Cabal – ‘Drag Me Down’

By Dave Stewart

When you think of deathcore, you probably don’t think of Denmark – not even for a second. One listen to Copenhagen’s Cabal will change that. Their devilish take on the genre is teeming with darkness and unnerve, laced with a dash of black metal spice to make things sound just that little bit more evil.

Their 2018 debut record ‘Mark Of Rot’ was a blistering introduction to exactly what these guys are capable of, with track after track of unadulterated aural punishment and a couple of notable guest vocal appearances from CJ McMahon (Thy Art Is Murder) and Filip Danielsson (Humanity’s Last Breath). Their new record ‘Drag Me Down’ is a continuation of what they started, providing another ten menacing tracks with a few more big guest spots thrown in for good measure.

As soon as the record begins, the gates of hell burst open as ‘Gift Givers’ hurtles through them and floods your senses with fire and brimstone in the form of blast beats, blood-curdling screams and breakdowns heavy enough to flatten entire cities. Lead single ‘Tongues’ provides a furious dose of the same, unleashing attacks from all angles that leave you completely breathless when they take a moment to reload their weaponry.

‘Sjælebrand’ is like a deathcore funeral dirge, slowly creeping through murky surroundings and building towards a terrifying, towering crescendo. ‘The Hangman’s Song’ is a shapeshifter, continuously shifting between tempos as it moves from irresistibly headbangable riffs to slow, sludgy doom. ‘Unbound’ is the bounciest track on record, boasting a groove so addictive that it’ll possess your body and force you into movement. There isn’t a single weak track on show here, and the additional guest personnel make some of those tracks even better.

The guest spots here have all been really well placed throughout the record, each vocalist bringing their own unique styles to the songs and elevating them to somewhere special. Polaris vocalist Jamie Hails brings his forceful tones to the title track ‘Drag Me Down’, channelling so much rage into his performance, you can almost feel it physically. Kim Song Sternkopf, vocalist for rising black metal wonders MØL, lays his banshee-like pained screams over ‘It Haunts Me’ like a thick mist over a gloomy forest.

The most interesting guest here though is Matt Heafy, legendary Trivium front man. He’s always been vocal about his love for death metal and deathcore, but his appearance and spine-tingling efforts on ‘Bitter Friend’ make for a welcome surprise, stirring his unmistakable snarl through Cabal’s sinister and murky waters.

This is a demonic, snarling and ravenous beast of an album. From the very first chaotic moments right up to the turbulent finale, it delivers punch after devastating punch without any compromise in force. The way they blend styles together is really unique for the genre – not only is their brand of deathcore polished and punishing, but the black metal vibes fill you with an undying need to join the occult, and the rhythmic grooves woven into a the foundations make you want to spin your new culty pals into a pitting frenzy.

Cabal were already an act to watch in the heavy music world, but ‘Drag Me Down’ makes it even more vital to put them on your radar. If you like your riffs gigantic and your breakdowns monolithic, this is a record that you can’t afford to ignore. Light a candle, burn some sage, crack out the Ouija board and blast this as loud as you can. Just don’t mutter anything too Satanic – the chances of this record summoning something from the depths is incredibly high.

DAVE STEWART

Three more album reviews for you

COPE - 'THE SHOCK DOCTRINE'

Naked Next Door - 'Swerving Out Wide'

Non Canon - 'Non Canon II'