There is a thick yet blurry line between surrealism and sensuality – too far in either direction, and people become uncomfortable and apprehensive. To remedy this, ambiance can be the perfect mood stabilizer when you are slowly trying to ease into something new or unexpected. Depending on how well ambiance is used in this new situation, reason can literally walk out the door. With Kontinuum’s newest release, No Need to Reason, it is evident that there are times where jumping into things head first might actually work in your favour.
There are very few records I have encountered where the ambiance is the most seductive and alluring part of the music, and most of that is focused in one song (see The Ever Living’s “Apex Minor” and Nightwish’s “Slow, Love, Slow”) within the scope and context of the album. However, in No Need to Reason, the ambiance remains this way, even when harsh vocals, screams, and the sounds of prog rock are employed in stark contrast to the dreamy, sensual soundscape Kontinuum has created. The music is well-constructed and textually layered, creating different sounds and tonalities that echoes a siren’s call. It’s both approachable and inviting, as if asking the listener to stay for a while and bask in the melodious tones of said siren’s call.
This song gives us the “Shivers”…
This is evident in opener “Shivers”, which aims to ease the listener into the poppy, post-metal soundscape, especially if they are not familiar with Kontinuum’s previous body of work. It’s soothing at first, but it slowly unveils the different layers of tones that allow for the sensuality to be conveyed. That sensuality comes into full effect with the opening tones of “No Need to Reason”, allowing the listener to become completely comfortable with what is to come. Of course, given the main post-metal element and the backing growls that come into the music, the listener has to be comfortable with what they are hearing in order to become immersed into the atmosphere.
The vocals also add to the overall atmosphere and ambiance, shifting from slow yet paced melodic to stark, harsh screams that do not break the illusion of warmth Kontinuum has built. Although they are not the primary focus, vocalist Birgir Thorgeirsson makes sure that his “vocal gymnastics” do not detract from the ambiance. Instead, they add to it, adding more body and vibrancy to the overall appeal of the music, making it that much more inviting. This may be a testament to how well-constructed No Need… is; the band knows where their strengths lie and they use them to full effect, creating a record that deserves to be played numerous times.
What’s even better than a song about moons? One about “Two Moons”.
The only issue No Need to Reason has is the final track “Black Feathers”, as it feels like an afterthought, a song that was added because it could be added. After numerous spins, I felt as if “Two Moons” should have been the closing track. The way the song ends has a sense of finality, especially when it starts to slowly fade out as the song reaches completion. “Black Feathers” should have been placed earlier on the album, somewhere between “Neuron” and “No Need to Reason”, as it sounds closer to that cluster of tracks. Both “Neuron” and “Black Feathers” have a dark yet ethereal sound that recalls ‘80s gothic rock and neofolk, while “Two Moons” is softer and light in comparison, echoing the sounds of predecessor Kyrr. However, it is a relatively minor issue that does not retract from how good the record is.
All in all, No Need to Reason is an album that conveys feelings of closeness and warmth. Despite the deep layers and the musical seduction No Need to Reason employs, it’s easy to forget that the music is, at its core, post-metal; that said, this may be the closest metal can get to a slow pop record without outright walking into that genre. Because of this line, Kontinuum makes use of their atmosphere and ambiance to create an LP that is easy to listen to and can be shared with other people. Play this for someone you love – although not romantic at first glance, No Need to Reason is an album that is meant to be shared.
Okay, enough with the bad puns… here’s the full album stream for ya.
No Need to Reason Track Listing:
03. Warm Blood
05. No Need to Reason
06. Low Road
09. Two Moons
10. Black Feather
Run Time: 46:57
Release Date: July 6, 2018
Record Label: Season of Mist