In chemistry, when certain incendiary elements amalgamate, they become vehemently explosive. In alternative rock, when certain incendiary elements amalgamate, they become Continua. In fact, whenever the five gentlemen who encompass Continua – Cincinnati based darkwave singer Bishop Battle, Day of Awakening’s Brian Buckalew, and guitarist-songwriter Jason Mulkey, who are joined by Maiden Cane lead guitarist Joey Gilbert and drummer Troy Parrish are able to conjoin their collective talents, the result is a sweeping sonic rhapsody that reflects where their inherent mastery of melody intersects with their technically sharp musicianship.
Continua soar to lofty heights on their debut EP “Flagship”. Hard-hitting and driven, there’s a lot of ear candy sprinkled throughout every song, as Continua reel in glimmering flavors of glam rock, grunge and pop. Perhaps the primary strength of this band, and of this EP in particular, is the amount of space each instrument, and vocalist, gets. This says plenty for the mixing, but even more so for the songwriting and arranging.
The instrumentalists are absolute masters of their instruments, but there is no overplaying to be found on “Flagship”. One point is easy to make right at the outset: Bishop Battle is one of the stars of this recording. Whether it’s stretching out aching notes on rockers, angelically dipping into his falsetto, or delivering a heartfelt ballad, he knocks it out the park.
Bishop’s combination of emotion, power and vulnerability makes him the ideal singer to deliver these new sonic creations, and thereby gives Continua one of its signature palettes. It does help that he has a dynamic ensemble behind him.
Brian Buckalew succeeds in being a rock-solid bassist, bringing his punchy attack to the fore more often than one might expect. Drummer Troy Parrish elevates the band by a few degrees, his precision and power is present on every track, delivering extra intensity.
Lead guitarist Joey Gilbert delivers inspiring playing throughout the EP. Whether it’s a toned-down style or fretboard frenzy, His tone and technique are impeccable. Equally importantly, is Jason Mulkey, who lays down luscious beds of sound that help drive the emotion of these songs. He shines in both writing and performance. The point that comes clear, is that Continua fully coalesce into strong musical homogeneity.
The truth is, every musician helps enormously to add their own vital piece of skill to the complex, but yet fascinating sonic mosaic drawn by this alternative rock collective. Opening with “The Darkest City”, Continua takes your breath away from every angle and every perspective. If the vocal harmonies and guitars fail to reel you in at the first instant, then back away now. The epic aura and soulful verses pave the way before the climaxing choruses stir the soul.
The robust “Fluorescent” is a perfect example of the incredibly melodic, yet thunderous formula Continua are able to weave into their songs. The song also showcases how the mix ensures each instrument has its moment to shine.
Among the many inspired moments present on this EP, the listener will be taken completely by surprise by the exquisite, surreal edge, of the deliciously melodic, “Simple Plan”. Everything is heightened to a superior level on this track, including the blistering guitar solo.
“Echoes” begins as a chilled ballad before erupting into a stirring and dramatic anthem. Bishop Battle’s moving storytelling and heart-wrenching vocals, make this one of the most intriguing songs on the “Flagship” EP.
It is here that you that you begin to sense something extraordinary in this recording. Continua is as much about writing catchy, accessible songs with strong melodies, as it is about writing incredible rock music.
“Always Tomorrow” is outstandingly written, sung and played – a song that encapsulates the spirit of a collective able to allow their artistic vision to spread its wings into infinity without any constriction. This is a tune where the extraordinary balance of vocals and instrumentation never ceases to surprise, in an arrangement of mesmerizing beauty.
The closing track, “Daybreak” leaps forward and twists itself into an understated but zestful power thrust, punctuated by muted guitar lines, and sweetened up by soaring vocals and scintillating keys.
The “Flagship” EP contains all the things that make Continua songs so addictive – strong melodies and vocals, technical prowess, and the ability to make you sing along one moment, and then bask in instrumental excellence the next. The album drops officially on November 11, 2020 – just in time to be featured on many a “best-of” list at the end of the year.