Saturday, 27 September 2014

'The Contortionist' Album Review 'Language'

Having only recently been introduced to The Contortionist I must admit I am a fan of what they do. It was fascinating to discover their first two albums, and having seen the transition between them from their hard-core roots into something much more progressive, I was excited to hear how that transition would evolve into their third album. This does however seem to be the trend with hard-core bands these days in moving things more and more to the progressive side of metal. John Petrucci himself said in an interview recently that he doesn’t understand how progressive music is suddenly “cool” when for so many years it was considered so uncool. However this is the subject of an entirely other discussion (which I have regularly with people, even if they don’t want to………. I’m a bit of a dick that way).

On the surface this is a well-executed album, the tracks flow well from one to the next and there’s nothing that stands out as not belonging to the overall collective of music. The production is solid and everything is well mixed, although personally I feel there are parts where the vocals are perhaps over produced or sit a little too far back in the mix, but that is just pure personal preference I think. From being a vocalist myself, I like to hear every word as clear as day and not for my ears to be fighting through the soundscape to find it. You can’t please everybody though I guess, especially not gingers, we’re miserable fucks in truth!

From the moment track 1: “The Source” begins it is completely clear that this is a progressive album. With most of the synth work having a very “Vangelis” feel to it, and “The source” even feeling like it wouldn’t be out of place on a Cinematic Orchestra release, It is clear what the bands intentions are. This flow continues into a wonderful groove in the two-part title track, before rather suddenly hurtling us into a vivid almost nightmarish vision with the first sign of their heavier roots in the chorus. This continues into part two, which is almost a polar opposite to the beautiful yet jarred flow of part one, almost immediately the tech metal influences of the band come into fruition in a rather, again, haunting way. This track also has my favourite moment of the album, new singer Michael Lessard shows us why he was chosen as carpenters replacement with some fantastically epic and powerful vocal tone and melody, that I honestly wish was shown off more across the album, as opposed to the rather with held vocal pieces. Although I must admit these softer tones create a fantastic juxtaposition with the brutal and tastefully used screaming.

Overall I am a fan. This is an intelligent release from the band, that I feel stands as there best to date. I also feel as though they have found an identity with this album. They have clearly adapted their influences and their song writing history into a sound that is rather unique to them. It is a release that undoubtedly will alienate fans of their earlier stuff as they continue to move more into the realms of progressive metal, however it will also bring them hordes of new fans as well. Most importantly to me it is clear that this band is evolving, or contorting I guess! (get it) either way they are becoming a force to be reckoned with and I genuinely look forward to seeing how this release translates into a live setting and what they have in store for us in the future.

Fuel Rock Club

Fuel Rock Club
Cardiff's Only Dedicated Rock & Metal Bar and Club