The Round Up Tapes // Volume XI

Dodecahedron – Kwintessens

Dutch avant-horror group Dodecahedron are back after a seemingly eternal wait for their follow-up to the incredible Dodecahedron from 2012. Using their time wisely, the quintet have dredged another terrifying prospect from the depths and in Kwintessens they have a record that moves their avant-garde black metal ever further into the realms of chaos.

“Prelude” forces you directly into the abyss with frenetic beats and jarring guitars vying for space in the heat surrounding echoing voices and industrial machinations before “TETRAHEDRON – The Culling Of The Unwanted From The Earth” whirls into view on discordant rhythms and off-kilter attacks. M. Eikenaar’s vocals are guttural and filled with spite, his approach one of total hatred and in line with the despair that echoes throughout the music, which often turns on its own head and becomes increasingly more claustrophobic as time progresses.

“DODECAHEDRON – An ill-Defined Air Of Otherness” is an intriguing glance at another side of Dodecahedron, with an introduction that is almost gorgeous in its execution – all shimmering guitars and sadness that underpin Eikenaar’s sorrowful screams and pain and as the track moves forward it takes in subtle post-rock inflections and melancholy. Tribal drum work overtakes all other instrumentation with droning structures of sound echoing behind the dynamic pulses before whispering voices take control. Of course, any such silence is temporary and soon the song is in flames with a closing section so passionate in its response that a visceral reaction is all that can be had.

Kwintessens is a record that requires repeated listens due to its expansive palette and one that is rewarding on a number of levels – not least the most primal.

Purchase via bandcamp here.

Light of the Morning Star – Nocta

Light of the Morning Star’s Nocta is a dark, pitch black, goth-tinged record that will become an obsession should you enter its death-like realms. A one man project from London, Light of the Morning Star uses black metal aesthetics to create an atmosphere of rot and decay with Nocta, which vibrates with delicious moments of darkness and a keen sense of gloom on its journey through the tombstones. While gothic metal is its core, sole member O-A brings in elements of black metal and eerie soundscapes in order to create his aura of foreboding.

First track “Nocta” sets the mood with grandiose keys signalling the beginning movements while O-A’s voice is deep and abyssal in its singing approach. Nocta has an array of catchy moments with “Coffinwood” worming its way into your skull after only one listen and “Five Point Star” ensuring the closing moments seep under the skin and stay there long after the music has finished.

“Serpent Lanterns” bounds on a post-punk drum beat while “Grey Carriages” is dusted with malaise and sensual despair, the funeral progression moving slowly towards finality and the more upbeat tones of “Crescentlight” and its vibrant pulse. Nocta is a sublime record and while gothic metal is more a feeling than a steadfast genre label, Light of the Morning Star has gotten under its skin and created a record that speaks to the base elements wonderfully.

Purchase via bandcamp here.

Northumbria – Markland

Northumbria’s sound is one of desolate ambience and in Markland they have a record that is subtly dark in its tone and melancholy in its execution. Opener “Torngat” sets out the bands manifesto early on, with a track that builds its layers upon echoing strings and field recordings. Drones take their sweet time to come full circle and the simple structures pass in hazy sweeps, allowing the music to wash over you and encompass your being.

The Toronto based duo behind Northumbria are creative and technically accomplished and the lapping waves and winds that stand as backdrops to their sounds are a welcome notation in the second in a trilogy of concept albums about the Viking discovery of their homeland – the first being Helluland.

“Ostara’s Return” is evocative of Ulver’s latest work and the majestic approach allows Northumbria to experiment further with their core instrumentation with this track feeling almost organ/synth led despite being performed on guitar and bass primarily – it’s clever and altogether beautiful.

Purchase via bandcamp here.

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