Continuum The Hypothesis - 01Oh math, how I hate you. Next to physics (which ruined my day with its so-called “gravity” as I scaled my childhood tree fort and refuses me the privilege to smoothly glide around corners in my front-wheel-drive Pontiac Vibe), math straight-up pisses me off. If it’s not simple algebra, I admittedly can’t solve a mathematical problem to save my life. I know it’s my fault for tuning out during Calc I, II, and III but I just don’t care. That’s right math; fuck you and your solving-problems-for-no-reason mentality, your dumb-ass variables, and for making me feel stupid.

You’re probably asking yourself, what does Dr. Grier’s Rant of the Day have to do with Continuum’s debut release? Let me get right down to it. When I first snagged Continuum’s The Hypothesis, I immediately thought of laying the number eight on its side, finding my worthless high-school math teacher, and then shoving it up his ass. But, thankfully, The Hypothesis has some musical substance that does more for me than make me feel like a jackass for not comprehending “levels” of infinity. The debut from this Santa Cruz-area “supergroup” takes all that boring math mumbo-jumbo and uses it to fuel this razor-sharp tech-death vehicle. Be sure to pay attention, there’s a quiz at the end.

I say “supergroup” because ex-Son of Aurelius, ex-Animosity, and current Decrepit Birth mastermind Chase Fraser stacked Continuum’s ranks with members from some of California’s finest tech-death bands; Deeds of Flesh, Arkaik, Flesh Consumed, and Son of Aurelius. With mic and drumming duties handled by Son of Aurelius’ Riley McShane and Spencer Edwards, respectively, one would assume some similarities to their 2014 outing, Under a Western Sun. However, McShane goes for the deeper death growls and sharp rasps, reminiscent of bands like Origin and Aborted, rather than employ his phenomenal clean singing. Between his rasps and the biting guitar licks from Fraser and Ivan Munguia, tech-death fans will find all they need from the neck-breaking (and dumbly titled) “Wasps in the History of the Weak” and the highly-calculated and devastating “A Surreal Descent.” Solid and memorable, these tracks are standouts on The Hypothesis. Other big moments include the one-two punch of opener “Hypothesis; A Profound Discovery” and its follow-up, “The Epiphany.” So concise and fluid, you’ll mistakenly assume these two were the same song.

Unicorn1

And then there is the drumming. Edwards transforms into a drum-kit mutant as he drops the current progressive metal sound of SoA and utilizes a back-to-basics brutal tech approach on The Hypothesis. While neither over-doing it nor going stale, Edwards powers through “The Awakened Creator” and hammers offbeat nails into your brain on the nine-minute closer “Steppes of Ascension.” And for those that want the spattering and blasting of mighty hands and feet, the first half of instrumental “Where the Worlds were Left” should leave an impression (even though it really serves no purpose on the album).

Though the recording and balance of the album are well done, Zack Ohren’s mix brings to mind Fallujah’s Flesh Prevails (yep, here we go again). Sadly, the dynamics on The Hypothesis force me to clip its score, but not at the same magnitude as it clips on me. Seriously, it’s so loud it makes me wince and the ear fatigue is impossible to escape. This is very apparent on “Steppes of Ascension.” While the best riff on the album dwells in its staffs, its constant barrage of instrumentation and its nine-minute length are wearing and run a good four minutes too long. Luckily, this is offset by the half-hour runtime of the album; keeping the throbbing to a minimum and, while still exhausting, repeated listens are not unbearable.

These issues aside, this album should please most techies (especially the back half). Not as impressive as Origin’s mighty Omnipresent and not as enjoyable (in my opinion) as Fraser’s work on SoA’s The Farthest Reaches, the instrumentation is impressive and the execution is exact. It’ll be interesting to see where these guys go from here. I guess math doesn’t always have to be boring after all.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: Facebook.com/Continuum
Release Dates: EU: 2015.05.18 | NA: 04.21.2015

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  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Holy shit! That unicorn…

    • I’ve been waiting to unleash that one on some promo pic challenged band of miscreants.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        It is quite the piece of art. It must have taken weeks to perfect.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Keep ’em comin’. I’m lovin’ it.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Talk about supergroup…They’ve got spheres, unicorns and a diabolical DR it’s all happening here…seems a bit 2014 to me…

  • Oh Zack. I have to say that after all that discussion on the Fallujah review I now have only one thing to say about him:

    • Thatguy

      At the risk of opening the can of worms yet again, I liked the Fallujah album a lot and the sound is probably integral to my liking it

      As for this one I do agree with sir_c below – it is too smart-arsed by half and musically incoherent on a quick listen. Maybe it would grow on me but I don’t think I will bother.

      • De2013

        As I cannot resist dipping into an opened can of worms:

        I’ve been listening to the Fallujah record since last month and had read the reviews before that.

        I do largely agree with Kronos’ intial review. Primarily concerning the mastering. One of my first impressions listening to it was how ‘small’ and ‘compact’ the music sounded. Normally when listening to this on my above average system, the whole room is filled with music. Now with this record, there’s only a small portion between the two loud speakers filled. Something like a box in a box.

