With a breadth of their influences and with such a wide sonic palette from which to draw, Kontinuum are set up to have a healthy future in the music world
Kontinuum, a band forced in Iceland during 2010, claim to make "hypnotic and spiritual musical noise," and after multiple plays of sophomore album Kyrr, I can’t disagree. After having not heard anything by the band previously, my first impression of this record was the cover; a bleak, dark, truly suffocating image. From this, I was expecting some kind of blasphemous Icelandic assault on my senses. What I actually got from the first 50 or so minutes I spent with this record is something far more profound and interesting.
After a brief moment of noise, Kyrr begins with a triumphant delay-drenched rock lead which brings to mind the superb melodic sense of Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails. Kontinuum, though, opt not for blast beats and wretched vocals. Instead they build on a foundation of melodic rock, goth, industrial and post-rock styles to create a powerful crossover sound. Opener Breathe earns comparisons with not only Fallujah, but Gary Numan, The Cure, Katatonia, and Type O Negative amongst others. It’s a truly alternative sound which will please fans of ‘heart’ rather than ‘head’ music. That is to say that there’s no technical spectacle on Kyrr, no explosive moments of intense musicianship or complex arrangements. Everything rests on the sonic palette and note placement on this record, and in that sense it succeeds in a huge way.
Kyrr is built on massive melodies, layers of delay and catchy (in a good way) vocal lines which are sung in both Icelandic and English. The dual language approach is often avoided by artists in favour of wider appeal but works wonders here, giving the songs a greater degree of mystery and intrigue. It’s refreshing to hear a language sung other than English, and it really helps transport me to the Icelandic wastes suggested by Kontinuum’s instrumentals. The band have received extensive local radio play in their home country too, so I suppose it works for them in that capacity too. Whatever their approach, the band have crafted an extremely memorable and affecting vision which is far more than the sum of its eight songs, hitting on great melody after great melody.
"The rock elements inherent on this album are merely a mask through which the band can project their real strength: a natural appreciation for melody."
The album is is, at its most stripped back, a superb pop album. Though, it is a pop album a half step away from post-rock and progressive/atmospheric/post metal. Like Deafheaven (who are often labelled – wrongly – a black metal band), Kontinuum will gain considerable press in the rock and metal scenes without this really being the impetus of their music. The rock elements inherent on this album are merely a mask through which the band can project their real strength: a natural appreciation for melody. This is usually the part of the review where I’ll discuss a few tracks, but just put on Í Huldusal and you’ll see what I mean; it’s a real earworm.
Kontinuum could make an excellent post-metal band, they could make an excellent pop band, too. Here are a group who I sense could become either in the future. Such are the breadth of their influences and with such a wide sonic palette from which to draw, Kontinuum are set up to have a healthy future in the music world going forward. Kyrr is an incredible, moving record which will be criminally missed by many this year. Don’t be one of those people. Bravo Candlelight, between this and Opium Lord, you’ve really got this year going.
Words: Ben Armstrong
Kontinuum is: Birgir Thorgeirsson Engilbert Hauksson Ingi Þór Pálsson Kristján Einar Guðmundsson Thorlakur Thor Gudmundsson.