Released: 2011, Grand Master Music
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
For some reason when I read the words “True Yiddish Metal,” I didn't think of four Swedes being behind the slogan. But apparently my preconceptions would be in error, as Sweden’s Dibbukim has staked just such a declaration. The brainchild of Niklas and Ida Olniansky, Dibbukim was conceived as an outlet to incorporate the Yiddish language into a metal context. Yggdrasil alumni Magnus Wohlfart and Jacob Blecher were enlisted to round out the ensemble, and the resulting AZ A FOYGL UN A GOYLEM TANTSN (“As a Bird and a Golem Dances) was released earlier this year. So what does “True Yiddish Metal” from Sweden sound like, hmmm?
The album is a mixed bag and a little hard to digest. I’m fine with Yiddish being used as the language of choice; music is universal and plenty of acts have made some kick ass records in their native tongues (Kvelertak anyone?). But it’s the music itself that makes or breaks a band, and it’s also where things get a little complicated for Dibbukim. Half of the songs on the album are metallicized interpretations of traditional Hebrew folk songs, while the other half are original compositions. The folk song angle is interesting enough through the first couple of tracks, but it gets awfully repetitive awfully quick. Many of these tunes share similar melodies and arrangements, and aside from adding electric guitars to the song structure, Dibbukim never really takes the opportunity to personalize them. So they’re essentially the same songs that they’ve always been, but just ramped up with some extra wattage. However, the originals tunes are much, much more interesting. “Hinter Dem Tol,” “A Mabl Fun Mashke,” “Der Tants/Khaloymes” and the particularly moving “Der Rodmakher” all bear traits of gothic, folk, Eurothrash, and traditional Maiden-esque galloping harmonies. Heavier, more complex, and generally well thought out, I really enjoyed these tracks. Give me a full album’s worth of tunes like these and we’ll call it a good day, but unfortunately these high points are too few and far between on AZ A FOYGL UN A GOYLEM TANTSN.
Still though, I’d encourage even the remotely curious to check out Dibbukim’s website and sample their wares. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a digital download of the album will only set you back 5 bucks. At their core, Dibbukim has an interesting premise which they’re obviously very passionate about, and given how closed minded metal fans can be sometimes, they deserve a “horns up” at the very least. Hopefully though if a follow up album is in the cards, the band will place more of an emphasis on their own creations and leave the standards as inspiration.