Dodecahedron - KwintessensIt’s quite in Dodecahedron‘s favor that the first thing that comes to mind when trying to introduce the band is the work of a philosopher they’re obviously fond of. Yet, far be it from me to play too easily into their hand, it’s not the Platonic solids I’m inspired to write of. It’s the philosopher’s views on the band’s own art form. Plato believed music to have distinct and repeatable power over the emotions; certain modes would evoke, joy, languor, sadness, or triumphant feelings. Two thousand years later, nearly all of today’s music can still be seen through a Platonic lens, reaching never too far away from the simplistic emotional categories into which Plato grouped the harmonai. Yet influential as he was, Plato missed a few types of music around the edges.

One of those missing categories: music that makes you want to vomit. Music that twists at your windpipe, turns your tongue to ash, that sucks the heat out of a room. Art that is not based on sadness or anger, but irreproachable malice. Dodecahedron make this. The Dutch black metal architects’ self-titled debut remains as unapproachable as it was when released five years ago, and the opening song, “Allfather” still brings me to physical discomfort.

Unlike DodecahedronKwintessens does not put its most provocative material at the fore; Dodecahedron can afford themselves a run-up. Whatever could be said about the album’s first two songs1 is inconsequential compared to the bleak magnificence of the third movement. “Hexahedron” completely disregards introduction, immediately lurching into the album’s first physically terrifying contrapuntal riff duo that slithers back and forth, slowly constricting the lungs. It is this album’s “Allfather,” a song simultaneously disturbing, complete, and unforgettable. The composition is immaculate, with enough repetition of that harrowing introduction to burrow it deep into the mind but remain impactful every time it’s recalled, and the ending develops slowly out of the same shapes that are present in the first moments of the piece. “Hexahedron” is as close as music comes to a genuine anxiety attack, where mortality closes in to just behind the eyes.

Just like DodecahedronKwintessens‘ long-form composition is one of gradual collapse, and sounds become more alien and obtuse as the album progresses. “Tetrahedron” sounds close to a Deathspell Omega cut, but the band experiments with brighter sounds, dense sound editing and reversals of previous themes past “Hexahedron.” “Dodecahedron” uses bright leads and custom instrumentation to create an atmosphere that’s split between the heavenly and the vulgar, ending with a snap-in block of harsh noise. The incongruously placed “Finale” takes an approach that I’d most comfortably call black-metal musique concrète, and is largely a collage of droning sounds, that heavenly atmosphere, and heavily distorted vocals which presage the album’s real finale.

Dodecahedron 2017

Kwintessens pushes the boundaries of editing in extreme metal, employing drastic chopping and rearrangement of sound, unlike any metal album I’ve heard. While other bands try to capture a live sound or gate their performances down to a grid, Dodecahedron seem to view the studio as neither a crutch nor an enemy, but as a compositional tool. The album’s vitreous, upfront tones and sharp bass are perfect for the job, but without the snap silences imposed in the studio, “Icosahedron” would not claw away quite so determinedly. Without the glass-cutter-like drones, the band could never accomplish some of these atmospheres. It strikes me that Kwintessens is almost entirely different from any album I’ve ever heard.

By moving beyond the paradigm of the “band,” Dodecahedron are producing music which possesses a scope that even their most accomplished peers, like Ulcerate and Deathspell Omega, have yet to match. This is metal with a question mark at the end of the phrase, music that doesn’t fit but creates a stark space for itself by pushing out against and tearing holes in the walls around it. Two albums in, Dodecahedron have fully established themselves as the most extreme and innovative musical group2 to be pushed under the black metal umbrella. Dodecahedron and Kwintessens command attention, demand to be picked apart, and deserve to be emulated.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: dodecahedron.bandcamp.com | ddchdrn.com | facebook.com/dodecahedron
Releases Worldwide: March 17th, 2017

 

Show 2 footnotes

  1.  They are by no means unimpressive.
  2. Jute Gyte is almost certainly more innovative, but one man does not a group make.

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  • beurbs

    There’s something in the water over at Season of Mist… between this, Disperse, Khonsu, Barishi etc it seems everything I’m loving lately is coming from that label

    • GardensTale

      I love Season of Mist. If they succeed, they do so spectacularly. If they fail, they do so interestingly at the very least.

      • Frost15

        Exactly. I will add the fact that I purchase albums very often from their store and they are kind, fast and generous. Best metal label nowadays by far IMO.

