Dutch epic blackened death metallers return with their second album and are ready to tear us all asunder.  Donnie dons his armour and prepares for war…

For those previously unfamiliar with the Utrecht five-piece then prepare for a sonic assault on the senses of the highest order.  Formed in 2012 by former Houwitser guitarist Ramon Ploeg the band recorded the 4-track promo Blood Symphony in 2013 which garnered them several endorsement deals and no shortage of acclaim.

Fast forward to 2015 and the eagerly awaited release of their stunning debut album Shepherds of Souls.  It was an album of supreme power and authority that is still receiving rave reviews.  This did not go unnoticed at Nuclear Blast Records and they promptly joined forces with the band for Dodekathlon.

“Bloodguilt” starts the album of in a ferocious fashion that never really abates throughout the twelve tracks.  Both crushing and melodic in it’s obvious intent it is an exceptional way to kick off proceedings.  However, the ante is ramped up almost immediately as “Multiple Decapitation” may well be one of the best tracks of the year.  At times it is epic and at others downright brutal and suffocating just like the very best death metal can be.

The album as a whole is a fantastic piece of work so to single out individual tracks may do it a disservice however others worthy of particular mention are “From Feast To Beast” which is a mid-pace black metal stroll through the bleakest of woodlands.  Reminiscent of Behemoth at their finest and there can be no compliment higher than that.

The musicality on offer here is nothing short of top notch from the rhythmic hammer blows of drummer Daan Klemann led down a darkened path by bassist Gea Mulder to the dual guitar energy and precision and majestic soloing of Rutger van Noordenburg and Ploeg it is a stunning musical achievement.

Mark Huisman is the man responsible for vocalising the band’s ideas and concepts and he provides a perfect deep and powerful, yet varied tone that although pleasing to the extreme metal contingent would no doubt scare the bejeezus out of normal folk.  That’s the way it should be.

The stripped down atmospheric instrumental  track “Tyrannical Blood” is a chilling three minutes that leaves it’s mark.  Particularly when it leads into the punishing and combative “Seeds of Distrust”.

The band are not merely content to walk a path already well trodden at every opportunity they add dashes of originality and invention to their music that allows them to rise higher than your mere good death metal bands into something a little more special.

The gods maybe bleeding but there is a lot of blood still pumping through those veins to ensure a very long and successful life for the band.

Dodekathlon is out on 12th January through Nuclear Blast Records

Donnie’s Rating: 10/10 – Start the year off with a monstrous bang and purchase this album as it’s guaranteed to be on your Album of 2018 list.