The Contortionist have turned up the ‘progressive’ aspect in progressive metal on their sophomore release. While there are obviously still large amounts of punishing aggressive passages, the experimentation on offer is the most impressive aspect to the LP - from the jazzy middle section of opening track/first single “Holomovement” to the complex drumming and aggressive/gentle schizophrenia of “Cortical.”
One of the key elements of the release is Jonathan Carpenter’s vocals. His cleans take the centre stage many a time, while his keyboard and synthesizer work adds layers of color and texture to release, but fortunately never seems forced or contrived. With the production dream team of Jason Suecof and Eyal Levi behind the boards, Intrinsic is sonic perfection. Glassy clean guitars and space-out keyboards float across one another, while the heavier sections pack a crushing guitar tone and a faultless drum mix.
Every time things to seem to be really getting into a seriously heavy segment, a musical left-turn is taken by adding keyboards or a clean vocals passage. Just check out the beautifully lush and retro-sounding synths that are sprinkled over the top of the sharp-edged riffs on “Causality.” Of course whether this sonic experimentation The Contortionist has thrown themselves wholeheartedly into is a negative or positive aspect is really up to the listener. But to this reviewer’s ears it makes the young band really stick out from the pack in the best way possible.
While undeniably carrying some elements of the modern metal scene in their music, The Contortionist has made a huge and ultimately successful attempt to burst away from the pack and carve their own niche. Taking strong influence from progressive acts from across the past decades, and bringing it into the current era with a metal canvas, Intrinsic has all the potential to become a modern day experimental metal classic. It is not a record to put on while studying or in the car, but on a good stereo or set of headphones and really kick back and get immersed. It truly deserves your full attention, and so does this band.
(released July 17, 2012 on Good Fight Music)