THECODONTION – Supercontinent (2020)REVIEW

Towering at the apex position and thriving by way of their war upon unfathomably ancient Earth, it would take cataclysm and random cosmic intervention to usurp our true Triassic god-beasts. Controversial as the looseness of their cladistic taxonomy is, you will know them by the roots of their teeth and the age of their bones. Socket-tooth’d, gigantic, and capable of unimaginable bloodshed by way of their reinforced bite these were the archaic monstrosities that’d kept the cartoonish reality of the Jurassic at bay yet, as any human here at the end of the world could attest, all rule collapses eventually. Roman experimental death metal band Thecodontion appear to have set their sights upon the proverbial throne on their debut full-length ‘Supercontinent‘, pushing aside a portion of their frantically jammed warring era while reworking the meat of their bass guitar-driven sound into an enthralling avant-garde death metal record. High-functioning works built from from primal textures.

Much as I enjoyed this Italian band’s first demo (‘Thecodontia‘, 2018) and EP (‘Jurassic‘, 2019), it’d been too easy to suggest the lack of a guitarist made Thecodontion‘s high speed attack appear sparse yet their attack was certainly never ineffective. Short war metal songs with punkish death metal progressions and varied vocals were enough to carry my interest in their obscure format when approaching ‘Jurassic’, yet I’ll admit that I didn’t see the potential for their sound. Where could they possibly take their sound next? The answer pertaining to what they’ve become isn’t too far removed from ‘Jurassic’, only focusing on deeper intricacy, spaced-out atmospheric pieces, and a sharpened springy tech death bass guitar tone set atop fairly loose-necked death metal rhythms and black metal drumming. The major difference comes with wildly broadened stylistic dynamism; Gently achieved bass solos and (roughly four) interludes often express as death-tuned space rock jams or ominous noise rock-esque punches that juxtapose smartly with pieces that show some evolution beyond the quick n’ primitive punching of ‘Jurassic’. The disorienting “Gyrosia” and its bluster into the untidy hulk of “Vaalbara” offers an immediate glance into this world which Thecodontion expands upon from that point, gaining deeper space-fairing properties whilst hitting their brutal and damned stride as the album nears its end.

No doubt you’ll hit that second song and start to think “Nice, they’ve added guitars this time.” Nope! Bassist G.D. (Perpetuum Mobile) handles those parts as well as each meandering bass rhythm on the record. The only the exception being “Pangea” which contains standout lead guitars from J.G.P. of Bedsore. I found this bass-only sound particularly impressive and well-performed as a deep lover of distinct bass guitar tone and high-brained performances. Some might see the lack of guitars as a rough gimmick for the sake of being different but this time around I’d insist their surrogate use of the lead instrument is particularly inspired. What do they sound like? I’ve seen apt comparisons point towards Geryon and Oksennus, in some sense that works for the sake of each band aiming for unorthodox structures and ‘Supercontinent’ certainly features more than a few moments conjured from some manner of improvisational waypoints.

Death roars and spitting rasps voice sharply writ prose — In some impressive feat of artistically swerving scientific language the splendor of dinosaurs, the emergent visualization of continental drift towards Pangaea, and the massive oceans abroad all come to illustrated a dark planet ruled by long-dead ‘dragons’. I didn’t go as far as fact-checking references to the right era/period for certain language but the major point to make here’d be that the theme and visualization inherent is intelligent and ‘serious’ enough to not feel like an inside joke or a goof; The subject matter had me daydreaming wildly about pre-human Earth and just exactly how severe, destructive, and thrillingly diverse its creatures and habitats were. If you’re less suggestible and perhaps not prone to read a lyric sheet, the growls and rasps come with reasonable variation.

An uncanny exploration of ancient times sets my mind not only unto theme precisely but emphasizes meditations upon the tribalistic ferality of Thecodontion‘s minimalistic-yet-enlightened sound. I’d gone from “Seriously, no guitar?” on the first listen towards drawing imaginary dinosaurs on my desk by the third listen. I’ve gained appreciation for what this Italian duo have put together on ‘Supercontinent’ with each spin. To bear such a divergent sound is fun to start but I don’t think it’d have stuck with me if the actual content wasn’t so thoughtfully and artfully achieved. This strangely clanging death noise wouldn’t have sealed the deal for me without the layout/cover artwork from Stefan Thanneur, who is certainly the right fit for music that is as intricate and intuitively avant-garde as Thecodontion. All falls into place well enough that I’ve given ‘Supercontinent’ a high recommendation.

High recommendation.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records
RELEASE DATE:June 26th, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Bandcamp [All formats]
GENRES:Experimental Death Metal,
Black/Death Metal,
Pangean Histrionics

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