        • John Mosley

          They often send extra freebee albums with my order. Nice touch.

          • Wat. I bought a tonne of CDs from them last year and got nothing. Is this a vinyl only bonus or something? :(

          • John Mosley

            A couple time I bought CD’s and they included a couple extra unknown to me band CD’s and stickers, with no jewel case. I presume stuff that was not selling, but still cool.

        • Yeah, they’re good people. Helped me out when a black vinyl version of an album was out and gave me some options including a harder-to-find colored vinyl version, which I went for. And yeah, hooray Bandcamp!

      • They also Bandcamp. God Bless them.

        • Yeah, but $10/album feels a bit steep in comparison to other labels.

          Yes, I am a cheapskate, but other labels are usually $7-8, so $10 is mildly annoying. I’m still buying the damn album though as it’s fucking ace.

        • ssorg

          Any idea whether there’s a dedicated vinyl master? Just set up my office turntable….

          • That is a GREAT question. However, I don’t know.

  • GardensTale

    Here’s a good example of an album that could have been ruined by a louder production while simultaneously appearing to invite it. When the music is already this dense, lack of dynamics would be instant migraine territory. While I don’t yet know whether this is for me, even as I am listening to it, it’s not hard to see why the score. Great review!

  • Dudeguy Jones

    Oh man.. great review! Im waiting until tomorrow to hear this in full. Had high hopes and you just made them dangerously higher.

    If I have a negative reaction to this Im coming back to blame your review for raising too much enthusiasm. :P

  • El_Cuervo

    If ever there was a time to throw horns…

    m/

    • Dude, get it right: Slaaayyyyyyyyyyeeeerr! m/

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        He can deal.

  • [not a Dr]

    The first thing that comes to mind, is the good old barbarian’s greataxe damage dice: d12

  • manimal

    Love this band. The embedded track made me drop a platonic solid.

    • Ideally anyway…

  • Iliast

    Bravo. Dead on…it definitely broadens the territory of unorthodox metal of this order with confidence and grace.

  • Dr. Wvrm

    Great review man. The sample track is fucking killer.

  • Plato also missed the mood Andy Synn so articulatedly referred to as ‘meh’ not long ago.

  • a glass o’ milk

    this is a great piece of art. especially love these oddly geometric melodies

    • But is the geometry of this world, or is it *shivers* non-euclidean?

      • a glass o’ milk

        probably the latter :O

  • Gaëtan Baratin

    I was scared Dodecahedron’s sophomore album would not match the first one, because their debut was phenomenal. I was hyped nevertheless. Seeing this 4.5 makes me really fucking happy. It’s like the Vektor record. Just when I didn’t even think my expectations could be surpassed, these guys dropped an atomic bomb on my vision of metal.

    Thank you, Dodecahedron. You guys deserve the praise you get.

  • Eli Valcik

    One day, can’t wait. I love these guys.

  • sir_c

    Even though it is not an everyday kind of metal they play, the music sound pretty fuckin’ awesome. I have a sweet spot for avantgarde metal, especially when it’s still listenable. Thanks!

  • Excentric_13073

    I didn’t know Devin Townsend made black metal… (Track 6)

    • Totally. End of Track 3 sounds like Strapping Young Lad to me…I think maybe the song Japan is the one I’m thinking of…?

  • basenjibrian

    awesome. I had originally bought their s/t debut on CD and somehow lost or damaged it, so the media buzz about this one inspired a revisit to iTunes.
    I am utterly enthralled with this music. Which is an odd thing to say about such disturbing music, but there you are. :)

  • Grymm

    This absolutely batshit insane… and I love every second of it.

  • I was listening to this the other day at my house and felt the presence of spirits. These guys have a connection to some dark stuff

  • André Snyde Lopes

    You were researching Plato just for the sake of this review, weren’t you?

    • Martin Knap

      he wanted to write a *solid* review

  • DrewMusic

    I was not aware that Ulcerate and The Great Old Ones had made a baby, but it sure is horrifying and I love it. It’s also nice to hear something this spectacular after a week or so of weaker albums being reviewed; I’d been retreating to Moonsorrow and Ulver territories while impatiently awaiting the next new (to me) envelope pushers to appear, now it looks like I get to return to 2017 for a bit.

    • John Mosley

      Not a bad comparison there. Their debut blew me away.

