and maybe this is what making you turned off. And it’s a total shame while the songs are fuckin’ awesome and I believe the vocals are very interesting as well. Therefore I hope the band will heed ZacP’s call and go for a re-mix/re-master in the future.

    • … No. There is definitely something out of tune in this. If you’re not hearing this, then.. well.. Please don’t produce records. ;)

      Are you sure you’re listening to the right YouTube clips? There’s an old clip where she’s singing perfectly well. It’s on the new record where the clashes come.

      • Drained Soul

        I assumed we were talking about Hinter dem tol since it was mentioned above. I’ve also heard another one called Khaloymes which I found really good even though the vocal production was almost as bad as on Hinter dem tol. Is this the old recording, ’cause it did seem like it was from the new album?

        However, it seem really strange that a singer would be perfect on one recording and totally out of key on the next. This if anything makes me even more sure that this could’ve been avoided with a good properly produced vocal sound. The problem with the 0:41 vocals is not that they are off, it’s that the lead vocals are totally dominated by the harmony vocals with it’s higher octavo. And yeah… this sounds kinda strange, but strange is not the same thing as out of key.

        There are other problems with the sound as well imo. For one thing the percussion sounds really crappy. So I agree with you that this band should go to the holy land next year, but rather than search for a vocalist they should look for a sound engineer! ^^