Friday, March 30, 2012

Dodecahedron - Dodecahedron [2012]

In recent years, there has been a sudden emergence of orthodox black metal and some fantastic acts that brand that genre on their shoulders. Among these, and definitely the most well-known of the bunch, is Deathspell Omega. Their latest full-length, “Paracletus,” is without a doubt one of the most groundbreaking albums that orthodox black metal, let alone black metal itself, has yet to unearth. Beyond this band, however, Dodecahedron is another act that have been brave enough to attempt a hit at this incredibly formidable style of black metal, and they’ve pulled it off pretty damn well, following along the same path as DSO. Hailing from the Netherlands, a country that offers death metal in the likes of Pestilence and Asphyx, Dodecahedron have been around since 2006, and through Season of Mist, have released their debut self-titled. A 50-minute journey of mind-churning black metal proportions, “Dodecahedron” is an album that will further develop the possibilities in BM and expand monumentally, though not so much as DSO, in what black metal had turned into once the second wave had been inaugurated and once that genre had become trite, overused, and, bluntly put, awful.

Just as thousands of acts had been spawned in the 90’s and on, imitating the forerunners in the second wave, and proving to be no more than lame facsimiles of the originals, (in most cases), so too have Dodecahedron emerged from the ashes that “Paracletus” has swept across the earth. That’s not to say that they’re simply a copy or a rehash of DSO, as the orthodox/avant-garde genre is still quite fresh and new, but they don’t match up to its influence, one that has set the tide at the highest level of black metal intellectuality and proved that it is, in fact, possible to branch off from a genre’s common factor and still thrive in musical genius; perhaps even surpassing many, if not most, of the genre’s originals. The French are at the top of the game at the current time for avant-garde black metal, and they’re setting the standard of excellence toward which subordinating bands should aim. Dodecahedron are clearly influenced by “Paracletus” and unfortunately add little to what it had to offer, but this record is easily still incredibly original in comparison to the oceans of simple-headed BM bands, and its members are all undeniably talented and musically proficient.

“Allfather,” the opening track on the album that releases spurts of darkened aural energy, is not merely a song; it’s a statement. A statement screaming of pain and agony, of malaise and torture, of the dark arts, blackened beliefs and slithering, eerie creatures of the underground hellish mires. It’s a statement inside which there lies a 6-minute endeavor of raspy, poignant BM vocals and dissonant guitars, of a night painted black that tears in the sky and unleashes upon the world hundreds of thousands of gruesome creatures that lurk into the listener’s ear and bomb it with powerful blast beats and cacophonous, atonal riffs. At around the middle of the song there comes around a break where the bass is left to shine along with the jazzy, dynamic drums; lasting hardly at all and bursting into incredibly powerful blasts of double bass soon after; and combinations of tremolos on one guitar and eerie sounds on the other. The rest of the songs continue along similarly, all bearing their individual merits and distinctions from the rest; be it a change in speed or an increase in an evil and morbid atmosphere, the latter of which can be heard in the interlude “Descending Jacob's Ladder,” where sways of vocals and harrowing sounds compose a wholly tormenting experience. Fucking hell, that is one scarring hell of a track. Listen at your own risk. (In addition to its horrific entertainment and terror that it ignites in you, it provides a nice twist on the album as a whole and adds variation).

A single underlying thread nips a clean hole through each one of the songs; all of which are almost identical in nature but surprisingly different, refreshing and varied when taken apart and inspected one by one. The production on the record is crisp, so each instrument is clearly audible and has its own moments of glory. The vocals are guttural, raspy and vibrant utterances that spit acid with them and enrich the quality of the album. Aside from the dissonant riffs that Dodecahedron put into play, there are other interesting nuances heard throughout, namely a few fast tremolos, and riffs here and there that carry a certain sadness to them (intro to “View from Hverfell II: Inside Omnipotent Chaos”). (Most of the variation is heard on the latter tracks, all of which belong to a “View from Hverfell” theme). However, they never stray far from that pervasive orthodox style of black metal. “Dodecahedron” is a fantastic achievement by a band that has a bright--or more accurately, dark--future ahead of them and I sit on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear what more this band has in store for the metal audience.



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