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Thecodontion - Supercontinent (I, Voidhanger Records/Repose Records) Album Review

    Ian Jane

  • Thecodontion - Supercontinent (I, Voidhanger Records/Repose Records) Album Review

    Released by: I, Voidhanger Records/Repose Records
    Released on: June 26th, 2020.
    Purchase From Amazon or Bandcamp

    Thecodontion were founded in Rome, Italy in 2016 by G.E.F. (vocals) and G.D. (bass) and are one of those rare metal bands that do not use guitars in their music. Instead, they use “two finger-picked, distorted basses (with a third one for solos), vocals, and drums” and, as such, they have a very unique sound, one that defies the typical expectations of black and death metal outfits. Their latest album, Supercontinent, is described by the band as 'is a concept album about ancient supercontinents, from Vaalbara to Pangaea.' The album, their first full-length, follows their self-titled demo from 2018 and an EP entitled Jurassic that was released in 2019.

    Supercontinent opens with Gyrosia, an ultra-sludgy two-minute exercise in surreal, moody bass playing and ominous percussion that is heavy on instrumentation and devoid of lyrics named after one of the Earth's super oceans. It's a great way to set the mood and open up the album, a precursor of sorts for what is to come.

    Vaalbara, which clocks in at just over four-minutes, is a bit more of a traditional metal track but it's still got that unique sound given that there's no guitar. G.E.F.'s vocals deal with volcanic eruptions and evolution, meteorites and 'lunar soil carbon chondrules' - so it's seriously heady stuff but it really works in the musical context that these guys have created. It's a track that somehow manages to sound epic in scope and somewhat minimalist at the same time.

    Ur is the track on the album with the second longest running time and the shortest title! Lyrically it covers the assemblage of the continents - making it one of the rare metal tracks about plate tectonics! Again, it's got an appropriately sludgy vibe to it when it starts, channeling the sound of primordial ooze both in instrumentation and vocal delivery. This is about as guttural sounding as it gets, a doomy sounding track delivered at a much slower pace than much of the other content on the album.

    Kenoreland is a straight ahead blast of black metal and blackened thrash about the formation of the Canadian Shield, which is amazing in its own way. The lyrics on this record are a weird mix of dark poetry and geography/geology classes and it's pretty fantastic. This track, which is four-and-a-half minutes long, is probably the most traditional 'metal' song on the record but it's still got that ominous vibe to it that makes it unique and interesting, almost ambient in a way.

    Lerova is a quick two-and-a-half-minute instrumental segment, again about a super ocean, that sounds almost like it might have been inspired by dark prog as at times it sounds a bit like a Goblin track. It's an interesting piece that again helps to set the right mood on the record.

    Nuna is a lengthier, six-minute piece that again delves pretty deep into black metal territory with sacrificing atmospherics in favor of speed. It is, like everything else on the record, very dark in tone and dirty, filthy sounding in its delivery but very much high concept in terms of its lyrical content. It builds really nicely to an impressively heavy conclusion.

    Rodinia, which runs four-minutes, slows things down a bit, but only a bit, with the vocals again sounding like something crawling out of the mud. The bass playing here is thick and chunky, not focused as much on speed and more on depth and tone. The drumming is a bit more primitive, with some really effective cymbal crashes serving as audible highlights to what is essentially a poem about glaciers and ocean floors. A long instrumental stretch in the middle of the song proves to be seriously intense.

    Tethys is a third instrumental track, running two-minutes and once again doing a great job of solidifying the genuinely dark mood and atmosphere that the band has clearly worked so hard in maintaining on this record. It's a calmer, more melodic effort, almost jazzy in spots, but the musicianship here is really spot-on, quite polished and emotionally moving despite the lack of lyrical content.

    The three-minute Laurasia-Gondwana almost sounds like a Nomeansno track for the first few seconds, until the vocals kick in and the drums erupt, at which point, yeah, this is just as heavy as metal can get. The rhythmic bass pummeling contrasts nicely with the cymbals and the kick drum, G.E.F.'s vocals again sounding as volcanic as the song's lyrical content. You've got to love a track that makes reference to lycopods, pteridophytes and petrified voltziaelan conifers.

    Pangaea proves quite epic at almost eight-minutes in length, opening up with a mid-tempo bass assault and more of G.E.F.'s guttural, howling, demonic vocals. We're full on into plate tectonics in this track, again it's all very high concept, but the band keeps up the pace here. The long instrumental stretches deliberately keep you intrigued and even tense, wanting to know where things are going to go from here…

    …and where they go is to Panthalassa, a three-minute instrumental track named after the proto-Pacific Oean. The four instrumental pieces on this record are all very cool and serve the purpose of breaking up the ridiculously heavy tracks, giving the listener a bit of a reprieve and providing the album with a bit of beauty to stand in stark aural contrast to the wonderful ugliness of the 'metal' tracks. This one is the calmest of the four, opening with a simple drum beat and then introducing an equally simple bass riff shortly thereafter. The music grows slowly more complex as the track proceeds, then goes almost silent, before then building back up but never opening up with both barrels and blasting the way you expect it to.

    The fact that this band is so good at defying expectations is part of what makes this record as interesting and unique as it is. These guys can play, and the vocals are solid, but you can say that about thousands of other metal bands too. Lyrically, this goes in directions you do not expect it will, and the musicianship follows that, creating an album that is moody, evocative, fascinating and absolutely worth seeking out.

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