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Cabal – Drag Me Down

Drag Me Down
by Santiago Puyol at 17 May 2020, 4:17 PM

CABAL are a Blackened Death Metal band from Copenhagen, Denmark, and "Drag Me Down" is their second full-length album, following their debut EP "Purge" from 2016 and first full-length "Mark of Rot" from 2018. The band mixes some elements from Metalcore and Industrial into their sound, making for a heavy, brutal and abrasive listening experience.

Throughout the ten tracks of "Drag Me Down", CABAL lays down evil riffs, harsh and at times unintelligible growls and screams, frantic drumming and blast beats, creative breakdowns, barricades of pure noise and the occasional pulse of electronic beats and instruments.

The first half of the record has to be its less coherent and most difficult. Opener "Gift Givers" goes full-speed and full-distortion almost from the very first second and keeps the tempo crushingly up for most of its three minutes, slowing down slightly on its very last seconds, almost as if to connect with the moody title track. "Drag Me Down" has a Metalcore edge to its riffing and calculated drumming. Although less manic than the opener, it is even more technical in its composition.

"It Haunts Me" and "Tongues" show off the Metalcore influences more clearly, especially on the slight use electronic touches. It would be really hard for you not to headbang on its brief but effective breakdowns. Still, even though the tracks have a couple of shifting moments, the songs have too little room to breathe and never fully explore the ideas they throw in.
Ending this first, at times uneven half, is one highlight of the record, "Sjælebrand." Here the band puts the Black Metal in Blackened, with some crunchy, malevolent riffs and overall slow but oppressive atmosphere. The songwriting feels more straightforward and that works in CABAL’s favour.

"The Hangman’s Song" is hard-hitting and effective, feeling like an opener of sorts; even succeeding more than "Gift Givers" at that. Although not as impressive as the rest of the tracks on this second half, it is solid and brings up the overall quality of the record. It retains a bit of that Black Metal feel from "Sjælebrand" but takes it into a more high-energy territory, with some squeaking guitar and downtuned punchy riffing.

"Death March" and "Bitter Friend" are the highlights of the record, emphasizing how remarkable the band’s songwriting can be. "Death March" has the noisiest breakdown on "Drag Me Down" right in the midpoint through the track; it uses gang vocals to fine effect and builds to a wicked end. "Bitter Friend" incorporates subtle synths and electronic elements as texture, playing around with syncopation on its exploratory breakdowns. A track with a creative structure anchored in an internal flow some of the first half tracks simply do not have.

Closing the record are the Thrash-tingled and slightly melodic "Unbound" and the massive "Demagogue," a blast beat assault to end the album on a high note. The final track even allows for slower, chuggier moments before dying into static and feedback.

"Drag Me Down" is a solid record that shows a duality on CABAL. Focusing on tight-written songs, even if they fall a little into a more straightforward approach, can actually work for a band that clearly knows their sound and what they want to do with it. The second half of the record and the superb "Sjælebrand" are clear examples of that.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Gift Givers
2. Drag Me Down (feat. Jamie Hails)
3. It Haunts Me (feat. Kim Song Sternkopf)
4. Tongues
5. Sjælebrand
6. The Hangman’s Song
7. Death March
8. Bitter Friend (feat. Matt Heavy)
9. Unbound
10. Demagogue
Andreas Paarup – Vocals
Malthe Sørensen – Bass
Nikolaj Kaae Kirk – Drums
Chris Kreutzfeldt – Guitar
Arsalan Sahki – Guitar
Record Label: Long Branch Records


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