Intrinsic

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Band Name The Contortionist
Album Name Intrinsic
Type Album
Erscheinungsdatum 17 Juli 2012
Produced by Jason Suecof
Musik GenreProgressive Metal
Mitglieder die dieses Album besitzen31

Tracklist

1. Holomovement 06:30
2. Feedback Loop 05:08
3. Causality 04:28
4. Sequential Vision 03:55
5. Geocentric Confusion 05:50
6. Dreaming Schematics 04:36
7. Anatomy Anomalies 05:01
8. Cortical 04:43
9. Solipsis 01:36
10. Parallel Trance 03:21
Total playing time 45:08


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Review @ Crinn

26 August 2012

18/20

The Contortionist seems to be getting more experimental and progressive (literally) with each release. Starting out as a traditional (aka generic) deathcore band self-releasing two EPs, the second one which is actually pretty good, then coming out with a “progressive deathcore” album as their debut full-length, Exoplanet. After releasing this, they hit the road with Periphery and Textures which caused their fan base to EXPLODE in both numbers and in anticipation for new material. Now, The Contortionist is in a similar position that bands like Periphery, Animals as Leaders, and Iwrestledabearonce were in: being VERY big, having only one album under their belts, and about to release one of the most anticipated albums of the year (yes, quite literally true for all of the bands I just listed).

Like I said before, The Contortionist are getting more experimental and progressive with each release. The reason I say that is because the content of this album is so fucking complex that it’s taken me a little over a month to fully be able to swallow and dissect it all. Yes, that’s the magnitude of the complexity this record contains. Although I’m a major fan of progressive music (metal, rock, industrial, etc.), even this was too much for me at first. When it comes to progressive DEATH metal, my favorites tend to be Opeth (well, duh, they’re my favorite band EVER), Augury, Fallujah, Augury, and Between the Buried and Me. Some of those (especially Augury and Between the Buried and Me) have a VERY high amount of complexity to their music. But really, The Contortionist really takes the cake with Intrinsic by not only being the most experimental and complex album of the year, but being the most experimental death metal album since Iwrestledabearonce released It’s All Happening in 2009.

I’ve gotten to the point to where the word “deathcore” doesn’t fit anywhere in The Contortionist’s music; they seemed to have completely stepped away from that obvious phase in their career in one of the smoothest and most graceful manners possible. It’s almost as if they already had this all planned out. They knew that they didn’t want to play deathcore; they wanted to CREATE, they wanted to INVENT, they wanted to ADD something to this! So they created a deathcore album with an extremely progressive Opeth-like sound to start the drift away without upsetting any of their fans. Now that they’ve gotten the “progressive” aspect buried within every element of their music, they were set to do what they’ve apparently always wanted to do, which is laid out in Intrinsic. But then again, this is all just critical thinking on my part, I don’t know for sure if any of this is fact; but I sure as hell wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest bit if it was!

The only negative thoughts that I have towards this album is the difficulty to describe its sound without simply saying “just listen to it, that’s how it fucking sounds”. For me, after the utterly atmospheric intro track, the action TRULY starts with Feedback Loop, which is a song that can only be described with phrases like “fucking weird”, “um…ok…I don’t know what I just heard…but I love it” and “what was THAT??”. When those weird keyboards kicked in after the song started, I had to start the whole song over due to not only my surprise, but the chaotic confusion all of the…I don’t know what to call it…all of the “stuff” that went on caused within my mind. Usually, in progressive albums like this, I can point out some pieces that were obviously inspired. For example, I’m ASSUMING that the use of the vocoder in Feedback Loop was inspired by The Faceless’ use of it in Planetary Duality, some of the guitar riffs remind me strongly of Periphery, and that the numerous acoustic guitars hidden in the background were POSSIBLY inspired by Opeth. But that’s pretty much it! There’s next to no other inspiration that I can hear, which means that most of this is coming from the minds of the members themselves. Progression made out of inspiration doesn’t last; progression made out of the minds of the creator(s) themselves changes music forever.

The singing obviously takes on a MUCH more prominent role in this album than before; which is probably because the singing is a hell of a lot better. Personally, I think that the growls and screams have decreased in quality since Exoplanet, which is possibly because they’re becoming less of a priority. Also, the melodic elements have COMPLETELY taken over the entity of the music. Along with the band getting more progressive with each release, I can also hear them getting more and more melodic with each record they put out. Because I’m someone that walks around listening to Katatonia’s newer albums wearing a Dying Fetus shirt, the fact that The Contortionist is getting more melodic isn’t a good or bad aspect for me in any way; it’s just change, nothing more and nothing less. The guitars don’t have a very crunchy distortion; in fact, they actually have a very generic clean extreme metal distortion that sounds perfect with everything around them. The drums sit in the background, but the kick drums stick out from everything else (which is probably the only remaining deathcore aspect in the band’s music).

Intrinsic is the single most progressive death metal record of 2012 and seems virtually impossible to surpass before the year comes to a close. I’ve said time and time again that 2012 is possibly the best year that the metal genre has ever seen; with Dying Fetus, Veil of Maya, Whitechapel, Nile, Periphery, Overkill, and countless others releasing perfectly-scored albums, Intrinsic is what I would say is one of the heavy metal HIGHLIGHTS of 2012. Although I don’t like this as much as others, I would give this one 18/20 for blowing me away with almost everything an album can blow me away with.