      • DrewMusic

        TGO or Ulcerate? Because yes. I can’t get enough of that immensely devestating vibe that both bands churn out, along with Départe and Hope Drone to name a few others. Anything that sounds like the soundtrack to the apocalypse is gold in my book.

        • Finq

          Maybe check out the new Downfall of Gaia and Cranial as well.
          Both are fantastic.

          • DrewMusic

            I also loves me some DoG, dog, but I will certainly look into Cranial, thanks for the heads up!

          • Schmitzel

            Wow, never heard of Cranial before, cool find, thanks! Do they have anything more then the 2 songs on bandcamp?

          • Finq

            Yes, they have released a full album (only 40min though) early this year, it is called Dark Towers, Bright Lights.
            You can listen to it for free on Spotify.

          • Schmitzel

            Damn, here in the asshole of Europe we don’t get Spotify and it’s not available on GooglePlay. Maybe it will be soon…. Thanks again!

        • John Mosley

          I meant the Dodecahedron debut blew me away, but the first TGO did garner several spins. I discovered Ulcerate with Vermis then their back catalogue. Gorguts, Artificial Brain, and Ad Nauseam round out the skronky death metal genre for me.

          • DrewMusic

            Gotcha. I’d never heard of them prior to this review and just gave my monies to Départe, Ulcerate and Sólstafir, but I’m thinking this current album will be claiming more next week, most likely along with aforementioned debut album.
            Sidenote, the world needs to know how happy I am that I was still able to order Failure, Subside on vinyl just now. Dragged my feet on Mizmor and TGOO and thus missed out, and there were only like 8 of the black F,S vinyls left. Got the other two purchases as CD’s, today’s been almost too successful.

  • Name’s Dalton

    And why wasn’t this a 5.0?

    • Kronos

      I expected it to be this good.

      • Varun Dixit

        Intelligent reply indeed

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        nice

      • Varun Dixit

        But you must have expected it to be unexpectable and you were expectedly right. That’s the paradox in the first place.

  • ragman

    ….(sigh)……
    This shit fuckin blows.

    • Dudeguy Jones

      Im curious as to why you think that. Not that I think you should like this, or that I’d even want to convince you. Im just curious as you had an extreme response and Im always curious what people like otherwise. So what doesn’t blow to you? Whats a top record of the year? Is it the style altogether? The genre?

      Not trying to incite, genuine curiosity.

      • herrschobel

        you are too nice about this….the man is using Eddie as an Avatars..he can take some blows himself…

        • DrewMusic

          At the same time, clarification is wildly necessary on the interwebz. If people see that you not only disagree but do so with more than five words and zero emojis, more often than not that is all they will see and thus react defensively, arbitrarily assuming that you must be ranting at them. I say yay for manners, boo for internet.

          • herrschobel

            yeah sure..but i still believe that most people blow themselves so i am not always nice…and usually you find the people that get the joke…but if someone really thinks this record blows or is “shit” i don´t care about the multiverse, pluralism or all that other good stuff…i will, and cannot take this person serious …u seem allright tough …;-)))…;-):-):-PPP:-///:–._-I– XOXO

          • DrewMusic

            I more or less agree with you, my point was more acknowledging another facet of the overall conversation. By all means, dismissiveness should only warrant and beget dismissiveness. However, the interwebs has become this horrid, calloused-handed global circle jerk of people feeding into mindless negativity that just gets propagated and intensified with every little ‘just because’ keyboard duel. My rage against the machines doesn’t come from some new-age New Age shit about vibes or karma, it’s more that I feel like we should know and be better at this by now and instead we’re killing our languages. I feel like a parent watching their (entirely too many) children constantly and deliberately hurting and impeding themselves, thus I’m often compelled to throw my 2 cents in in the hopes that somehow something I’m saying sticks with someone.
            I have seen you handle more than a few potential interweb communication breakdowns with a sense of poise and rationality (yup) a time or two, so I will say it is nice to know that hope isn’t lost yet.
            Rabble rabble rabble.

          • herrschobel

            i agree in all points. yes, we should be better at this. We should be better at so many things at this stage and it never ceases to amaze and depress me how bad it still gets sometimes.

            to quote Depeche Mode (here ? yes !)