        However, musically I really like the record. Never listened to them before, but I’m very likely to check out their older stuff.

        • Thatguy

          I won’t bite on this worm – there is a hook attached

        • The loudness wars debate must look ridiculously quixotic sometimes I’ll admit that much.

          And hey apparently it was an artistic decision to make it that loud before any other concern.

          So I guess it’s either we accept it as such or “you must not like Fallujah’s music that much since it’s already very dense” or some other argument like that.

          Funny that most people here said they liked the music. Even the original review.

    • Would have responded if I saw this 2 years ago, but this thing was made basically in a few days in 2011 I believe so i don’t see how I could have applied anything from the Fallujah discussion to this haha. Sorry about that and sorry I missed this till now.

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    The anti intlligence opening of this review reads like an intro to an insane clown posse record.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I’m sure I should be insulted but I will ignore that and take it as a compliment :)

      • This is where we usually start posting IQ scores and/or bench press stats..

        • De2013

          Yeah the elitist circle jerk thing got old really fast.

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        That’s good, my comment was dickish.

        I was just sad to see the comparison of math (which I love because it’s a powerful tool to understand the world) to this (which is wankery).

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I’m still not a fan of math but my frustration with the music and the theme of the album (as well as the production) is the same as yours. Also, “dickish” is the word of the month so all is good.

        • Celaeno

          I’m with you. It’s so funny how different people see math so differently. To me, it’s so elegant and so powerful, and so harmonious. I *especially* love Physics. To me, it’s all related. Biology=Applied Chemistry=Applied Physics=Applied Math.

  • manimal

    DEAR ZACK.

    I RESPECTED YOUR DECISION LAST TIME ROUND TO ENGAGE IN INTELLIGENT, CIVILISED DEBATE REGARDING THE FALLUJAH MASTER. I AM ALSO FULLY AWARE THAT YOU DID SO UNDER YOUR REAL NAME, WITHOUT HIDING BEHIND THE ANONYMITY OF THE INTERNET LIKE I AM, RIGHT NOW.

    HOWEVER, A QUESTION FROM THE GALLERY…

    DON’T YOU FIND ALL-CAPS ALL THE TIME SOMEWHAT EXHAUSTING?

    LOVE,

    MANIMAL

    • Óðhinn

      Manimal never backs down from a challenge.

      https://youtu.be/1GPivF-z5QA

    • Sorry would have responded to this years ago if I knew this was here.

      I think a misunderstanding that should be pointed out is that this album was mixed/mastered back in 2011 roughly, years before Fallujah’s records I worked on. So I probably would have engaged on this but I couldn’t have retroactively gone in a time machine to add more dynamics to this mix/master I did in about a day 6 years ago haha. That said I think the dynamics are the least of the problems I dealt with in this project.

      • manimal

        Which makes complete sense. I’ve heard and read long rants from mixing-and mastering engineers who had to make potentially great-sounding records sound like excrement because that is what the client wants. And sometimes, being able to hear less of a mix is a blessing in disguise.

        I’m disappointed about the time-machine bit though. As an ME you’re supposed to be well-versed in sprinkling magic pixie dust over shitty mixes to make them sound like that-other-band, so time-travel should at best be a meagre test of your talents.

  • Martin Knap

    A mathematically challenged person here also. I’m no Kurt Gödel either. Cheers.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It’s the main reason I went into sciences that don’t require anymore than a scientific calculator to do math…

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Can you hear it? Yes, it’s that riff… that drum pattern… mmmm that crystal clear sound of the bass so thoroughly buried under a blanket of white noise. The sounds of a genre so discombobulating, yet, paradoxically, so devoid of a single original idea that its familiarity makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. There is nothing Unique about it, but that’s why you love it!

    And then there is the fantastic lyric video whose content (besides the music) comprises some stunning panning and occasionally shaking (!!) shots of the magnificent, sphere-laden master work that is the album cover and beautiful, intense yet meaningful lyrics about hornets in space, violet frame rates and “flippantly spinning in disregard”.

    In sum, this band represents everything I love about technical death metal and metal in general. I once heard my mom say “bah, that heavy metal filth… that’s just noise and screams”. Phahaha! How wrong she was!

  • sir_c

    I miss some cohesion, each band member is going its own way here without paying much attention to the rest of what his mates are doing.

    It’s like some wild household where dad is jackhammering the bathroom tiles off the wall, mum is vacuuming the house, son is gaming on the X-box over the stereo and daughter is yelling from upstairs she can’t study because of all the row.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Nice!!

    • Aguy

      Chorecore! *throws up the horns*

  • The opening comment reads: “I’m going to be honest, I have tried several different unicorn masks in the past.”

    This is a bargain at twice the price and I’m getting one!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Don’t laugh finding the right unicorn mask is a lot harder than you might think…

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Incredible.

  • Óðhinn

    Very generic modern Tech Death. Wasting so much energy to be so boring seems pointless. No thanks.

    No offense to Dr. A.N. Grier who writes solid reviews.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yeah, I was really hoping for something special. And no offense taken. Them be kind words you says.