The Contortionist
Style: Progressive Metal
Release date: 19 October, 2012
Playing time: 45:08

The battlefield of the explosive and flourishing djent scene is expanding it's boundaries to all hidden corners of our blue planet, and many new bands have joined and are fighting amongst each other to become the rightfully heir of the throne of legendary Meshuggah. Especially those acts hailing from the borders of United Kingdom (TesseracT, Monuments, SikTh), France (Uneven Structure), Netherlands (Textures), India (Skyharbor), Sweden (Vildhjarta) and not to forget the champions from United States (Periphery, Stealing Axion, Animals As Leaders) have added their own distinct signature sound to the scene, and have produced some epic memorable moments in the history of prog metal. These are the giants battling across the landscape of the progressive landscape, and so here we are again with another prog quintet from US fully armed to their teeth with heavy artillery of bombastic thunderous drums, battering polyrhythms and aggressive down-tuned guitar riffs mixed with melodic ambient passages, trying to conquer and tearing up the stages around the globe.

In 2009, Dave Hoffman on vox left the band after the release of their EP “Apparition”, and then their current front man Jonathan Carpenter stepped in to fill out the open gap, to hold the flag of ‘The Contortionist’, leading his fearless “Band of Brothers” into battle for a glorious victory seeking recognition for their hard dedicated work and ambitious craftsmanship. With him fighting, side by side, we find his metal brothers Cameron Maynard and Robby Baca on guitars, Christopher Tilley on bass and Robby’s brother Joey Baca on drums and percussion. The troop is again fully represented by the original members that were performing on the debut album entitled “Exoplanet” released two years ago. Now they have finally returned with their latest effort ‘Intrinsic’. So please put on your best armory, begin digging your own foxhole, take cover and prepare to defend yourself against the full assault by the djentlemen…The Contortionist! The battle has begun…

Our bodies will be heavily bombarded with influences from prog metal, deathcore, tech death metal and ambient soundscapes throughout the ten tunes enrolled on the track list of their sophomore full length album ‘Intrinsic’, which is just barely reaching the other side of the 45 minutes of playing time.

From the beginning of the first tone played of the opening track ‘Holomovement’ to the last breathe on the ending track ‘Parallel Trance’, atmospheric sound trances are beautifully weaved into the perfectly performed polyrhythmic playing parts delivered by Cameron and Robby, with those now-famous staccato patterns, that will be tickling and nursing our ear canals on each tune. The presence of Mr. Carpenter’s voice is complementing the melodic atmospheric passages with its clean and mellow whispering tone, though it lacks some punch and diversity, and gets pretty boring and annoying to listen too at the end of the album. His strength lies within his “Jekyll & Hyde” vocal performance and he really shines, when he transforms into “Dr. Hyde” and starts throwing up screams and deep brutal growls out of his mouth. Of course we are not to forget the maniacal explosive drum work by Joey that is sheer violence, but he stills needs to tighten up the drumming, which sounds at times like hitting a garbage can with a stick. It’s not all awful though, and undoubtedly ‘Intrinsic’ is more progressive, complex and darker than ‘Exoplanet’, still I would have preferred the pure energy, chock full of brutal heavy riffs to post-deathcore breakdowns and the melodic breaks mixed together and melted perfectly in the melting pot of ‘Exoplanet’.

Time is one of the most valued and precious things in life that you can never get back again. So it should be spend wisely in the company of the music you care about. This album ‘Intrinsic’ never made any serious impact on my metal brain, so has it been a total waste of my precious time? No definitely not, because it’s the only reason why I have resumed my love affair with its predecessor ‘Exoplanet’, and I thank “The Contortionist” from deep within my metal heart and soul for digging up my old dusty memories and feelings to a long lost forgotten treasure. If they can sharpen up the production, the clean singing performance and return to their old roots, then I’m sure this quintet has a bright future ahead of them, and will become an unstoppable force on the battlefield of the prog metal scene with their unique hybrid sound.

01. Holomovement
02. Feedback Loop
03. Causality
04. Sequential Vision
05. Geocentric Confusion
06. Dreaming Schematics
07. Anatomy Anomalies
08. Cortical
09. Solipsis
10. Parallel Trance
Label: Season of Mist
Distribution: Target (Denmark)
Artwork rating: 72/100
Reviewed by: Tommy Skøtt
Date: 14 November, 2012