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Music / Dälek

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From Left-to-Right: DJ rEK, MC Dälek, Mike Manteca
Dälek (pronounced "die-a-leck") are an experimental hip hop band from Newark, New Jersey. They are well known for helping to pioneer the genre of industrial hip hop in the late 90's and early 2000's. They have an extremely heavy, aggressive, and experimental sound, incorporating elements of industrial music, noise, shoegaze, ambient, and extreme metal, paired with angry, socially conscious lyrics which rail against government and religion. The band is currently composed of MC Dälek, Mike Manteca, and DJ Rek.

Not to be confused with the popular Omnicidal Maniac alien race from Doctor Who, whose name lacks an umlaut and is pronounced roughly as it looks.


  • Negro Necro Nekros (1998)
  • From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots (2002)
  • Derbe Respect, Alder (2004, collaboration with Faust)
  • Absence (2005)
  • Deadverse Massive Vol. 1: dälek Rarities 1999-2006 (anthology, 2007)
  • Abandoned Language (2007)
  • Gutter Tactics (2009)
  • Untitled (2010; recorded in 2005, between Absence and Abandoned Language)
  • Asphalt for Eden (2016)
  • Endangered Philosophies (2017)
  • Respect to the Authors (2019, EP)
  • Live from Deadverse Studios in Exile: Meditations No. 1 (2020)
  • Meditations No. 2 (2020)
  • Meditations No. 3 (2020)
  • Meditations No. 4: Knowledge Over Nonsense (2020)
  • Meditations No. 5 (2020)
  • Meditations No. 6 (2020)
  • Meditations No. 7 (2020)
  • Precipice (2022)


  • Will Brooks (Vocals, production)
  • Mike Manteca (Electronics, production)
  • DJ Rek (Electronics, production)

Past members:

  • DJ Oktopus (Production)
  • Still (Production)

This band provides examples of:

  • Album Intro Track: "Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children's Heads Against a Rock", which samples an infamous speech by Pastor Jeremiah Wright condemning the US for its many atrocities throughout history while arguing that 9/11 was karmic backlash.
  • all lowercase letters: Their name is usually stylized like this.
  • Anti-Police Song: "A Beast Caged", which criticizes the prison system.
  • Badass Baritone: Will Brooks has a very deep voice.
  • Badass Boast: It's hip hop, so this is almost a given. "Shattered" has a pretty good example near the end.
    "You can call me Mr. Brooks, you already know my pen name."
  • Boastful Rap: Not as often as many other rappers, but they indulge in this now and then.
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  • Boléro Effect: "Abandoned Language" uses this so much it's practically a Post-Rock song with rapping over it. Other songs use this fairly extensively too, particularly on Abandoned Language.
  • Breather Episode: "Antichristo" on From Filthy Tongue..., "Absence" and "Koner" on Absence.
  • Conscious Hip Hop: A very dark, confrontational, and pessemistic take on the genre.
  • Darker and Edgier: Musically, they're probably one of the biggest examples in hip hop. Back in the early 2000's, nothing in the genre was this heavy. Within their discography, From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots and especially Absence qualify.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "Black Smoke Rises" is about this.
  • Drone of Dread: Frequently incorporated into their beats - in fact, it's rarely not a component of them. In particular, "Black Smoke Rises" is almost nothing but this, and almost every song on Abandoned Language and Gutter Tactics has this as a major component as well. "3:46" also stands out as a particularly extreme example even by Dälek's standards; it practically qualifies as Harsh Noise.
  • Epic Rocking: They've got some pretty long cuts by hip hop standards, with song lengths averaging at about six minutes. The longest is Untitled, which is a single song clocking in at 44 minutes, which is pretty much unheard of in hip-hop. Other tracks above the seven-minute mark:
    • Negro Necro Nekros: "Three Rocks Blessed" (7:45), "Images of .44 Casings" (10:27), "Praise Be the Man" (12:01)
    • From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots: "Black Smoke Rises" (12:02), "Forever Close My Eyes" (7:49)
    • Derbe Respect, Alder: "Imagine What We Started" (7:03), "Dead Lies" (8:28), "Bullets Need Violence" (8:14)
    • Absence: "In Midst of Struggle" (7:44), "Opiate the Masses" (7:24)
    • Deadverse Massive: "Music for ASM" (16:37), "Back to Burn" (7:34)
    • Abandoned Language: "Abandoned Language" (10:13)
    • Gutter Tactics: "Who Medgar Evers Was..." (8:04)
    • Asphalt for Eden: "Masked Laughter (Nothing Left)" (7:00)
    • Endangered Philosophies: "A Collective Cancelled Thought" (7:07)|
    • Meditations No. 1: "Meditation Part 1" (14:31), "Meditation Part 2" (9:18), "We Will Always Hold Here" (10:04), "Deft" (9:37)
    • Meditations No. 3: "Elekt" (7:13), "Almost Time" (7:43)
    • Meditations No. 5: "But That Does Not Mean We Are Too" (14:31), "This Is Where It's At" (9:50)
    • Meditations No. 6: "When at Last We Draw That Final Breath" (12:36)
    • Meditations No. 7: "Dreamless Sleep" (9:00), "Moments Lost" (7:00), "Withdrawn" (13:44)
  • Face Death with Dignity: "Forever Close My Eyes" is both this and a Despair Event Horizon.
  • Fading into the Next Song: An awful lot of their songs; in particular, Absence is pretty much entirely gapless. Due to their unconventional song structures, it is sometimes difficult to determine where one song ends and another begins without actually looking at the track display.
  • Genre-Busting: Noise, ambient, industrial, modern classical, Trip Hop, shoegaze, Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Krautrock, Post-Rock, Indian music, and even extreme metal are all influences on their music. They're almost more of a metal band than a rap band, as they've released an album on Profound Lore Records, which is a metal label, and have opened for metal bands like Isis, Godflesh, Jesu, tool, Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Earth, and Melvins in the past, along with frequently having their albums reviewed by metal sites. Oktopus and MC dälek also collaborated with seminal metalcore band Starkweather on their album This Sheltering Night. Despite all this, they're ambivalent about having their music categorised as anything but hip-hop, noting that early in the genre's history, it was commonplace for DJs to sample all sorts of sounds (perhaps due to Unbuilt Trope and Early-Installment Weirdness), but the genre got boxed into more of a defined sound as time went on. MC dälek explained:
    It's purely hip-hop, in the purest sense. If you listen to what hip-hop has historically been, it was all about digging in different crates and finding different sounds, and finding different influences to create. If Afrika Bambaataa wasn't influenced by Kraftwerk, we wouldn't have "Planet Rock." So, in that sense, what we do is strictly hip-hop.

