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Little hints of genius - 70%

autothrall, October 23rd, 2009

Every time I think I'm finally, completely fed up with the trendy post-rock/doom/sludge scene and don't want to hear another goddamn record, some band has to come along and ruin it for me, releasing an album that I get lost in and enjoy.

Vaalbara is no perfect record, mind you, but once I relaxed and let it carry me I found myself enthralled. In particular I noticed I could find little hints of genius in many of the songs. The beautiful little melodic metal guitar flourishes in "Earthrise", and that melodic groove riff which comes in about 2/3rds of the way through the track. The ambient instrumental percussion and psychedelia of "Rain Gives Rise". The spacious acoustics alternating with the droning sludge "In Rust". The hard grooves of "The Monolith". It's all well and good, and Supercontinent pulls it off as good if not better than many other bands in this scene.

Do you like the recent albums by Isis? Mouth of the Architect? Rosetta? The Ocean? Callisto? Cult of Luna? Pelican? Well then it's a pretty safe bet you'll find a lot here to admire. It's a solid debut effort from a young American band with a good grasp of their style and the imagination to captivate you through it, rather than just bore the piss out of you.


Post/sludge/whatever with the crap parts removed! - 89%

caspian, November 27th, 2008

One of the problems with the whole post-metal/post rock with louder moments thing is that every band of late seems to have went the whole “appeal to the hipster audience” way. There’s Isis going straight up Mogwai worship, Pelican doing some unbearably shitty indie rock with distortion, Cult of Luna.. Well I guess those guys will never change. The Slayer to the aforementioned Metallica and Megadeth, maybe? Of course, like Slayer they also went way downhill after their fourth album.

To continue the fairly inaccurate thrash/hipster metal comparisons, Supercontinent would be a late 90’s/fairly recent band that heard the first few records of their forefathers, decided they were cool and that they’d do an exact copy of said records, with none of the rock boners that would drag their ancestors down. In other words: ladies and gentlemen, we have our first retro post-metal band!

It’s probably been done before, but whatever. It’s an awesome idea really; giving us Isis/CoL-ish crescendos and riffs without making us eat our post-rock vegetables first. That’s right: hardly any of those long clean intros or attempts at being all dynamic, just one huge riff after another. Supercontinent understand that the market wants less of the clean and more of the molten amps style of post/whatever this is metal. Even the song titles suggest awesome slow riffing times: “Epoch”, “Lake of Iron”, “The Monolith”, “Earthrise”, “Impact Winter“.

It’s hard to say much more then that; it’s a simple enough formula with little in the way of distractions. I guess it’s the kind of thing that could conceivably go fairly wrong- not dynamic enough, not enough variation with the riffs. Luckily Supercontinent understand that while massive riffing is indeed the most important thing, it’s not the only thing. Massive doom jams in tunes like “Earthrise” (hard to beat for excellent Cult of Luna ripping) and “In Rust” are ably balanced by some short but nonetheless startingly beautiful interludes; the delay soaked, blissed out surf tune that’s “Rain gives Rise” complete with slide guitar and general good beach times. As a keen fan of that big blue wet and salty thing I must say I’m pretty damn happy that someone’s finally done something like this! There’s the occasional bit of clean guitar and a few short, tight guitar solos in the otherwise sprawling doom/sludge/slowed down hardcore songs, which adds to the dynamic nicely.

But it’s the riffs that make this album good, perhaps great, even. “Earthrise” needs another mention; it’s like a seven-and-a-half minute long climax to an epic Cult of Luna tune, heaps of massive riffs and tasteful delayed guitar soaring over the thick rhythm guitars. It‘s all very despairing in that CoL-ish “screaming into the void“ sort of way. I guess overall CoL is probably the best comparison, though it‘s got much better riffs then our Moon-loving friends. “The Monolith” doesn’t quite match up to its’ name but it’s got a massive intro; all huge chords underneath a simple but brilliant guitar lead, before things get all early Pelican on us, all mid paced chunky major key riffing with the drummer beating the crap out of his kit. “Impact Winter” is probably the closest to a proper, quiet-loud style tune, things starting off all Nuclear Winter-y and Neurosis-esque; a bunch of static and piano floating through the radioactive air, before Supercontinent get bored and just start playing massive riffs again.

It’s just such an entertaining record. For one thing, it’s consistently heavy, so the hardcore screams fit the music a lot better then they do with most other bands of this genre. There’s always something going on, not keeping you looking forward to “the loud part” that’s in three or so minutes or whatever, or building up tension, but there’s always something going on that you can enjoy. Despite it being a rather heavy, riff filled beast it’s also really accessible, keeping you interested and banging your head. Well worth getting.