Di’Aul – Abracamacabra Review

When it comes to the types of metal we cover on this site, it’s rare to find bands openly drawing from grunge, even though it was the dominant rock style of the 90s. Bluesy hard rock and prog from the 70s, 80s guitar heroics; scroll through the reviews on our homepage and you’ll find a band or five still mining those veins. Sure, there’s sludge, grunge’s fugly big brother, but love that genre as I do, it rarely trips the dormant teenage Cherd nostalgia centers of my brain that flare up when something 90s alt rock radio adjacent passes over my earballs. Di’Aul, on the other hand, crashes into the ol’ cortex like an atomic elbow off the top rope. This is not to say these Italians are a grunge band. They definitely fall more neatly into the “doom” slot on my metal rolodex, but from the riff stylings to the vocals, there’s grungy stank all over third full-length Abracamacabra

If you’re the type to indulge name drops, Di’Aul is like a vinegary hot pot of Sleep, Alice In Chains, Crowbar and Stone Temple Pilots. Riffs tend to be simple but big, while Cosimo Cinieri’s vocal delivery can be described as wizened, impassioned shout-singing. Add to this undercurrents of 70s bluesy-ness, and the result is a stoner doom record infused with the kind of angst that made teenage me feel them big feels. Blues licks take center stage on album highlight “Abracamacabra,” a slow, smoky burn that doesn’t forget to get heavy, while peak grunge can be heard on opener “Thou Crawl” and especially on the bombastic second half of “The Losers’ River,” another standout track. Again, this is not to say these aren’t doom songs. The measured pace and unmistakable solemnity of “The Losers’ River” scratch my middle-aged sad man itch just as much as my vestigial teen angst. 

I’m a sucker for the kind of weathered, half harsh, half clean vocal style of folks like Kirk Windstein or Beastwars frontman Matthew Hyde, and Di’Aul‘s Cinieri performs his own take on the style admirably across Abracamacabra. The range he displays on the title track without ever dropping into purely clean singing is impressive, and the emotion he conveys in the pre-solo chorus halfway through “The Losers’ River” had me making involuntary scrunch face the first couple times I heard it. At their best, the unfussy riffs and well-paced arrangements support Cinieri as the focal point. And speaking of their Kiwi contemporaries, the sludgy stoner groove of “This Quiet” would fit snuggly into the last couple Beastwars albums, making it another high point on Abracamacabra.

When it comes to instrumentation, Di’Aul definitely fall into the “sturdy but unspectacular” category. The band makes no attempt to hide their backward-looking approach, so if you’re searching for a fresh sound with youthful fire in its veins, this is not it. Having played together for 12 years, one gets the sense this is a veteran band comfortable with each other. Their valleys aren’t especially low, but their peaks aren’t anything that will leave you out of breath either. As for lows, “De Profundi,” sandwiched between the two best tracks, is relatively bland. And while the upbeat rocker “La Notte di Valpurga” may be needed for the variety it lends Abracamacabra as a whole, it mostly shows that Di’Aul, like a lot of doom bands, get less interesting the faster they play. 

If you’re looking for a doom album with a healthy dose of the 90s, this could be your jam. In a field that generally does little to distinguish itself, the grunge flavor and vocal stylings of Di’Aul help put them a notch above the stoner also-rans. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a meticulously curated 90s Alternative Radio playlist on Spotify that I have to spend some time with.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Mooddoom Records
Websites: diaul.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/diaul111
Releases Worldwide: March 18th, 2022

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