02. I, Chronocrator
04. Descending Jacob’s Ladder
05. View from Hverfell I: Head Above the Heavens
06. View from Hverfell II: Inside Omnipotent Chaos
07. View from Hverfell III: A Traveller of the Seed of the Earth
[Season of Mist]
It’s not like it’s some big new revelation that black metal is one of the most unsettling genres out there. Some of the most controversial, confrontational, and extreme records of all time have emerged from its depths, and while it’s not my particular cup of tea, there has been some work coming out that is so unsettling and bizarre that I have to show my appreciation. Bands like Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega have set quite the precedent in their abstract approach at the genre and influencing an avant-garde niche to grow, and Dutch newcomers Dodecahedron are following in those footsteps with their self-titled debut record.
Post-black metal and blackgaze are “in” right now, so Dodecagedron may find some comfort in this new wave of interest in the genre. Sure, these guys run the gamut from abrasive and confrontational to atmospheric and pensive. Their last.fm page even has them tagged as shoegaze and atmospheric black metal, but Dodecahedron is a far cry from being similar to the mellow tones of Alcest and like-minded projects. As previously mentioned, Dodecahedron align themselves with the likes of Deathspell Omega in their off-kilter approach at black metal, building up a strangely melodic atmosphere against a bed of dissonance and progressive structure.
Dodecahedron is definitely an eerie and unsettling album. Take for instance the opening track ‘Allfather,’ which takes a psychedelic turn with a tribal drum and bass pattern driving under razor-like guitar leads and vocalist M. Eikenaar groaning in agony. ‘Vanitas,’ sees Eikenaar screaming through a vocodor while the band writhes about in a dirge. The most odd and horrifying is ‘Descending Jacob’s Ladder,‘ which is essentially maddening spoken word against an dark ambient backdrop.
The album’s highlight is definitely in the three-part track ‘View from Hverfell,” with each three parts having its own distinct nuance. ‘I: Head Above the Heavens’ is a powerful and frantic blackened assault leading up to ‘II: Inside Omnipotent Chaos,‘ which toys with the band’s shoegaze influence. ‘III: A Traveller of the Seed of the Earth‘ is the best outro this album could have had, seeing Dodecahedron at their most melodic. The band ultimately weaves almost atonal guitar melodies out of chaos into something strangely captivating and triumphant, like seeing the surviving breath of a creature once thought defeated from underneath a thick layer of tar and ash.
This is not your typical black metal album. The technical musicianship is complex and the songwriting is enigmatic; there are many black metal bands out there that rely on tremolo picked riffs and blast beats as far as the eye can see. Dodecahedron is a shapeshifter that has top-notch production that leaves every facet of the band’s sound—bass included—completely audible and clear all while keeping an overall raw sound.
With Dodecahedron, it’s always darkest before the dawn. A big theme seems to be the intense clash between cacophony and harmony, and the band does well in striking a balance between the two. Dodecahedron may be newcomers borrowing a page or two from like-minded bands that blazed the trail of avant-garde black metal before them, but with a first impression this strong, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more bands borrowing a few pages out of the Dodecahedron playbook in the next decade.
Listen to ‘Allfather’ below:
Dodecahedron – Dodecahedron gets…