Album Debut: Ingurgitating Oblivion – Continuum Of Absence
One minute and 37 seconds into “Eternal Quiescence,” the opening track on Ingurgitating Oblivion‘s Continuum of Absence, a guitar amp slashes through the ambient nothingness, emitting a ridiculously sour strum of revolting dissonance. At that point you’ll know if the German death metallers are for you.
All metalheads have a certain rhythm or tone they’re drawn to more than any other. It might be a stoner crunch or a trad gallop. Some hearts beat in d-beat, some heads nod to the falsetto wail of demonic possession. Occasionally it’s the thing that got you into metal in the first place, but it’s always what keeps you here. It’s hard to explain, but when you hear it you just know.
My device of choice is the discordant lurch. It’s the kind of riff that sounds like an enormous monstrosity on the move. It undulates with sinister purpose, unstoppable in its propulsion. Yet its heavy gait is the result of intricate interlocking parts; the whole thing topples over if one element misfires. When it comes to the lurch, Immolation and Deathspell Omega are master craftsmen. Gorguts’ “Clouded” created an equation few others could calculate. Blut Aus Nord’s MoRT submerged all of it in a Silent Hill sense of impending horror.
Ingurgitating Oblivion’s lurch kicks me right in the gut. The corresponding overdose of unease feels wonderful.
The rest of “Eternal Quiescence” plays out like Morbid Angel channeled through a brain on the brink of a mental breakdown, a mind suddenly untethered from the teachings grounding the rest of us. However, the realization that Ingurgitating Oblivion are cracked creeps in like a fog because the band’s nuttiness is comparatively subtle. What I mean is that their components are recognizable: drummer Ingo Neugebauer blasts, guitarists Florian Engelke and Sascha Hermersdorf chug and squeal, bassist Christian Pfeil counters riffs with on-the-spot variations, and singer Ulrich Kreienbrink growls and grunts. On paper, it’s death metal. In practice, there’s a distinct detachment from normalized death metal reality. The previously mentioned pieces are sewn back together with an alien perspective, making the final product legitimately discomforting as if it was death metal’s uncanny valley. But Ingurgitating Oblivion’s commitment to their material and the meticulous design of their album eventually rewires your thinking.
Continuum of Absence has been a long time coming; long enough for Ingurgitating Oblivion to formulate their own logic and long enough for them to learn to play it flawlessly. The group last released an album, their well-regarded LP debut Voyage Towards Abhorrence, in 2005. It was a genre highlight at a time when up-and-coming death metal bands were deciding authenticity and godawful production jobs went hand in hand. Continuum of Absence, like its near-decade-older sibling, sounds full and clear of clutter, refusing to hide under a safety blanket of reverb. No intricate interlocking part is obscured.
This cut-no-corner philosophy extends to Continuum of Absence‘s overall atmosphere. The tracks are buffered by ambient segues which, breaking from the death metal norm, are actually affecting, capturing the same terrifying emptiness as Lustmord. The track sequencing is even better. Provided you survive, the first three tracks act as a philosopher’s stone for the rest of the album. The impact of the more immediate “Offering” — which begins with one of the filthiest riffs of the year — is made all the greater by the 35-odd minutes of void-staring proceeding it. So Continuum of Absence sets up this contradictory listening experience: it rewards patience, but when that first chord rings out, you just know.