Review Summary: Don't bother praying.
The power of music to evoke fear is profound, and difficult to achieve; given that it only attacks one sense, and doesn’t demand absolute attention (as books, the obvious objection, do), it should be universally accepted as something of a feat for a musical work to terrorize the languid listener. Of course, concerned parents worldwide have historically criticized various genres of music for being deleterious and shocking, citing the music as the reason their omni-sheltered spawn have been talking back and refusing to eat their vegetables, but to seasoned listeners of these unfairly censured (and censored) genres, banalities abound, and therefore there really isn’t much to incite fear. That’s why I’m not really generalizing genres as a whole, but rather I’m referring to specific sounds – I’m talking about music that is so chaotic, demonic, pernicious, that it becomes your mind’s soundtrack to your weekly Puciato-esque trips and your grim middle-of-the-night walks home through the dangerous part of the city; I’m talking about music that fucks you sideways
. Dutch black metal outfit Dodecahedron is a band that embodies this principle thoroughly, offering a discordant, surging incubus of a debut album that from start to finish is a relentless aural onslaught, born of vicious riffs and virulent atmospheres that envelop the listener in a chaotic maelstrom, refusing asylum for nearly 53 minutes. Even when the band’s assault relents, the haunting, brooding atmospheres left behind cause stirrings of horror as the potential for chaos loiters, perpetually threatening to attack full force. The group’s musical baptism takes place in the same proverbial church that birthed “inquisitors of Satan” Deathspell Omega, whose influence is prevalent throughout Dodecahedron’s eponymous opus, but whose sound and fury is perhaps eclipsed by their younger brethren.
For a debut, Dodecahedron
has an incredibly refined and calculated intensity that screams maturity; the band plays with a remarkable musical acumen reserved almost exclusively for veterans of the craft. The flaws are few, filler is absent, and the awkward, figuratively pre-pubescent learning process that debut albums almost always comprise is, in Dodecahedron’s case, chimerical. The album opens with a lone monolithic riff which soon evolves into absolute bedlam, with chaotic, almost overwhelming drums inundating the auditory abyss, aggressive guttural screams, and a grating, ethereal accession that, while at times only barely audible, permeates the entire track, aggrandizing its eerie constitution. The entropy continues through “Vanitas,” during which it briefly abates, ever so slightly as the guitars develop a murky, brooding black backdrop while tormented growls and Cynic-esque vocal modulations lay waste to the soundscape. But things change once the album reaches the fourth track, “Descending Jacob’s Ladder,” at which point the band begins to focus briefly on brewing thick, apocalyptic atmospheres, creating a potent, horrifying sonic expanse while demonic snarls and macabre whispers diffuse evil across the miasma. The album ends with the 22 minute “View From Hverfell” trilogy, a return to form of sorts, which features the band firing on all cylinders. Technical, blustery riffs and tumultuous, furious drumming pervades as malice is anthropomorphized through an abrasive and wicked vocal barrage. The evil is ubiquitous, even as the pandemonium reprieves during “Inside Omnipotent Chaos” – a perfect epithet for the track, as its oppressive doom-like chords and ominous, but almost perversely indolent instrumentation are reminiscent of the calm but foreboding eye of a hurricane. Of course, the storm arrives, and with it comes ruin, terror, decadence. And then it’s gone, almost as quickly as it came, leaving behind only atrophied survivors and devastation in its wake. Frenetic, yet truly focused
on all fronts, Dodecahedron
is as calculated as the most battle-scarred musical behemoth’s magnum opus, as visceral as a hungry contender amongst many burgeoning black metal acts, and the baleful embodiment of our worst fears. To put it bluntly, if you feel comfortable leaving your room, you listened wrong.