Dodecahedron – Kwintessens (2017) – Review

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Something creates dark, foreboding atmospheres. Cold, empty spaces filled with noisy dissonance to chill your soul with frozen hydrogen.

And no doubt you need this type of a wall of sound if a record takes off with something called The Culling of the Unwanted from the Earth.1) Equally, if the main actor goes by the name of ‘The Entity’.

Dark and grey, a landscape of bleak winds that howl hauntingly through the low-lying mists. The mists that just about hide the sharp-toothed monsters within. Well, hells bells, that’s quite a piece of work, now ain’t it? In truth, Kwintessens of Dodecahedron got swiftly banned to a far corner of the RMR offices for a few months.

The crime?

Exaggerated dissonance at an unknown scale. Only to come back to haunt us these dark days of the unholy year of 2017. Because it finally dawned on the RMR crew that this record is indeed worth the waste of a few drops of (very) black ink. And fuck you, band! Now you made RMR listen to sick shit like Deathspell Omega and Akhlys all over again. Only yours is so much better.

Well, go figure, I thought the latter were good already. 

Kwintessens – the band’s sophomore album – will try to drive you insane straight from note numba one. The record displays this type of geekery that usually will get the band and their unholy production thrown out of the room, and swiftly deleted from any and all sound devices.

But then again, this is a visceral record. The THING that talks to the darkest abode of your dying soul. And it is this dark thing in all of its terror-laden splendor that lets you plod on with the record. The story fits with the music perfectly too, and it is equally dark and foreboding. 

Then you get the technical aspects.

True, some bands, mostly in the Progressive Metal field like Haken or Leprous got themselves a cold reception from the RMR deck crew due to undue and forced technicalities. The Dutch band Dodecahedron will however definitely qualify for the geeky wonk award on this specific theme. Because they don’t only try to impress with technique.

Part of their mastery is the projection of emotion. Deep, dark emotion – true. But both – technique and emotion – must coexist. This, in turn, will breed authenticity. And some of the progressive folks forgot about that one big time. This is why this band’s foray into the Technical Black Metal nirvana does not penalize the final judgment of the record.

And truly, the complexity of Kwintessens continually astounds the ear.

From artful and creative use of synthesizers to complex, but never overwhelming drumming patterns, to guitar shreds and palm mutations, you get it all. Sometimes this sounds like one of those horror movies, just before the catastrophe strikes. And this for 41 long minutes of terror. Add to that Black Metal rasps and screams of all types, monologues, and – behold – some demon talking to you. Sometimes this feels like a haunted multi-dimensional bubble that appeared for some reason in our world.

Dodecahedron definitely pushes boundaries with a progressive mix of Avant-Garde and Black Metal. And I have trouble finding sound-alikes to Kwintessens. Even if you get similarities to bands like Cryptae, Vanad Varjud, or Hope Drone at times, whatever slight they may be. The amount of dissonant disharmony amazes right from the start. You’ll even get through the intro without realizing that it is one.

Yet, you will find out that the first two tracks Prelude and Tetrahedron: The Culling of the Unwanted from the Earth are just warm-ups. The real deal starts with the excellent Hexahedron: The Tilling of the Human Soil. This one lures you into some sort of security with the most coherent parts of the album, just to descend into a mayhem of sounds like so many steely space rocks. the track indeed sounds in places like an extreme version of the latest of Todgeglichter times five. 

Now, it is interesting how the sound becomes more disheveled as the record moves through the second half. And indeed, this type of disjointed bedlam is part of the story and design.

In the first few tracks, you might (just might) detect a slight resemblance of harmony. Whereas, as of Interlude, the record crosses the Styx to the metal underworld into unchecked disharmony. And by Loki, the switch is skillfully done.

The way Dodecahedron makes this primeval protoplasm called The Entity come to life in XII Dodecahedron An Ill-Defined Air of Otherness disconcerts the mind of the listener. A dreary soundscape painted in shades of icy grey as cold as Hel’s realm. True Lovecraft-esque fashion, beyond the cold wastelands of Kadath. Way beyond.

So, I think you got it.

Kwintessens is not for classical music lovers yearning for harmony and sweet, soft sounds. On the contrary, Dodecahedron take us on a rough journey of dark, dissonant soundscapes. A realm of Extreme Metal into which not even the informed metalhead often ventures. Down into the abyss where The Entity dwells tilling the human soil ’till the death of your body.

Kwintessens carves a space out of its own dark and disturbing league. With greatly orchestrated junks of brutally sharp metal, hellish cocktails of white-hot riffs, atmospheric sounds, and demonic rasps. Yet, all of that messy dissonance still is coherent, and – indeed – Dodecahedron tells a story. And it tells it well. Dark and stark, rough and sharp. And it will freeze your soul, make no mistake. 

Ed’s note: The record made it onto the Intermittent Digest – Tome VI edition AND the 2017 Top 10 Records. Oh, and if you are looking for some similarly dissonant piece, try some Palus Somni or Norse.

Record Rating: 8/10 | Label: Season of Mist | Web: Official Site
Release date: 17 March 2017


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