Review: Kontinuum – Kyrr

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Icelandic post-rock? Polar expeditions gone awry? Yes, please!

Kyrr (meaning “Still” in Icelandic) occupies a space between the despondent melodicism of slightly more metallic groups like Insomnium or Ghost Brigade and the goth-rock swagger of bands like the now defunct Beastmilk and Kontinuum’s fellow countrymen in Sólstafir.  It is certainly easy, then, to get lost in a sea of imitators, especially in the over-saturated climate of post-rock/post-anything.  However, Kontinuum manage to carve their own path through the ice-choked arctic waters of musical comparison, whilst still paying tribute to their genre elders (looking at you, Sigur Ros).

The band’s singular focus on song-craft really shines through out the entire record: songs are kept relatively succinct, all while dynamic structures allow for the songs to breathe.  Kontinuum avoids the common pitfall of excessive song lengths that is commonly associated with the genre, capitalizing instead on metallic riffing and bursts of energy (“The Red Stream”).  Whereas other post-rock outfits might find satisfaction in lapsing into drawn-out, lethargic wanderings, Kontinuum are at their best when driving forward with the urgency of a man attempting to outrun a blizzard.  In this way, the songs never outstay their welcome and the intense melodic statements therein tend to have more impact upon subsequent listens.

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Also of note is the vocal delivery, and with that, the lyrical themes that form the overarching concept for Kyrr.  The vocal melodies have obviously been constructed with care and a masterful ear.  I find myself walking around during the day humming the vocal lines, sometimes even attempting (poorly) to sing along with the Icelandic lyrics; the timbre of the vocals paired with the despondent melodies is, to me, inspiring.  Kontinuum’s vocalists employ a very straightforward approach: cleanly sung vocal lines with a hint of gothic crooning (hence the earlier Beastmilk allusion).  They refrain from histrionics and other attempts to impress, instead opting for a vocal timbre with deep, masculine authority, which, when paired with the richly intoned Icelandic lyrics, sounds as if some Norse god is singing, commanding the listener to persevere through their own personal, elemental struggle (“Hildargotu Heimsveldi”).

It is also important to mention the organizing theme behind album, which in this case is exploration and discovery: the elemental forces of our world and the men and women who have struggled to conquer them.  Inspired by a number of Arctic and Antarctic explorers of the past two centuries, Kyrr’s thematic content deals with icy winds and rough seas just as much as it deals with the self-doubt and introspection that comes along with being an explorer of the last remaining blank spots on the map.  “In Shallow Seas” really drives the point home both lyrically and musically.  The opening riffs evoke a perfect sense of danger and the anxiety that comes with knowing that you are thousands of miles away from your home and family in a dark region of the Earth where mankind has never set foot before.  One misstep, one fleeting moment of distraction, can and will doom you to an ice-locked tomb with no witness to your quick demise.  As such, the equally despondent and urgent nature of the music perfectly compliments the concept, proving that some of the most metal things in the universe can be located right here on Earth.

The production is fantastic without distracting from the musicality: every instrument and vocal line has a crisp, icy quality to it, but without harshness; the guitars crunch satisfyingly when appropriate; the soundstage evokes the space and vastness of an Arctic wasteland.  However, as a minor suggestion, I would have liked to have heard the synths and other ambient elements brought up in the mix a little bit more.  A complete transition into the more Krautrock-type sound would really cement the band’s greatness in my mind.

Part goth-rock, part grandchild of the great Icelandic tradition of post-rock/metal/everything, Kontinuum happen to be among my favorite new finds of the year, and Kyrr has definitely secured their position high on my list of bands to watch in the future.

4.5/5 TOILETS OV HELL

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(Photo Via), (Photo Via)

 

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    You lost me at post.

  • The first track was fucking killer.

    Excellent recommendation!

    GL

    • old_man_doom

      Every track kills it. Definitely check out the whole thing.

  • Just thinking out loud here, but Iceland has been killing it lately. Misþyrming’s newest
    album is best of the year material for 2015 for me. Sinmara released my #1 album from
    last year. Svartidauði should be working on new shit soon and Wormlust are
    officially working on their new album. Fuck yeah Iceland!

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Been jamming this since the day it came out. Killer album and a big step forward from their debut (which wasn’t bad either).

  • Will check this, it had me with the Insomnium/Ghost Brigade references. Good writing, very evocative. Hope seeing more of your recommendations, Doomy Old Guy.

    • old_man_doom

      Thanks Link. I have a couple ideas for funeral doom reviews and I have a book review of Nergal’s memoir waiting to be edited at the moment.

  • Mother Shabubu 8

    This tickles my fancy a bit. Seems like Iceland and Scandinavia produce a lot of post- bands. Must be the landscape and Northern lights that inspire it.

    I highly recommend Seigmen (one of three bands I plug hard) if you like this. A band that tows line the line between post- atmospherics and memorable songs. Their older material is almost like proto-Lateralus era Tool.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSXoC6F-f5E

  • YES!!! I loved their last album, didn’t know they had something new coming out!

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      Back in April. Did nobody write a TTT blurb for this?

  • hey congratulations Old Man Doom on your first article! (and longest bio)

    • old_man_doom

      Thank you, Mr. McNulty

  • Stockhausen

    I dig mightily. This is icing all my lands right now.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Dis gud. Liek, rill gud. Wishlisted.

  • Disgustache

    This was a really cool review. Music like this is not for me, but I was introduced long ago to a similar band called Red Sparowes. Hopefully you guys like them!

    http://www.wowhead.com/item=77067/reins-of-the-blazing-drake#contained-in-object

  • Whoa. These vocals are hitting me south of the equator. Music is a bit on the underwhelming side, though. I don’t know what to think.

    • Lacertilian

      So like the opposite of your response to Stocky’s review yesterday.

      • Yes. The precise opposite. Nice observation, you creepy stalker Lizard thing you!

        • Lacertilian

          C’mon man, even I can remember yesterday…most of the time.

          • Based Pingu

            Did all your troubles seem so far away? Do you feel like half the man you used to be?

          • Lacertilian

            Suddenly, they resurfaced in penguin form.

  • Waynecro

    Great review, Old Man Doom! I really like this CD. Also, Ghost Brigade kicks ass.