As a Star Trek: The Next Generation nerd, it is my duty to spend an inordinate amount of time relating its characters, narrative and minutia into my everyday life. Pursuits such as this are often met with derision, which is water off a duck’s back for nerdly nerdletons, but I’ll have you know that I successfully ward off this compulsion often enough to maintain several healthy friendships, thank you very much.
The Borg are a “fictional” race of alien cyborgs who sweep the universe and assimilate all who cross their path into a common Collective that’s governed by an interminable pursuit of perfection. This key Borg objective – the relentless quest for superiority/transcendence – is a narrative that’s been told and retold under limitless designs, with the Netherland’s Dodecahedron and full-length number two, Kwintessens, being the latest added to the list. Strengthening the Trekkie stake, the band spins the venerable tale while wielding a style of metal that comes across as more Borgy than a recently assimilated Bjorn Borg wearing a Striborg fannypack filled to capacity with extra nanoprobes.
(Over)-Intellectualizing this sort of stuff is something that’s probably best saved for solitary contemplation or intimate gatherings amidst bougie Syrahs, but for the sake of further stressing the overall allure of the record, know that the basic gist behind the yarn here deals with relating the five platonic solids to a protagonist’s relentless pursuit of perfection. Fittingly, the album divides the story into three distinct chapters that do a magnificent job of building the requisite amount of brain-boiling tension, heavy-duty joy and ultimate annihilation likely associated with the emotions one might encounter upon stumbling on a means to unfold “arcane secrets” that ultimately lead to a flattening obliteration. “Prelude” and the two wallopers that follow set up the overwhelming undertaking, “Interlude” and its two successors usher in a period of sheer enlightenment, and “Finale,” along with the record’s psychotic closer, eulogize the doomed collapse, all executed under the highly savage, sometimes pretty/sometimes stupidly heavy method of modern extreme dissonance that invariably lands the band in most any conversation that involves similarly jagged attackers such as Gorguts, Ulcerate, DSO, et al.
What Dodecahedron understand to a greater extent than most of their peers, however, is the fact that the cruelest cruelty is a cruelty that shows glimpses of mercy. Ask any person who’s lived a significant amount of years in a four-season climate to give an example of the meanest winter and they’ll quickly point toward the months where a brutal stretch is broken by a handful of sunny days that yank spring’s early crocuses up from the mulch, only to return to the frozen hammer immediately afterward. Kwintessens executes a similar intention. Songs like “Tetrahedron” and “Hexahedron” assault the ears like piranha falling on a capsized cache of Kobe beef. Jagged, violent dissonance punctuated with moments of absurd heaviness such as this would’ve scored huge points with a somber burnout with a sneaky affinity for brutality such as:
But those beautiful moments that offset the disharmony – the bits where the protagonist is flush with sudden enlightenment – those occasions are painted with a blissful post black metal approach that somehow manages to appeal even to those who normally recoil from the style. “Interlude” and particularly the expansive “Dodecahedron” are drifty and shimmery and captivating, and one could easily picture a euphoric, deranged grin attached to the crazed vocals that convey the transcendent ecstasy. But even these more dazzling moments remain firmly tacked to the earth by virtue of the excessive and weighty hustling of all the fantastic drum and bass work.
We’re all perfectly familiar with the timeworn story’s harsh end, though. The sun melts wax wings; absolute power corrupts absolutely; molten hell burns eternally; Cenobites forever tear flesh from bone; and Kaecilius eventually gets incinerated and snatched up into the swirling abyss of the Dark Dimension. Similarly, the poor bastard at the heart of Kwintessens bargains for a particularly harsh fall via the ten minute disintegration that is “Finale” and “Icosahedron – The Death of Your Body.” A poisoned and exceedingly helpless climax that could make the darkness of BAN‘s The Work Which Transforms God seem like a stroll in the park puts a final grip on the ol’ gray matter by the tale’s end. And then… Abrupt silence. Alone with the harsh insight that one of humankind’s greatest flaws is our unrelenting effort to defy our inadequacies at any price.
But perfection’s temptation will always endure, and resistance will always be just as futile as it is fatal.