Autarkh Credit: Steph Byrne

Dutch avant-garde metal band Dodecahedron released two spectacular albums, 2012’s self-titled debut and 2017’s Kwintessens, that promised a bright future for the band with their use of disturbing dissonance, bleak synthesizer textures, and gnashing industrial rhythms. But tragedy struck before they could live up to their potential: front man Michiel Eikenaar (also of black-metal group Nihill) was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in April 2019 at age 42. That same year, cofounding Dodecahedron vocalist and guitarist Michel Nienhuis moved forward with Autarkh, which sticks with some of Dodecahedron’s tricks and expands into new arenas. In a 2012 Dodecahedron interview with music blog American Aftermath, Nienhuis cited Dutch sound artist Jaap Vink as an influence, and on Autarkh’s debut, Form in Motion (Season of Mist), he embraces an even wider palette of electronic music, marrying playful touches of avant-garde electronica with ferocious black metal. A four-piece consisting of Nienhuis, synthesist and sound designer Joris Bonis (also formerly of Dodecahedron), guitarist and vocalist David Luiten, and synthesist and beat designer Tijnn Verbruggen, Autarkh stomp across a blasted soundscape, absorbing everything that’s not nailed down and a few things that are. Their harsh, challenging sound isn’t particularly invested in any genre, and often storms through several in one song. The majestic “Lost to Sight” touches on prog, black metal, noise, and thrash. The cyclical whirlwinds of “Cyclic Terror” and the unsettling intro and wiry, athletic riffing of “Impasse” gleefully merge industrial, punk, prog, and EDM influences, while the eerie abandoned-city vibe of “Metacognition” segues into the raw hardcore energy of “Clouded Aura.” Form in Motion is a rich album with tons of replay value; it’s fierce and fresh, and I look forward to spending more time with it. And I’ll call it now: given the time to flourish and sink into the ears of an audience, Autarkh will become highly influential on the next generation of extreme metal.   v