Dødkvlt – III: Domĭni Ascensiōnem
Release: LP, 2012 (Misanthropic Art Productions)
Genre: Experimental/Progressive Black Metal
Sonic Brethren: Deathspell Omega, Emperor, Absu
Before reading, scroll down to the Bandcamp widget and hit play. Did you do it? Good. Because the only way to make sense of this chaotic release is to experience for yourself… says the guy who’s about to spew off a few paragraphs about it. Sure, the Requiem for a Dream clone you’re now hearing is a bit cliché, but there’s a reason you hear it so often in pop culture – it pumps you the fuck up. And I can’t think of a better intro to this psychotic mastery of an album.
I had never before heard of Finnish one-man band Dødkvlt until discovering this album, but it appears I really should have. III: Domĭni Ascensiōnem is lone mastermind Lord Theynian’s third full-length album (duh) under the moniker in just three years, released yesterday on his newly-minted Bandcamp page. The first two minutes of intro track “Dark Void Architect” show exactly what you should expect during the next hour. Sweeping keyboards leading into mind-fucking blastbeats which in turn give way to blackened proggy sections that sound like they would feel at home on the newest Ihsahn release.
Dødkvlt is obsessed with “the void” — the term appears three times in the track titles alone, and satan knows how many times in the lyrics — which provides the perfect imagery for the sonic assault. It feels as though you’re being sucked into a swirling abyss while simultaneously trying to grapple with your new-found insanity. But there are familiar elements that present themselves during the descent to help ease the confusion. The aforementioned progressive bridges frequently appear throughout the album, as does the epic synth piece you familiarized yourself with earlier. Apart from these breaths of air the album is completely unrelentless until the final track, and even then you can hardly gasp before the final descent.
Lord Theynian borrows his riffing style heavily from the MeloDeath school. While reliance on palm-muting has generally been looked down upon in black metal, he does it in a refined and fitting fashion. It may be a deal-breaker for some but I think it adds to the overall oddness of the album. With this, you start to realize after a couple listens that the songs are actually a lot more melodic than they first appear. Borrowing songwriting and production techniques from more popular forms of music leaves you scratching your head while feeling an odd sense of familiarity. It’s a stark contradiction in itself, and that is what the album is all about. His raw, raspy voice is evil and mad until you realize that you can actually comprehend the lyrics.
The excessively crunchy bass and drum machine can become a tedium at times; listen to beginning of “As I Descended Into the Bottomless Void” and you’ll understand what I mean. Trying to wrap your head around the ungodly ferociousness of an intro like that is an exercise in futility. But such production gripes are common with solo projects. Besides, who wants to deal with a smartass drummer when you can just have a programmable robot pal who never argues back?
Slight annoyances aside, this album is special because it’s so unique. A blender-full of influences combine to form something batshit insane yet still interesting and melodic. I’ve never heard the term Technical Black Metal before and as sickening as it is to see those words together, it makes sense for Domĭni Ascensiōnem. Because like I said, it’s all about contradictions.
Final Thoughts: A chaotic mindfuck that reveals itself to have much more than meets the ear. Wonderfully original and insane.