    If there is a difference, it's that the palette of sounds we work with is more varied than what has been called hip-hop in the last 10 years. Somehow, as hip-hop grew, it's been put into this box. I think it's funny when people are like, "That's not hip-hop. It's this and this and this." You can try to rationalize it as whatever you want to rationalize it as.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: A few vocal passages on Abandoned Language are heavily processed, with the treble turned way down. This has the effect of making it sound like you're hearing MC dälek from underwater or through a wall, and makes it very difficult to understand what he's saying.
  • Industrial Hip-Hop: Along with Kanye West circa Yeezus, Death Grips, clipping., and JPEGMAFIA, they are among the most famous proponents of the style. They are, however, apathetic at best to the label and vehemently resistant at worst, refusing to be referred to as anything other than hip-hop and citing hip-hop's original emphasis on being creative and finding a way to do whatever you wanted to do as their main ethos.
  • Instrumental: They have a few; "Music for ASM", "Back to Burn", and "Imagine What We Started" are probably the longest.
  • Jump Scare: "Heads" has about a minute of anxious droning before it suddenly erupts into a cacophonous, jazzy drum solo. This is then followed by "Black Smoke Rises".
  • Lighter and Softer: Abandoned Language is mildly less cacophonous and distorted than the band's preceding two albums, though it is by no means light fare compared to most other hip-hop. Untitled and Asphalt for Eden are also mild cases in the context of the band's discography.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: They often have only a few minutes of lyrics in songs that go on for ten minutes or longer. "Black Smoke Rises" is almost certainly the most extreme example by far, though.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Opiate the Masses" is a reference to Karl Marx's frequently misunderstood aphorism that religion is the opiate of the masses.
  • Long Title: Several, with the longest being From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots, "Ruin It, Ruin Them, Ruin Yourself, Then Ruin Me", "Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children's Heads Against a Rock", "A Collection of Miserable Thoughts Laced with Wit", "But That Does Not Mean We Are Too", "The Apparatus Is Behind a Symphony of Shadows", and "When at Last We Draw That Final Breath".
  • Loudness War: Likely used deliberately as a form of Sensory Abuse, though they're far from the most extreme example out there. Many of the quiet passages still have dynamic range, but when they get loud, boy do they get loud.
    • Averted on many of the Meditations records - No. 1 is DR12, No. 3 is DR11, and No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7 are all DR9, although a few tracks play the trope straight ("But That Does Not Mean We Are Too" is DR4 and "A Solemn March" is DR5).
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Distorted Prose" has about half a minute of Brooks rapping A Cappella before the beat comes in.
  • Mind Screw: A lot of their trippy instrumental passages have this effect. For that matter, so do many of their vocal passages, particularly when the beats and instrumentation are taken into account. Really, just their work as a whole.
  • New Sound Album: While their overall style remains mostly intact from album to album, each album nonetheless maintains some fairly unique characteristics within the context of their discography, such as the droning, dreamlike atmosphere of Abandoned Language or the unusually intense cacophony of Absence.
  • Nightmare Face: The cover of From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots, which resembles weird street graffiti.
  • Protest Song: Quite a few of them - arguably most of their discography, in fact.
  • Religion Rant Song: Several, most notably "Spiritual Healing" and "Opiate the Masses."
    "Genocide from Genesis to last chapter"
  • Sampling: Used often, usually from speeches given by politicians or news reports on TV. They also sample some fairly unusual choices of music for a hip-hop act, such as Miles Davis' "Blue in Green" and John Coltrane's "Configuration" in "The Untravelled Road", and Gustav Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War" in "Swollen Tongue Burns".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Classical Homicide" has Brooks saying "How many MCs know who Faust is?" Faust is an acknowledged musical influence on the band, and they even recorded an album with them. How many rappers can say that?
    • "Who Medgar Evers Was..." is a tribute to the murdered civil rights activist of the title.
    • "Control" samples Noam Chomsky discussing his book Manufacturing Consentnote , which is about mass media's manipulation of public opinion, the topic of the song. It also refers to Black Lives Matter.
  • Singer Name Drop: When they bring up their band name, it's usually a stealth version of this trope, fairly unusually for hip-hop; they often use the word "dialect", which is pronounced like the band name with an added trailing "t", instead of their actual name. Brooks mentions his actual name a few times as well.
  • Subdued Section: Many of their songs have these. In particular, they often close out their longer songs with them.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Sometimes they employ backmasked vocal samples; one example comes at the end of "Praise Be the Man".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Forever Close My Eyes" is the most obvious example. "Music for ASM" and "It Just Is" probably qualify too.
  • Trope Codifier: Arguably for industrial hip hop. They predate Death Grips by over a decade.