            We are not there yet
            We have lost our soul
            The course has been set
            We’re digging our own hole

            We’re going backwards
            Armed with new technology
            Going backwards
            To a caveman mentality

          • herrschobel

            by the way…if you happen to enjoy some good old fashioned Punk every once i a while check out IDLES ‘Brutalism’…i love love loooooove that record..makes me wanna smash stuff and go bananas…which is always a good sign

      • Lucas Lex DeJong

        Not the guy you’re responding to, but from my own perspective, after following more experimental and challenging forms of metal for a few years, I look back and honestly barely revisit many of them and get bored of it. It’s like comparing a Von Trier film to the MCU. Sure, one is pushing boundaries and challenging the audience, and the other is popcorn entertainment, but which one am I more likely to still throw on during a fun night in a decade down the line?

        • Dudeguy Jones

          Ha.. Well thanks for your response! You will now stand in as the ragman in this conversation, since he deigns to revisit the article.

          I think you do have an interesting point. Theres many vectors for why something is great. And some of that is, undoubtedly, how impressed we are with the actual feat, the acrobatics involved, in making such intense and complex music. And theres also no doubt that you can use this as your standard for all things great and mighty.

          But you raise a huge point. I love being challenged, but I also love.. for lack of a better statement… slipping into something more comfortable. Hehe. Which is why Carcass remains so important to me after all these years. And I mean melo-Carcass. Though even a densely knotted album like Necroticism still feels tuneful by many standards of todays extreme metal.

          In the end, I like both, for different reasons and different times. And depending on that mood I can react more or less to certain aspects.

          Timing, in essence, is everything for me.

          • ragman

            “I love being challenged”

            Challenged = listening to something that sucks and pretending to like it.

            This is why jazz is “challenging”. Everyone knows it sucks , but only pretentious faggots pretend to like it.

      • ragman

        There are very few black metal bands that sound like black metal anymore. Black metal is a tough balance between melody and abrasive brutality. Too much emphasis on melody and it risks being sappy or happy sounding. Not enough melody and it risks being boring and forgettable. For an example of bands that do it right, I would suggest almost any band from the 90s. Or for a more recent well known, I would suggest MGLA.

        If it were merely a case of bands not being able to create this sound any more it would be one thing. But increasingly bands aren’t even trying. They just try to be weird.

        Anybody can be weird. I can fart and play the kazoo, and it would be “unique” or “challenging”. That doesn’t make it worthwhile.

        I guess that’s the problem with most black metal nowadays including this band. It’s not worth the time.

        There is absolutely nothing about this CD that is remotely memorable or makes me want to listen again. It is literally time that I wish I spent doing something else. Time that I won’t ever get back.

        If it sounds like I feel strongly about it’s because I feel like I got duped into wasting my time listening to this stupid shit…..again.

  • Adrian Rigter

    What a monster. makes me think of Kenose-era Deathspell Omega, Aklys and a tiny bit of old Emperor.

    Joins Bathsheba, The Great Old Ones & (maybe) Svart Crown on my very early top ten list.

  • Gage

    I… I don’t get it. Then again, I don’t get most black metal.

    I think I’ll just go back to listening to the new Wormwood album

  • Holy crap, this album’s intense. Glad there’s some dynamics, otherwise the heavy stuff would get hard to bare pretty quickly…

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Early contender for AotY… Feels like 2017 is starting to kick into gear

  • Lee

    Aural claustrophobia in a Thantifaxath sorta way. Love it. Thanks for spending my money AMG! My wife hates you

    • Artander

      Thantifaxath, yep.

  • Jrod1983

    Stellar album, and a great review as usual.

  • Elton Chagas

    “Two albums in, Dodecahedron have fully established themselves as the most extreme and innovative musical group to be pushed under the black metal umbrella.”

    I need to say something about that: SPECTRAL LORE.

    • Artander

      What do you mean? SPECTRAL LORE does not strike me as treading similar grounds… This is not a competition :)

  • herrschobel

    my goodness this is true beauty….at last i have found ye !

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Frightening stuff, but in a good way. “THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER!!?!!”. I had to go listen to the poofy-haired Dutchman’s Victims of the Modern Age after streaming Kwintessens, just to calm my nerves.

    Kwintessential Dodecahedron.

  • Artander

    Dunno about the physical discomfort (music that makes you want to vomit??), but loved the last paragraph of the review. Indeed this ranks among the very best metal has to offer, moving beyond the accomplishments of revered oufits such as DSO or Ulcerate… This unquestionably “commands attention, demands to be picked apart, and deserves to be emulated” (so nicely put). A well needed change from so many lukewarm albums that get so many undeserved accolades and keep metal stuck in the past (Khemmis? Pain of Salvation??? C’mon…). AOTM for march, dear sirs. And possibly AOTY (runner up, URRACA by SUNLESS).

