The Alter Rebbe was the founding father of the Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty. He was also a prolific composer, who—in spite of not owning (and not knowing how to play) any instruments—composed several hundred nigunim, or wordless songs. These songs were meant to induce a trancelike, elevated spiritual state.
One wonders what the Alter Rebbe would have thought—or how he would have participated in—a concert of the jazz/metal band Deveykus, who covers the Alter Rebbe’s most famous (and eponymous) nigun with simmering cymbals, edge-of-your-seat guitars, and a sickeningly adept trombone on their first album, the just-released Pillar Without Mercy.
At 6 songs and nearly 60 minutes, the album is a brooding, rhythm-intensive monster, an unexpected but seamless potential companion to meditation or shuckeling, that silent swaying that accompanies prayer in many traditional circles. Front man and trombonist Dan Blacksberg calls his music “Hasidic doom metal.” He himself might not be a hasid—at least, not on the outside—but his music is deep, loud, hard, and unexpectedly enlightening.
Watch Deveykus perform Hasidic doom metal: