Descending into the chasm: a spotlight on Dodecahedron + Kwintessens album review
When a musician whom you look up to praises a band with absolute conviction, your initial reaction would be to check that band and determine if the acclamation is indeed valid. This is how my journey began with Netherland’s Dodecahedron and that discovery brought all my dreaded nightmares to life.
The irony is, hearing the name Dodecahedron for the first time may not conjure anything abhorrent or ominous. Being the geometrical figure of Plato’s fifth element, it may sound like an offshoot of a progressive metal band. But, as they say, never judge a band by its name, and I’m glad I didn’t because when I finally plugged my ears to the band’s 2012 self-titled release and 2017’s Kwintessens, I knew that I wasn’t wrong in gratifying my interest; the music was a mind-blowing tour de force and it took me to an otherworldly, desolate dimension that seemed to have no way out.
The band initially started in 2006 as a black metal project of guitarist Michel Nienhuis, a former member of the now-defunct, progressive powerhouse Exivious. When he collaborated with guitarist Joris Bonis, who’s also an electronic music composer and sound engineer, things fell into place. Six(66) years later, with a full band composed of vocalist Michiel Eikenaar, bassist Ype Terwisscha van Scheltinga, and drummer Jasper Barendregt, the full-length Dodecahedron was released and it fucking tormented every living soul of the underground who surrendered to its oppressive blow.
Black metal, as it is, requires time to seep into the crevices of the human mind to be fully appreciated. Synthesize it with more distorted and menacing sounds and you might be forced to drill your fucking brains out. But it is this form of violence that Dodecahedron seems to pursue, away from the linear black metal compositions that have already been perfected.
The band’s hard work brought their eponymous full length, which was released by Season of Mist, to great heights, scoring positive reviews in the underground. It should have been difficult to surpass, but then came Kwintessens.
Also released by Season of Mist, Kwintessens is more than just a testament to the musicianship of Bonis and Nienhuis who have been taking the lead in terms of production and arrangements since the beginning. It’s also a big leap from Dodecahedron as song structures are more cohesive and atmospheric. The good news is, the chaos remains and it has soared on an epic scale, making the band worthy purveyors of avant-garde/extreme black metal.
The album opens to the punishing “Prelude”, an instrumental madness infused with layers of sonic dissonance that instantly bludgeons your cranium. The intensity rises with “Tetrahedron – The Culling of the Unwanted from the Earth”, evoking the band’s influences (Deathspell Omega, Mayhem) with a more tumultuous and foreboding atmosphere. It’s no rest for the weak as “Hexahedron – Tilling the Human Soil” becomes more abrasive than the previous track. Listening to it literally made me feel like I contracted dengue all over again as it violently tortured every part of my senses, a punishment akin to a lethal internal hemorrhage.
The band then placates the aggression with the post-black metal instrumental called “Interlude”, but not for long. Before you know it, you are back on the diabolical journey that becomes more and more distressing. From “Octahedron – Harbinger” to “Icosahedron – The Death of Your Body,” you will be mercilessly tortured only to be reborn again into the bleak dimension where suffering seems to be innate and endless.
By the time you’re done listening to this album, you might find yourself in a state of exhaustion, too fucking dumbfounded to even think if there’s any chance hope might still find its way into the dark and dreary world Kwintessens has conceived.
This album is definitely not for those who abhor a cacophony of tortured sounds, neither it is for the impatient and undiscerning listener. But if you want to spare around 42 minutes of your life being mind-fucked in epic proportions, then this masterpiece will give you a VIP seat.
What’s next for Dodecahedron? It took a good five years to release their second effort, and if it will take the band another five years to release something new, then so be it. After all, the latest album was absolutely worth the wait.
As of this writing, the band has recruited a new vocalist by the name of William Van De Voort of doom outfit, Ggu:ll. It’s an exciting new chapter for this 5-piece and I can’t wait to for them to fuck the shit out of their listeners all over again.