French metal band Dukkha offer up a diverse combination of brutal heavy-polyrhythmic and djent guitars with melodic ambiences, which they describe as “raw, powerful and meaningful.”
The Lyon band was formed in 2016 by Julien Sartorius (vocals) and Maxim Payot (guitar). They were swiftly joined by Fabien Belissard (guitar) before the band composed its first album Legacy, which was released in 2018, then added Jérôme Salomon (bass) and Maxime Mangeant (drums), who was also the session drummer for fellow French band Hypno5e.
The band has just released its first music in three years since that debut album with brand new single Giant Storm. And it was well worth the three year wait. It dives straight into big slamming guitars and heavy drums, which are joined by a huge scream and a searing synth sound. Brutal vocals take over alongside a spinning lick and unrelenting drums then big djenty guitars under savage screams.
More proggy guitars come in as the heavy vocals continue, then it finally gives us a chance to catch breath in a slow section. That builds into a huge smash of big screams, which drop into an ambient section before bursting into more heavy screams over stabbing high-pitched guitars. Atmospheric high-pitched guitars come in as the big screams and heavy drums continue to bring the track to a powerful ending.
On the track, the band told us: “We’ve been astonished by all the positive feedback we received towards Giant Storm. The covid situation delayed many things for us and after 3 years without releasing anything we almost forgot this feeling. So it’s pretty heart-warming to see that people are still there and enjoying your music after such a long time.
“For those who haven’t listened to Giant Storm yet, they have to know that we wanted our comeback song to be in a very ‘in-your-face’ style, no intro and a direct impact filled with our usual ‘roughness/melody’ duality. We teamed up with PY (lead vocalist from Buy Jupiter and Dead Kiwis) and his massive energy in order to emphasize this feeling and it’s been a big pleasure for us to see the final results with those two combined vocals.”
Dukkha’s debut album offers plenty more thrilling djenty goodness including the huge Hiroshima. It opens with light synths before bursting into a barrage of heavy guitars that continue under savage screamed vocals. An ambient section sees stabbing guitars creep in and continue under wild spinning guitars, which give way to a delicious darting riff that continues under a huge scream. The pace picks up with a flying riff and pounding cymbals over vicious vocals then drops into another ambient section, before a huge darting riff brings this massive track to a close. Check it out here:
There’s more of the same on title track Legacy, which starts slowly but bursts into really cool stabbing high-pitched guitars then proggy guitars support big screamed vocals. That feeds into a big atmospheric section of a high-pitched lick and driving guitars and drums supporting brutal vocals.
And if you like big thick guitar riffs, then Road to Chernobyl, Pt.1 is absolutely the track for you. Just check out the disgracefully heavy riff that opens this track up and returns throughout:
The Dukkha sound is influenced by a wide range of bands. Maxim is big into After the Burial and Gojira, Fabien names Meshuggah and Hypno5e, while Jérôme is more Intervals and Tigran Hamasyan. Maxime names Karnivool and Sting as key influences and Julien says Lamb of God and Machine Head.
Dukkha tell us their music is written in an “in the moment” strategy. As they explain: “Fabien and Julien are usually the ones who come with the main compositions before everyone start working on it and those are often oriented around one large piece of instrumental music entirely written. There’s no particular influence except the bands we currently listen to in these moments. So we wake up on one of these blessed mornings and there’s that ‘Oh god, this pattern…’ feeling which happens and leads to 24-hour non-stop writing until the song seems over for a massive first draft.
“The main theme of our first concept album was the Four Nobles Truths of Buddhism and has been directly linked to the name of the band. Based on this framework of thought, we addressed engaged themes such as societal and environmental causes through the use of metaphors and poetry which would lead to reflection and interpretation.
“We’ll have a totally different approach for our future album, as each track will have its own storyline, and we love the way our writing has evolved over these past 3 years as much as the main idea we developed around these songs. We can’t wait to share it with everyone now!”
We haven’t featured too many French bands lately, so we asked the guys for their thoughts on their local scene. They told us: “
While everybody knows of course Gojira, the French Metal scene has seen a bunch of awesome bands rising over these past few years, like Hypno5e, Klone, Alcest, Igorrr, Kadinja, The Algorithm, Novelists FR, LANDMVRKS or Uneven Structures and it’s a blast to see how everything is growing despite the covid situation.
“Concerning the new Djent/Prog/Modern Metal scene, it seems like there’s a bigger support now from media and festivals than before, but also mostly between the bands themselves. When you know about the humongous amount of work you have to put in to make a Metal band work nowadays, it’s always reassuring to know that you can get help from close people about your next release and they won’t be spilling the beans about it as soon as they can.”
Dukkha are currently in the works of putting together their second album, which should be released this year and has taken a huge amount of effort. As they tell us: “2021 is a real milestone for Dukkha as it will see the release of our upcoming album, this is a pretty big deal for us as we’ve put a serious effort on it.
“We wanted to have the most organic production possible so we made a studio recording for classical instruments with our sound engineer Convulsound Productions, 30 microphones for the drumkit, a bunch of guests who made awesome work too. We teamed up with a sound designer for deep ambiances and with an amazing graphic artist for our artwork that we also can’t wait to share. We upgraded our lightshow and our video production in the meantime and we’ll have additional content and behind the scenes footages to reveal through this whole cycle, so we hope to see you around when everything is out!”
And there’s plenty more to come in addition to the album. As they add: “Above all, we miss playing live and being able to connect with people, which is one of the most important reasons why we’re doing this band and because our music is mainly written for being experienced live. We’re truly grateful for the support we’re receiving and we’re inviting everybody to join us in this journey, whether you’re a die-hard headbanging moshpit lover or if you’re more into deep feels and ambient styles.
“We’re all true hard workers and we’re always happy to have a talk with people or to receive feedback so, as we don’t know if the covid situation will let us play in front of a real audience soon, don’t hesitate to drop us a DM if you want to have a chat with us! By the way many of us are gamers so if some are interested in a PUBG session sometimes, feel free to DM us too.”