Yes, I realize full well that this album was released in Europe in 2012; otherwise, I would have had no chance to have listened to it. It first came to my attention via No Clean Singing during its European release, and I took the opportunity to give the album a listen recently as it finally arrived. Anything that bills itself as post-black atmospheric progressive metal is most likely going to catch my attention at least for a song or two.
Billing themselves on their bandcamp page as ambient metal/occult rock, this Iceland band offers nine songs on their first release. Songs are sung in English and in Icelandic without ever truly losing any quality in the lyrics or in the voice. As I have found I do not like to write a song by song approach to a review of a band’s music (unless it’s absolutely necessary), I will focus on the overall approach to the album.
First off, the album is well produced, each instrument is able to be heard cleanly and the fuzzy qualities in the instrumentation sections are used to build the album’s ambience. Further, the band do not utilize overly long sections in which one or two notes are used to “build” the ambience (see Storm Corrosion from 2012 or any of Sigur Ros’ albums). When they build, the sections reach their logical and skillfully performed conclusions, and when they drop you down, you feel the loneliness and coldness for which they strove.
They are talented instrumentalists in the vein of Solstafir and Sigur Ros and never actually quite hit the metal genre label. Yes, they have sections of tremolo picking and piercing shrieks, but they are moments in the overall composition and feel of the piece. I really liked the tribal/folkesque introduction to “Steinrunnin Skogur” in which deep Sisters of Mercy style vocals sung in Icelandic drive over a gentle guitar section. Generally, they feel to me to be an ambient progressive rock band that is willing to use metal song structure and extreme sounds as part of a composition. They feel at their best and most focused when cleaning singing and building ambience.
Ultimately, Kontinuum’s release is a successful first effort. It is an album that is equally beautiful and grotesque, and is stunningly peaceful. I look forward to following this band as they continue to develop their sound, and build further off into their own. Some of the highlights off the album are “Moonshine,” “Lys Milda Ljos,” and “Red.” The album’s lowest point is the song “Strange Air” which just does not seem to fit with the rest of the album’s compositions.