Kontinuum - Earth Blood Magic Review
by Matt Hensch
I'm no music whiz, but I'd assume the term 'post-black metal' comes from slamming black metal into post-rock. I'm no black metal shaman either, and I can testify I've seldom dipped into anything post-related, other than the mail, perhaps. So, I found this Kontinuum band somewhat interesting, because the idea of a progressive post-black metal band—a somewhat eyebrow-raising term but probably the best to describe the group—seemed like it'd be an intriguing foundation and they also apparently shared some musical traits with Enslaved and fellow countrymen Sólstafir, so why not? Given all the post-related labels and apparent similarities to their cohorts, one could reasonably say "Earth Blood Magic" at the very least makes for an interesting experience. While some of Kontinuum's antics suffer from a type of inconsistency that cuts the album in near-perfect portions and completely forgettable sections, the true essence of "Earth Blood Magic" often shines brightly in its dim, bleak slab of introspective black metal seared over Kontinuum's own unique colors.
And by unique colors, I mean pretty much anything your mind can conjure; they're all over the place at times, but not in a bad way. "Earth Blood Magic" somewhat reminds me of an Icelandic spin on Celtic Frost's "Monotheist"—some of the parallels are striking—stitched to Enslaved, Sólstafir, and some post-rock band with a little dash of Neurosis. I'm not implying Kontinuum sounds like "Monotheist," but both are spiritual brothers in more ways than one. It's an incredibly harrowing and torturous listen at times yet more sedated and relaxed at others. The first two songs, for instance, are relatively tame post-black metal numbers jogging around atonal, droning riffs that summon flares of alt-rock and find solace in the progressive/post niche. Both are prime examples of the inconsistency I mentioned earlier, however: both ("Endgame" and the nine minutes of plodding on "Steinrunninn Skógur") do little for me overall. Too aimlessly repetitious and lacking ambition.
However, the rebounding numbers that follow the dump-tastic duo are usually of premium quality. "Moonshine" continues the same formula for the most part, only this time around the atmosphere is totally nightmarish and gloomy; it's way more riveting than most of the record. "Stranger Air" is more of an atmospheric creeper, and "Lightbearer" brings the metal edge of Kontinuum's blueprint to the forefront, using more riffs and seldom-used harsh vocals than most of the offerings. There aren't many tunes that truly deviate from the group's pattern disregarding a handful of outliers near the album's conclusion, which dabble in multitudes of rare and absorbing identities that end up taking the record's crown, ironically. "Í Gljúfradal" finishes "Earth Blood Magic" in a mournful piano-violin sonnet akin to Celtic Frost's "Winter" on "Monotheist," which, like its spiritual sibling, ends an extremely agonizing and nerve-racking release with an angelic yet desolate conclusion.
"Earth Blood Magic" in the end flies like a dark phoenix barely illuminating the night in its translucent and perplexing glory. One downside of Kontinuum's story speaking on an absolute spectrum happens to be their atypical genetics: most of their material is somewhat hard to accept, and it takes a lot of patience to truly digest what "Earth Blood Magic" preaches. However, if you believe there's a spot in your musical heart for a black metal band that openly accepts outside influences, you'll find this enjoyable. I'd really be raving about "Earth Blood Magic" had the substantial variance been on a shorter leash, but the album overall strikes more than it flops. Something to look into if you consider yourself a fan of Enslaved, Sólstafir, and other progressive black metal factions.
Kontinuum - Earth Blood Magic
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