17th March 2017 – Season Of Mist
02. Tetrahedron – The Culling Of The Unwanted From The Earth
03. Hexahedron – Tilling The Human Soil
05. Octahedron – Harbinger
06. Dodecahedron – An ill-Defined Air Of Otherness
08. Icosahedron – The Death Of Your Body
Five years after their self-titled debut record, Dutch experimental black metal extraordinaires Dodecahedron have finally returned with their hotly anticipated second album Kwintessens. Melding the blast beats and grim, tremolo picked riffs of black metal with industrial noise, horror soundscapes and an incredibly unsettling yet uniquely futuristic atmosphere, many heads in the metal underground were turned upon the release of their debut, garnering it a somewhat cult classic buzz.
It goes without saying then that expectations were set extremely high for their future releases and it can be said with great pleasure that Kwintessens is the follow up album that not only fans needed, but that black metal in general needed. Not to overstate it, but Dodecahedron really have pulled through with a second chapter of bleak, discordant genius.
From a purely instrumental perspective it is instantly obvious that Dodecahedron have upped the ante in their performances, as well as in their overall song and album structuring. The dissonant layers of guitars fight like writhing snakes, creating a sense of alien chaos like no other band in the genre, but they have also managed to introduce a more conventional sense of melody to many of the tracks giving Kwintessens an incredible sonic balance. This is particularly noticeable on “Dodecahedron – An Ill-Defined Air Of Otherness“, which could almost be described as uplifting towards the back end of the track and features a serene, hazy ambient section in the middle, showing their constant desire for experimentation. On top of this, the dynamic drumming and various layers of noise and clean guitars in “Octahedron – Harbinger” creates an almost improvisational air to the music and gives you an idea of what it might be like to sit in on a free-jazz/black metal jam session in your local neighbourhood haunted insane asylum. Just in case you were curious.
While many elements of their melodic philosophy are carried forward and evolved from their debut album, even a brief glance at the track listing will give listeners an idea that Kwintessens will be quite a different affair. The five main tracks are named after the five platonic solids and flow for the most part as a single musical movement giving Kwintessens a stronger feel of a concept album compared to their debut. They execute this superbly with the recurring metallic, noise inspired sound design in the “Prelude” and “Finale” interlude tracks, as well as a rhythmic motif that is introduced in “Tetrahedron – The Culling Of The Unwanted From The Earth” and reprised in “Dodecahedron – An Ill-Defined Air Of Otherness“. Add an incredibly compact set of lyrics that contemplate religion, philosophy, the limits of human knowledge and the existential horror and blind futility of life, and you’ve got yourself a pretty exciting blueprint for the black metal album of 2017.
But Dodecahedron do more than just use the concept album, single-track flow format in a black metal context here. They twist it out of shape, contort it to breaking point to suit their own demented needs, subverting the listeners expectations on the final two tracks “Finale” and “Icosahedron – The Death Of Your Body” which mark a dramatic shift in the album’s tone. Not only do these tracks take a completely different melodic direction, but they also end the album in such a terrifyingly jarring way that on first listen it would hardly be surprising if fans were left confused. But with multiple repeat listens the reality begins to sink in that this could be the only possible conclusion to such a hellish album. The raspy growls of vocalist Michiel Eikenaar seem particularly fitting at this stage of the record: “No prayer from the west nor the east could save you from your megalomania…prowling and yearning, you will die”, as if to hammer the final rusty nail in the coffin and to deny the listener any conventional form of musical closure as the album grinds to an abrupt halt.
Kwintessens is a record that benefits from multiple listens, with new elements being unearthed on each, blooming like a deadly hemlock flower. If you are tired of the usual black metal dirge or are at all interested in the more experimental corners of the genre then Kwintessens is essential listening – although it may induce an untimely existential crisis. Approach with caution.