By Justin C. I really liked Dodecahedron's debut album, although I found it to be a bit uneven at times. Some tracks stretched a bit too long without a tight enough focus, particularly in the first half of the album. That said, the final three tracksBy Justin C.
|Cover art by M. Eikenaar.|
I really liked Dodecahedron's debut album, although I found it to be a bit uneven at times. Some tracks stretched a bit too long without a tight enough focus, particularly in the first half of the album. That said, the final three tracks of that album, "View from Hverfell I-III," more than made up for any earlier dalliances and truly showed what this band could do. If you haven't listened to them, do that now. Click that link up there. I'll wait for you.
Now back to the new album, Kwintessens. I poked around on the interwebs a little to see if the band talked about the subject matter of the lyrics at all (more on that to come), but what I did find is that EVERY review you'll read will either compare them directly to Deathspell Omega or go out of its way to mention that you shouldn't make direct comparisons to Deathspell Omega. I'm going to strike the middle ground, because bands like Deathspell Omega and Krallice immediately came to mind as touch points for Dodecahedron. That said, we're talking about a familial resemblance at most. Yes, Dodecahedron make dissonant black metal their home, but you're not getting Paracletus pt. 2 or Years Past Matter revisited. If anything, I find Dodecahedron to have a lower barrier of entry than either DsO or Krallice. This is that rare album that's challenging, but that you can get close to almost immediately.
The album's main tracks give you a tour of the Dungeons & Dragons dice, or more mathematically speaking, the Platonic solids. After the tight, building "Prelude," "Tetrahedron" splatters spidery, dissonant lines all over. But before this track is done, it gives you a glimpse of what sets Dodecahedron apart. The song ends with a stomping, chugging riff that should satisfy anybody's recommended daily allowance of red-meat-and-potatoes heaviness. "Hexahedron" uses a similar bag of tricks, also to great effect. "Dodecahedron" (the song) throws another curve with a chiming, almost ethereal intro, one that persists through the song even when they blast back into fury.
I mentioned lyrics before. I was fortunate enough to get my pre-order of the CD a week early, so I had lyrics on hand. There are some striking turns of phrase here, particularly when it comes to colorful imagery. Sure, there's blackness and "ashen" faces screaming, but "Hexahedron" also gives us an "amethyst mist dissolving all figures," and "Dodecahedron" describes "liquid gold running through my veins." Of course, this is still metal, so "Icosahedron" gets evil-gear metaphoric with this summing up of existence: "During out stay between the grinding wheels of the great design our souls crushed between the teeth." The lyrics remind me a bit of Bosse de Nage in a very general stylistic sense, sometimes reading more like short stories than verse.
The fact that the running time of Kwintessens is 42 minutes compared to Dodecahedron's 53 minutes says a lot. This is a tighter album with the kind of high-concept songwriting the band showed in the "View from Hverfell" tracks I mentioned earlier. There's growth in every aspect here, and it's an energizing listen even as it tests you. I know, I know, we've already heard some b.s. about other black metal albums being "Album of the Year," and yes, it's still too damn early for that crap, but Kwintessens is the strongest contender so far in my book.