H. P. Lovecraft always reminded readers that there are some things simply too odd for this earth. Our minds, he warned, were too fragile to understand that monsters were lurking on the threshold of our world, mostly indifferent to our presence, but close enough to us so that they could destroy our deeply ingrained sense of self, the world, and creation. The world, in other words, lulls us into a sense of normalcy while unseen creatures quietly prepare our destruction. Sometimes, Lovecraft explains all this through small, but deeply uncanny, details. In "The Call of Cthulhu," for example, he notes that the geometry of a city like R'lyeh is non-Euclidean, beyond anything we can rightly comprehend. In Lovecraft's mind, we rarely understand the way things really are and are easily caught off guard by the unusual, the uncanny, and the unexpected.
I mention Lovecraft so much here because Dodecahedron, the self-titled debut from a group of Dutch post-black metal musicians, sees itself as invoking something akin to Lovecraftian space. What I think this means is that they are hoping to capture a glimpse of the uncanny horror that causes Lovecraft's characters to lose their minds. It could also mean that they hope to provide audiences with reminders that all is not what it seems. In any case, most attempts to invoke Lovecraft are both surprising and strange. After all, what would music sound like in the world of strange monsters? Dodecahedron takes us into its own version of that music. The result is a strange mélange of constant meter changes, dissonant notes, and unconventional sounds. I've never heard anything quite like it. At times, it sounded like a Death metal band rehearsing in the same space as a post-metal band and a mathcore band. The result is an unusual, unsettling, blend of musical styles and moods. This isn't a recording that one will cherish, nor listen to time after time. Instead, it's more of an experiment with textures and styles that may shake out some creative ideas for future musicians. Dodecahedron has talent, but I'm not sure that the music works together for its own good. For listeners who are curious, I'd encourage them to listen to the three-part "View from Hverfell." The attempt to capture an epic, multi-part song structure suits their sound, if only somewhat. The other tracks are less distinguished.
I am a long-time fan of Lovecraft's fiction; I'm not sure, though, that I can judge exactly how well Dodecahedron captures his overall mood. Perhaps these are the sounds his monsters hear. All I know for sure is that Lovecraft himself worked hard to overcome horror clichés and believed that writers of scary stories should simply help people reconnect with a primitive sense of fear. Simply put, he didn't want readers to forget their innate weaknesses. His intention was to make readers uncomfortable. In this sense, Dodecahedron passes the test, but I don't think they fully understood the questions that were at stake. I was certainly put off by this recording, but I did not experience the necessary blend of terror and delight that should inevitably follow.
2. I, Chronocrator
4. Descending Jacob's Ladder
5. View from Hverfell I: Head above the Heavens
6. View from Hverfell II: Inside Omnipotent Chaos
7. View from Hverfell III: A Traveller of the Seed of the Earth