The latest in a string of hardcore-related imports from the United Kingdom, South Wales’ Continents seem to have a decent amount of buzz going for them with the release of their Victory Records debut LP Idle Hands. This album is an expected entry into the metal-tinged world of hardcore, ripe with crunching guitars, rhythmic swagger and a hint of melody to boot. While it is far from inventive in terms of standing out from the pack, what Idle Hands is able to do more often than not is engage my liking for bands from Bring Me the Horizon to Of Mice & Men through a confident command of their often mosh-ready attack. It isn’t mind blowing, pardon the pun, but Idle Hands is more than respectable enough at times to suggest these guys have something to build upon in the future.
Picking the title track as the lead-off single is a strange move in its somewhat disjointed stream of tempos and intensities via blistering drums and a heaping dose of off-kilter passages. The gritty chorus shows a bit of their songwriting might though – something later tracks on this disc do a much better job of proving in the wake of songs like “Trials” or “Pegasus, Pegasus”, the latter giving us a strong contrast between pummeling verses and the slightly clean sung, upbeat chorus. “Trials” on the other hand is a double-edged sword in the fact that while it might be one of the better cuts on the disc, it sounds like it should have been a b-side to an early Bring Me the Horizon release right down to the lyrics (‘If you’re not dreaming, then you’re just sleeping’). While that’s totally fine in the grand scheme, it wouldn’t take much for less enthusiastic fans of the chug n’ slug attack to dismiss Continents based on the fact that they’re still kind of finding a unique voice in what seems to be a pretty bloated genre.
Vocally, this record is a little off-center in that the rather gruff screams are pretty decipherable through most of the songs – even if they don’t quite show the versatility commanded by top notch screamers. Again, this is probably just showing the age of the band, who’ve only been together since 2009, but adding things like bits of layered screams, plain old talking and gang vocals add some of the depth I would like to expect from bands trying to truly crack into the ranks of metalcore and the like. That being said, much like the music, vocalist Phil Cross certainly has points on this record where his lower bark mends perfectly with the drop-tuned slamming (“Land of the Free”) or the sparser, less metallic, dare I say catchier moments such as the ending to “Regrets”. It’s not that his voice is bad – I would almost say it works just well enough in the mix of brash and accessible – but it just needs a little something to push it over the edge, something that will probably come with a little more time I’m sure.
If breakdowns or energetic metal-tinged hardcore is your thing, Continents’ new disc Idle Hands will certainly be up your alley. Even though they don’t do too much you haven’t heard in other iterations, the band’s drive and passion seep through the cracks enough to kind of forget that fact in the name of pure enjoyment. If anything, this album proves Continents is a band to be on the lookout for in the future.