I’ve been lucky enough to experience Icelandic band Kontinuum’s two previous albums “Earth Blood Magic” (2012) and “Kyrr” (2015). Both are born of creative imagination, and whilst alternative, they are both accessible and colourful works.
The music of Kontinuum is darkwave at its heart and in some ways reminiscent of Katatonia. It also has something pleasantly commercial about it. Yet it could not be accused of commercialism. “Shivers” lives up to its title, is both deep and mellow, and prog, but in a powerful way. Green Carnation, Amorphis, Anathema, Sentenced … there are elements of so many great bands here but this is not derivative. It flows, it’s funky and it’s mysterious. Listening to “Lifelust” I just wanted to read the lyrics, which are as vivid as the music is rich. “There’s an empty glass in the living room … there’s a broken glass on the floor” conjure up a picture of desolation. The music pounds on magically. The short “Warm Blood”, which follows, is more rock and roll in its nature. The guitar work is clever, ringing out and full of pungency.
“Neuron” has the penetrating darkness and depth of Tiamat, who we can now add to our list of noble comparisons. I recalled a previous description in which this band was acclaimed for its “hypnotic and spiritual musical noise”. There’s definitely something other-worldly in this band’s music, even if the floor is littered with broken and empty glasses. Menacing sound waves sweep through “Neuron”. Melancholy is never self-pitying. On the title track and again on “Low Road”, Kontinuum present sadness in a powerful and haunting way, occasionally taking us into a cosmically-charged dreamland. I was pleased that “Erotica” took us back into livelier territory as I sensed a danger of drowning in the melancholy, atmospheric as the previous songs were. “Erotica” is bouncy and in its style reminiscent of 1990s indie music. The band’s dark reflections return with “Stargaze”, but this time it’s more post-metalish and scary as the song develops into deep and heavy colour. Lush mellow scenes pervade the beginning of “Two Moons”. We float above the galaxy. The music is calming as we are swept along. The words suggest something both beautiful and sinister. That sums up the whole experience, really.
This album has many elements and styles. Kontinuum manage to combine gentle, heavy and dark atmospheres and wrap us up in the rich and wondrous world of “No Need to Reason”.
(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)