Dodecahedron are a Dutch Black metal outfit and this is their second album for Season of Mist.
I’ll admit that I was completely unaware of their existence prior to hearing ‘Kwintessens’, and the band’s name had led me to believe they were either some sort of “Math Metal” band or a new Pete Helmkamp project.
As it would turn out they’re neither, and actually play a chaotic and dissonant style of Black Metal of a kind that’s seemingly all the rage nowadays.
I can’t help but feel that the sub-genre will occupy a similar furrow in Black Metal history as Moonfog endorsed futuristic BM did 15 years or so ago. An interesting side note rather than a game changer.
Binge and Purged
With a lot of second wave Black Metal, no matter how ‘out there’ the music was, it was often still possible to pick out the debt they held to earlier bands in their genre.
It may be somewhat controversial to say this but pick any of your favourite 90s BM albums and there’s probably still a lot on there that pays homage in some way to that good old “beer drinking, base mindedness” that is heavy metal.
Dodecahedron though have seemingly purged anything pre-1990s from their sound. To paraphrase Fenriz this is very much a case of there being a whole lot of Black and not a lot of Metal.
So anyone expecting to headbang to catchy riffs should look elsewhere. It’s undoubtedly a very impressive release but not exactly a whole lot of fun, but I very much doubt that was the point. Who needs hooks when you can stare endlessly into the void?
To the band’s credit they have sought to make this album a varied experience in terms of tempo and variation and thus avoiding the dreaded ear fatigue that this sort of record can often bring about.
It would be easy to describe ‘Kwintessens’ as suffocating and all encompassing and that’s all well and good but there’s not a whole lot in the way of memorable songwriting going on; too often the guitars provide downtuned chugging and spiralling dissonant chords rather than anything resembling a conventional riff.
Maybe it’s just a personal taste thing but I prefer my Black Metal a bit riffier rather than guitars predominantly being used for texture.
Peaks And Valleys
Dodecahedron do deserve credit for how well put together this is as an album. As one would expect it works best as a whole rather than as any particular song or section and there are enough peaks and valleys to keep the album interesting throughout its 40+ minute duration.
There’s a lot to like on here for devotees of this style, vocalist M. Eikenaar in particular deserves praise for putting in a particularly vicious and scornful performance which elevates the album. Definite shades of Mortuus or Attila at his harshest.
The production’s certainly impressively detailed, whilst giving everything space to breathe but I could do with a slightly more ‘live’ sounding drum sound but that’s a very minor complaint.
At the end of the day how much you enjoy an album like this really boils down to what you want out of metal.
And for me personally, even at it’s most extreme I still want some hooks and dare I say traditional songwriting in what I listen to and I just don’t get that out of this. ‘Kwintessens’ is undoubtedly an impressive piece of work but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
2.9/5 – Tom Andrew ::: 23/12/16