[sic] Magazine

Dälek – Gutter Tactics

“What Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true. America’s chickens are coming home to roost! We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Arawak, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism! We took Africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism! We bombed Grenada and killed innocent babies, non military personnel. We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenagers and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard-working fathers. We bombed Gadhaffi’s home and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s heads against a rock! We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to payback for the attack on our embassy. Killed hundreds of hard-working people; mothers and fathers who left home to go that day, not knowing that they would never get back home. We bombed Hiroshima! We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye!”

This controversial, but indisputably true, post-9/11 speech by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright opens up Dälek’s fourth album, a dense, rage-filled slab of apocalyptic hip hop. The duo come from a long line of radical (both politically and musically) acts stretching back to Public Enemy via the likes of the Beatnigs and Company Flow. But none of their forebears ever sounded quite this heavy.

Sonically, Gutter Tactics is a dirty, sprawling monster of a record. It sounds fantastic. Producer Oktopus provides slabs of metallic noise that vie with screeching feedback and filthy, grinding drones with the consistency of tar. The beats don’t differ much from the standard hip hop rhythm, but have an industrial intensity. There are moments of relative light and colour among the steel-grey noise – the beautiful guitar loops on “We Lost Sight” being an example. But generally, this is relentless.

The epic “Who Medgar Evers Was” is particularly harsh – great squalls of feedback drown out the beats that gradually grind down in tempo to a stuttering crawl. The booming riffs of the title track would give Sunn O))) a good run for their money. As the album progresses, though, the mood becomes less furious and more sombre and downbeat. The magnificently titled “A Collection of Miserable Thoughts Laced With Wit” has an atmosphere that matches its title.

MC Dälek himself is a proficient rapper, no more than that. And the major disappointment with the album is that the lyrics are often inaudible through the barrage of sound. It’s a shame, because they are obviously an important part of the duo’s craft. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were included with the packaging, but they’re not. That gripe aside, Gutter Tactics is a feast of noise. And unlike most of the doom metal merchants with whom it shares much sonic DNA, it has both a message and you can dance to it.



For more from Dez please read his blog Music Musings & Miscellany