New Band Of The Week: Cabal

The band Cabal standing in smoke

Sounds Like:
Slamming, blackened deathcore with a polyrhythmic pulse

For Fans Of:
Black Tongue, Thy Art Is Murder, Car Bomb

Listen To:
False Light

Bridging the divide between old-school filth and new-school polish is a hard trick to pull off for any forward-thinking metal band, but Copenhagen’s Cabal seem to have nailed it first time out. With a sound that blends Meshuggah’s polyrhythmic attack with the sledge-hammer downtempo deathcore of The Acacia Strain, debut album Mark Of Rot ticks plenty of contemporary boxes, but it’s also really, really fucking creepy and grim. Formed in 2015 by guitarist and noted producer Chris Kreutzfeldt, Cabal are turning deathcore black.

“Early on we talked about taking this somewhere darker,” he states. “We wanted to make something closer to the black metal vibe because that felt more natural, more exciting. We have breakdowns… but they’re evil breakdowns.”

“When I was younger I used to listen to a lot of the classic black metal bands like Gorgoroth and Mayhem,” adds vocalist Andreas Bjulver. “Obviously our music doesn’t sound like that, but we want that vibe, that expression. We want the grittiness that black metal has. It works so well with what we do.”

From its ghoulish monochrome artwork to the eerie atmospherics that seep through cracks in Chris’s arsenal of churning riffs, Mark Of Rot is plainly not designed to chime with fans of perky, multi-coloured metalcore. But then, given the state of the world in 2018, Andreas reasons, why would anyone be optimistic?

“The whole theme behind Cabal is the idea that we as the human race, all the stuff we’re doing, it’s bringing us closer to our own demise,” he explains. “We’re racing towards the brink of extinction with the choices we make, from politics to scientific progress, it’s all going in the wrong direction. So it’s a protest against all of that but the album also brings to life this death cult that extinguishes humanity. That’s where the title comes from. Because of the way humanity behaves, we’re marked by rot.” 

The aesthetic contrast between Cabal and many of their tech-metal and deathcore peers is undeniable, but the Danes are already forging strong bonds with some of the scene’s big-hitters. Mark Of Rot features guest appearances from Filip Danielsson of epic extremists In Reverence and, most notably, Thy Art Is Murder frontman CJ McMahon

“The truth is that I just wrote to him on Instagram. It was very simple!” laughs Andreas. “We basically advertised a paid vocal job and he responded! Ha ha ha!”

“He was supposed to do it in my studio in Copenhagen when Thy Art were on tour in Europe,” says Chris. “But he had a throat infection so he did it when he got home. We’re very happy, though, because he did a great job.”

Cabal Mark Of Rot album cover

Further evidence that the Danish metal scene is gaining huge momentum right now, Cabal are blurring the lines between subgenres and aesthetics with the exuberance of revolutionaries. Most importantly, Mark Of Rot slams like an absolute motherfucker: no wonder this band are winning over everyone that steps into their sinister shadow.

“We were sure the old-school guys would hate it because there’s breakdowns every 30 seconds, but I guess we were wrong!” laughs Chris. “We get a lot of old-school death metal people at our shows and that’s really cool. I’m really proud of this album, so I hope we can get it out to as many people as we can.”

“We don’t talk to the audience much when we play,” Andreas concludes. “We make it as dark as possible. You can see these creepy silhouettes playing, but the music is the focus. Everything’s dark so just go fucking nuts, you know?” 

Mark Of Rot is out now via Long Branch and available to order from Amazon.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.