A somewhat less talked about quality of technical death metal is the idea of weight. Whereas words such as ‘massive’ and ‘crushing’ are often used to describe many albums as most heavy music generally goes, weight on its own is something seen as an additional aspect of what’s already being listened to when it comes to tech death – something that may very well enhance the listening experience, but rarely what the music primarily relies on to evoke whatever imagery the artists are shooting for. Yet Ingurgitating Oblivion’s Continuum of Absence decidedly breaks the mold there, ambitiously choosing to focus on precisely that.
Continuum of Absence more or less seeks to bring out and emphasize the claustrophobic in death metal; a persistent sense of unease threads its way through the album, as the band pummels through one dissonant sequence after another. Vocals rain acid over the well-plotted, slow burning chaos underneath, and the rhythm section is suitably monstrous while tying it all together. Comparisons to the sound of Canadian tech death giants Gorguts are inevitable, but Ingurgitating Oblivion manage to hold their own on Continuum – while there are very clear sonic similarities between the two bands, Ingurgitating Oblivion do have a noticeably more rounded and atmospheric take on death metal than Gorguts’ sharper technical approach, and the album is ultimately all the better for it.
What truly stands out about so much of Continuum is indeed the aforementioned sense of weight – the verses on ‘Stupendous, Featureless, Still’, for instance, forego a traditionally blazing fast approach for a layered wall of sound that unapologetically overwhelms the listener from first note to last, and most of the album – save for the unrelenting, albeit short, choice cut that is ‘Offering’ – follows suit. The mixing on the album allows the guitars plenty of breathing room to weave their way over one another from one discordant sequence to the next, and the unsettling atmospheres they generate together are honestly stunning in their scope. Ingurgitating Oblivion know their way around their sonic palette and they know it well – the sense of unease is absolutely delightful, and it’s hard not to be swept right along by the album’s haunting proceedings.
Yet as much as it succeeds in that department, the album is not without its flaws. Almost every song on Continuum begins with a minute or so of ambient noise, which initially works extremely well in setting the stage for each successive onslaught to come (as the ambience is suitably no less discomforting than the actual songs themselves) but after a few listens the interludes just become a tiresome bother and usually end up needing to be skipped over. It’s a minor annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless. The only other issue, however small, is how the bass tracks have been handled on certain parts – while they sound absolutely solid for most of the album, there are a couple of few and far between parts where the bass suddenly sounds awkwardly situated within the context of what else is going on for a short period of time, almost leaving the listener somewhat puzzled as to what just happened. It’s understandable that the guitars were given precedence considering the atmospheric nature of the music, but having the bass unexpectedly cut through the mix on (thankfully) rare occasions before retreating back down immediately after sounds a little off-putting at first, and not necessarily in the way one might think the band intended.
That being said, the pros vastly outweigh the cons here, and Continuum of Absence is an excellent, well performed album overall, with the band’s clear ambition in making the record shining through and only enhancing the experience. Indeed, Ingurgitating Oblivion set a very particular and unique tone before plunging the listener unrestrained into its delightfully claustrophobic depths. The magic of it all is that they somehow make it hard to want to swim back out.
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Ingurgitating Oblivion’s Continuum of Absence gets…