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desolate23 - 04 Juli 2014: Was the second name drop for Augury intentional or was it simply a mistake?
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Kommentar @ VesselsOfBlood

11 August 2012

Progressive Cosmic Punishment

Looks like The Contortionist’s inventive formula of progressive metal really has paid off. After the Indianapolis quintet formed in 2007, plenty of fans became interested in their first two EP’s, “Shapeshifter” in 2008, and “Apparition” in 2009. Soon after that, The Contortionist struck a deal with Good Fight Music, the current home of In Flames, The Chariot, and This Or The Apocalypse. That’s when they released their debut full-length album “Exoplanet” in 2010. Simply put, that was a great release. The quintet combined heavy-hitting death metal and deathcore elements, with spacey and euphoric sounds into one innovative and intriguing listen. It would be pretty hard for the band to top that record, considering how high they set the bar in that record. It even landed them a record contract with eOne Music, along with Darkest Hour, The Human Abstract, Crowbar, Straight Line Stitch, and other famed acts. However, it turns out that The Contortionist may have just achieved the almost impossible, with their second full-length album of 2012, “Intrinsic.”

The musicianship and sound production are both just spectacular in “Intrinsic.” However, some things have changed around in that regard compared to their previous works. First off, there is more clean singing in this album compared to the last, although there are still plenty of growls and roars throughout. This is actually a turn for the better, because this singing has a peaceful tone to it, and it adds to the ambient moments this record has to offer, particularly in the first track “Holomovement.” Secondly, the guitarists show much more complex prowess than they did in “Exoplanet.” There are more jazzed-up and melodic parts that the guitars demonstrate, and it emphasizes the spacey-prog side of The Contortionist’s music. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of moments where the guitars retain the pummeling deathcore edge that they had in the preceding albums. The drums have also become a tad more technical than they were before. Thankfully, it never goes to the point where they are so all over the place that it’s more overwhelmingly complicated than impressive. Finally, the synthesizer and effects are wonderfully used in “Intrinsic.” Mainly consisting of cosmic, atmospheric, and progressive twists, they simply serve as icing on the cake. Overall, the musicianship is brilliant in “Intrinsic.”

The Contortionist appears to be starting to lean more to the ambient side of progressive and experimental metal than they did before. Although there were plenty of hints of atmosphere in “Exoplanet,” “Intrinsic” is much more abundant in these throughout the record. They also have an incredibly science fiction feel to them. The album starts its intergalactic march with “Holomovement,” which has a very ethereal tone to it. As stated earlier, the clean singing thrives, and it adds to the song’s atmospheric mood even more. All of the tracks in “Intrinsic” have ambient moments, but the most ambient track of them all would be the album’s outro, “Parallel Trance.” The song is about three and a half minutes long, and it’s very entrancing. The listener would feel like he or she is traveling through the most outer regions of the galaxy, or is being lifted up through a heavenly cosmic journey to another dimension. The synthesizer and other spacey effects that play in this track are morphed into one beauteous, vast soundscape, and it’s highly capable of sending chills down one’s spine. This metal quintet has sacrificed a little bit of their destructive death metal and deathcore roots to make way for a more progressively euphoric and encompassing sound. In the end, it only works in their favor wonderfully.

For those who are worried that this band has lost their punishing death metal and deathcore edge, never fear. There is still plenty of that edge in “Intrinsic,” only not as much as the band’s preceding albums. The second-to-last track, “Solipsis,” is the best specimen of this album’s destructive side. It opens with an ominous synth intro, before the complex drum beat and vocoder kick in. Then it explodes into a really heavy deathcore track, loaded with lots of calculated punches to the listener’s face. The introduction to the fifth track, entitled “Geocentric Confusion,” also contains a technical yet destructive slab of progressive death metal, and even “Holomovement” has a brief moment of brutality about a minute into the song, before receding back to its progressive rock trance. As a result of all of this, fans of “Exoplanet” and their other two previous works should not be disappointed at all by this record, if they were into them for the progressive death metal and deathcore frenzies. In addition, this also proves that The Contortionist really has gotten much better at balancing on the thin line between progressive ambience and technical deathcore onslaughts.

Like they always were, The Contortionist’s lyrics still pertain to their same usual subjects of space, time, and scientific phenomena. However, even they have a new twist to them in “Intrinsic;” There seems to more of an emotional feel to them, but not to the point where they compare astral science with some dumb and whiny story of wanting to slit some guy’s ex-girlfriend’s throat. Instead, this emotion comes from the singer with many questions, analysis, and thoughts about our human existence, and these lyrics tie together with their usual scientific matters. One such example is “Geocentric Confusion,” where the vocalist has a quandary, with questions such as “What does this creator want from us? Would insignificant worship bring forth meaning?” The lyrics strongly yet eloquently question the characteristic of human belief in a higher and unseen force in order to increase one’s own self-confidence, and they are incredibly intriguing, if not well-written. “Holomovement” also conceals great lyrics within its spectacular music, and they deal with the flaws of society, brandishing lines including “How primitive are we still? Widen your peripheral; Socialized rules scale back the progression” and “Disregard direction; Our microstate feeds their energies.” As a whole, all of the lyrics in “Intrinsic” are as fresh, inventive, and intense as the music, and they are very well thought-out.

Intrinsic” is just stupendous. The Contortionist has officially progressed and topped itself after “Exoplanet,” and that truly is saying a lot. Everything is done right in this record. The musicianship is incredible, the production is very crisp, the balance between progressive and heavy has grown stronger, the music is technical without becoming overwhelming or incomprehensible, and the lyrics are stellar, if not interesting. There are ambient and destructive parts that intertwine together in “Intrinsic” seamlessly, and the end result is an incredibly well-made and simply outstanding album. This album is so diverse that fans from almost all over the metal and rock genre must try it out. Whether it be straight-up death metal from bands such as Meshuggah and Gojira or ambient and progressively spacey bands including Cynic or Opeth, to any fans of such groups, this album is definitely for you. The Contortionist has added yet another astral masterpiece to their collection.

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Crinn - 11 August 2012: This album is so fucking WEIRD!
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