The Contortionist


Written by: MN on 30/09/2014 15:16:02

The Contortionist. Even the name implies an unusual form of display which involves dramatic bending and flexing of, in this case, composition. The Contortionist have released two records, both of which prove them to be forerunners in modern progressive metal, where bands like Animals As Leaders, Tesseract and Skyharbor already retain a permanent residency.

Their last record "Intrinsic" proved how The Contortionist can bend, mould, stretch and thereby surprise at every turn, their musical prowess is immaculate and no one would even think to deny it. That being said, where does the boundary go? When does the strive to remain different and original end up in a mesh of asinine cockyness? The world of progressive metal presents itself with a myriad of boundary-crossing daredevils, but it is of course only certain bands that manage to combine this strive for complexity with that of good songwriting.

The Contortionist's first record "Exoplanet" displayed exuberant and reckless impulsivity, the rebellious youth of a band ready to show its skills and drills to great avail. While the heavyness of their early days should not be forgotten, "Languages" presents a mature growth in their sound where the heaviness is smoothed out and more skillfully employed in the soundscape. With the new vocalist Michael Lessard (formerly of Last Chance to Reason), more explicit attention to melody is apparent, especially in songs like "Arise" and "Language I: Intuition" where the latter displays Lessard's soulful vocals pleasantly aviated above the complex rhythms and riffs beneath.

The third track of the record displays the new vocalist's attempts at harsh vocals, which are largely succesful but at times a bit forced. Just like Tesseract, the band is drawing closer to a blend of fusion jazz prog-metal where drum intervals and odd time signatures are meshed together with a soulful vocal line. Tosin Abasi-style riffage is of course also present in many of the tracks, especially in "Intergration" where the djenty style maxes out completely. One of the stronger tracks is "Thrive" where the vocals perfectly mix with the instrumental section, especially towards the midpart where the vocals are retired by a searing guitar solo, something that they easily could experiment more with. "Ebb And Flow" is another song that allows for some serious guitar experimentation, proving that The Contortionist have not gone soft.

The Contortionist have released another great record to explore and upon multiple listens, new impressions, textures and sounds become apparent, making it an intriguing listen. If there is anything in terms of critique, then there are times where certain riffs and passages just are a little bit too longwinded, which ends up with the listener losing the undivided attention that records like "Languages" deserve. Also, occasionally the vocals lack a bit of penetrative power as it sometimes just feels like an additional melodic line upon the complexities.

Download: Ebb And Flow, Thrive, Language I: Intuition
For The Fans Of: Skyharbor, Animals As Leaders, Protest The Hero

Release date 16.09.2014
Basement Recording

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