Kollwitz hails from Bodo, Norway, tucked just inside the Arctic Circle, so it’s no surprise that the group’s music is decidedly cold. The band plays a style of dark metal that sits somewhere between post-metal and hardcore-flavored sludge. You could use reference points like Neurosis, Devil Sold His Soul, or Isis, but there’s more to Kollwitz than what initially meets the ear. While most post-metal is all about the slow burn to the grand finale, most of these songs maintain a similarly sludge-like pace. Sure, there are ample moments of impact, especially the end of “Vanish”, but the majority of the album isn’t concerned with dynamics as much as it is feel. That’s where Kollwitz really makes its mark. To get a good idea of what makes the band so uniquely interesting, go watch the band’s music video to “Horizon”. Both the song and the video are quite off, in the best way possible.
In fact, all of Dissonance is dark and “off”, at least in the traditional sense. Kollwitz seems to enjoy just messing with traditional ideas. “Diminish” starts off with a great riff and a building structure, only to spend a minute-plus on a feedback-laced break, and you know what? It works, really well. The song finishes just as nasty as it started. Like the best sludge or post-metal, you’re bound to have an album chocked full of riffs and foreboding atmosphere, though there’s just something that’s difficult to pin down that pushes Kollwitz above many of its contemporaries. I think the biggest reason is the group’s disinterest in epic soundscapes or song structures. These songs are aggressive and memorable without forcing grand climaxes or melodies. “Never Unleashed” is Grade A sludge, a showcase of how to write riff-based metal that can be both challenging and interesting.
Overall, these Norwegians have crafted an excellent slab of dark and cold post-metal. By subverting the usual “epic” and cinematic tropes found in the genre, Kollwitz has written something that’s both heavy and memorable. They may be unknown to most, but on the strength of Dissonance, that should change soon enough. (Nicholas Senior)