  • Ein Sophistry

    Yep…this is amazeballs.

  • A big dose of respect can be found in your words, Kronos.

    My impression is that most of reviews (and reviewers) have this slightly condescending tone (nothing wrong in the sea of 2.5s and 3.0s), and here I can feel that you’re dealing with serious Art… and the size of capital „A” is even a little intimidating. I’m intrigued, all the more that other reviewers also emphasize how innovative this album is.
    Tomorrow I’ll be looking for this in music stores.

    Prepare for gray mud texture as a page background (maybe twice)…

    • Kronos

      The album art really is terrible. Thank you for your kind words.

      • Matthew

        I think ‘terrible’ is a little too strong. It’s not terrible, it’s just not memorable. It’s not actively ugly.

        • Kronos

          I would agree, actually.

          • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

            I actually really like it.

            It’s understated, but not just “black metal black cover” understated. But rewarding to pay attention to.

  • You wot m8?

    My thoughts exactly. I loved the original, and I’m loving this. Even though it was but hours ago that Kwintessens was released, I already can’t wait for what Dodecahedron come out with next. As has been discussed on this blog before, the sophmore album is what really defines if a band is more than a one trick pony. And holy fucking shit, if that’s not what’s been done here, then I don’t even fucking know.

    Love this band. Love this blog. Love this blog’s love for this band. ggwp

  • contenderizer

    Splendid! Ordered immediately on listening to the linked track (which only hints at the full writhing malevolence in store). Instant AOY contender that maybe, almost justifies the “watch your back, Ulcerate” hyperbole.

  • Bortman Begins

    I’d listened to this album once or twice in passing and not thought much of it (the downside of multi-tasking while listening to new music I guess). But after reading this review, I’m clearly going to need to sit down and devote my full attention to it. Thanks Kronos!

  • John Mosley

    Solid album. Less claustrophobic than their last one. Borderline accessible on certain tracks. Vocal styles have changed. Less roaring in the background more chanting across the riffs irrespective of tempo. I dig it.

  • Thatguy

    I was reserving comment until I listened to this – and re-listened to the previous one. This is a big step forward. It is strange and creepy like the last one, but more coherent and more musically interesting.

    Worthy of a 4.5.

    • You wot m8?

      Was there really any doubt?

  • Dirty G

    Love the first record
    This one sounds like a winner too
    Season of Mist is on fire in 2017, of all the major labels, I think they have the best productions.
    Great review

  • Matthew

    By far the best album so far of 2017 in my view.

  • Whoreyeson

    Plebeian Grandstand to anyone looking for another band who absolutely nail this “sound”

  • DrewMusic

    A few days of spinning the album and my head, and I have my first no-brainer AotM of 17, looking like a stroooong contender for AotY. This month has fuckin owned especially the midpoint.
    Beware the Ides of March, indeed, they came and we all went broke shortly thereafter.

  • JohnC

    I feel like an outlier but I listened to the embedded track and a few others and I’m not getting the hype. I can see how it’s excellent at executing what it’s aiming to be but I guess what it’s aiming to be is just not my cup of tea. Shame, because for me it’s one of those things I want to like but just can’t.

  • Sophocles

    Hevy Devy called. He wants his riffs back…

  • AnnieK13

    In all honesty at 20 or so seconds in I didn’t think I was going to like this but at the end of the track I found myself hitting play again. I think I need to check out the whole album…

  • ElephantsMarching

    I expected the “slowly constricting your lungs” business to be metaphorical or hyperbolic. NOPE. This shit is real. Damn, hexahedron is something else, and this whole album. I am really grateful for the dynamics on the album, because sustained brutality like that makes something totally fascinating too much to bear. This is… just enough to bear. Solid.

  • Wish you embed 6th Track; it’s sublime!

  • Guest

    It’s a decent album, from a promising band, but this material is nowhere near as engaging, forward thinking or atmospheric as works such as Kenose, FAS, Paracletus or The Destroyers of all. I was expecting something a lot more progressive; chunks of this sound like riffs Ihsahn left on the cutting room floor when writing Prometheus, mixed with fairly amateurish and jarring ‘ambient’ sections. The vocals are borderline obnoxious, too. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them, but they currently sound like pastiche of the bands they clearly worship, without the compositional chops.