Continuum: 2

Fear Falls Burning & Nadja: s/t

Impressively presented in a tall, DVD-style digipack accompanied by three postcards showing Lasse Hoile's artwork, the second Continuum collaboration between Dirk Serries (VidnaObmana, Fear Falls Burning) and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Bass Communion, Blackfield) features three molten epics. After four minutes of near-silence initiates “Construct IV,” guitars enter with crushing force accompanied by a rattle-snake cymbal that thenceforth keeps slow, deathly time. Though Continuum 2's gloomy soundscaping invites an ‘electronic music' classification, hellish guitars dominate the opening piece so much the label ‘black metal' might be more appropriate. The mood is bleak and apocalyptic, and the song's ruined sonic landscapes are bereft of life, save for massive beasts that lumber aimlessly, decimating everything in their paths. The glacial tempo in “Construct IV” doesn't waver but the sound itself grows ever larger with a violent windstorm battling it out with the guitar sludge for supremacy. Phantoms murmur in the opening minutes of “Construct V,” after which the piece settles into an electrical drone and eventually morphs into a slow-burning stream of lava-like flow. The death march continues in “Construct VI,” with the intensity level again growing incrementally into a seething roar over the piece's eighteen-minute reign. How amazing that there are listeners salivating at the prospect of acquiring such lethal material.

If anything, the Fear Falls Burning (Belgium-based guitarist Dirk Serries) and Nadja (Canadians Aidan Baker on guitar and drums and Leah Buckareff on bass) collaboration goes even deeper on its four untitled tracks. The first plunges the trio into the center of a volcano where distorted drones bleed and raw chords rupture. Moving at a deathly crawl, skeletal drum beats bridge the gap between the first and second pieces, paving the way for an inferno of smoldering riffs to emerge. The guitars slowly build into a dive-bombing swarm before decompressing for the more subdued third part which resembles a meandering, low-level organ drone. A similar restraint characterizes the concluding section, until blistering chords detonate halfway through, ending the disc in a funereal meltdown. One could easily imagine the two discs to be exemplars of the ‘snuff film soundtracks' genre.

November 2007