Review Summary: Engaging and enjoyable, but there's no promise you haven't heard it before.
In our current day and age, we are constantly witnessing many budding musicians stepping out of the box and rolling into the scene with unique music. Though not always stellar, it’s encouraging to see the eager young minds of today working on their art, honing it and releasing it unto the public. Then there’s the even greater abundance of musicians who merely follow in the footsteps of others. Though not always terrible or recycled, it’s never as encouraging to see talented musicians conforming to a certain clique. This is where one-man atmospheric black metal project Nontinuum comes into the picture. Nontinuum walks that line, that thin line between individuality and conventionalism. While the specific type of post-rock and black metal infused music Nontinuum plays isn’t exactly fresh, it’s not exactly overdone either. And being part of the Australian metal scene also grants Nontinuum a little breathing room to leap ahead of the pack. With fellow Melbourne black metallers like Ne Obliviscaris going above and beyond in terms of what black metal can be, and progressive metal bands like Okera retreating from the unknown into the warm arms of comfort, I like to think that Nontinuum nestles neatly in the middle of its genre handicap.
With Nontinuum’s 2010 demo Dwelling In Oceans
, we heard a poorly produced depressive black metal album that felt rehashed, tepid and too repetitive for its own good. Now the one-man band’s back again this year with a brand new EP: The Stars You Gathered, The Stars I Destroyed
. Upping his game in every aspect, The Stars You Gathered, The Stars I Destroyed
provides us with greatly improved production, more organic song-writing and an overall layout of the future for Nontinuum.
Starting out with what is essentially a six-minute post-metal intro, opening song ‘Swallow’ focuses on sluggish, thumping drum beats and repeated, melodic riffs to build an atmosphere. It ultimately sounds like an amateur’s attempt at post-rock with predictable builds and it just lacks any real essence and is a poor start to the EP, lacking the atmosphere it’s so obviously trying to create and failing wherever it turns. Not a horrible song in any sense, but the sort of formless, sheepish mediocrity we come to expect, and it’s wholly unsatisfying, considering we could rather just listen to other bands who have already done the same thing, albeit much better. Thankfully, the EP doesn’t keep this follow-the-leader attitude and blasts us into beautiful bloody melancholy with ‘Surrogate,’ which we will now refer to as ‘The Song That Swallow Wanted To Be’. Wherever ‘Swallow’ went wrong, ‘The Song That Swallow Wanted To Be’ went right. It’s the engaging drumming, the memorable and hopelessly ethereal riffing that gets you going, gets you into the music, makes you feel what it’s about. The clean singing and the gut wrenching screams. The black and the white. The contrast in control.
Following pattern over the next couple of tracks, the EP seems to find its comfort zone and plays from here on out like a soft cloud of post-metal, shoegaze and black metal goodness. The album takes a minor turn for the worse on the fourth track ‘Waiting With You’. Just past the halfway point, the song segues into a quiet spoken-word section with the repetition of the line “I’ll die as a piss stain on your bed” which continues almost until the end of the track, eventually breaking into the same line being screamed, then sung in an uncanny Placebo-esque vocal style and finally into cringe-ridden oblivion.
While certainly nothing new, The Stars You Gathered, The Stars I Destroyed
sounds unique in its own little way and is more than just another colourless addition to a slew of bland bands that will be forgotten quickly in time. Nontinuum demonstrates extremely proficient song-writing capabilities and shows that with a little ingenuity, elbow grease and dedication, he can produce something truly spectacular.