Review Summary: The Contortionist craft an enticing heap of progressive goodness juxtaposed with brilliantly crushing heaviness.
The Contortionist created quite a buzz when they released their debut full length Exoplanet
a couple years ago. It had all the slightly bothersome elements of the beloved genre of deathcore, but there were flourishes of absolute brilliance thrown in. "Flourish" and "Oscillator" were perhaps the most outstanding tracks, showcasing the group's ability to juxtapose ambient passages and astounding buildups with the crushing downtuned heaviness that is a trademark of the deathcore genre. Exoplanet
showed a young group that had enormous amounts of potential to become much more than just another core band.
They solidify this on their sophomore effort Intrinsic
. All the core elements that held Exoplanet
back are toned down greatly here, and are used for crushing effect rather than a crutch to lean on. Instead of being the primary presence in their music, the core elements take second place to ambient and spacey passages. Lead single "Holomovement" emphasized the atmospheric moments and only contains about 20 seconds of the chugging deathcore moments that were so prevalent on their debut. Album closer "Parallel Trance" further utilizes the spacey feel by being entirely void of heaviness and instead containing just atmosphere.
isn't all just spacey atmosphere. "Solipsis" is perhaps the most Exoplanet
-like track presented here, as it launches into a furious combo of chugs and breakdowns after an ambient opening. The first half of "Causality" is very similar to the aforementioned track, only more fleshed out with the ambient sections dominating the end of the song instead. The main difference between Intrinsic
and the debut is that the heavy moments are more tastefully done, and don't overstay their welcome. The album doesn't fall into chugging monotony like Exoplanet
does as the album progresses.
However, there is one issue holding this album back: Coherency
. Yes, the atmospheres are entrancing, the slabs of brutality are intense, but the album just doesn't flow as well as it could. Sometimes, the ideas shown here just feel like they were sort of thrown together without much consideration for the flow of the record. For example, a few of the transitions from ambient passage to heavy passage feel awkward and sudden. It seems like a bit of a hypocritical judgement coming from an avid fan of Between the Buried and Me, but their music is supposed
to be spastic like that, and it works for them. But for the Contortionist, they would be better served to focus on a coherent, well-flowing album.
When all is said and done, The Contortionist have shown that they can break free of the deathcore stereotypes and create an enticing slab of progressive goodness. While the album still has its flaws, it proves that this relatively young group is capable of doing great things. After such a drastic shift in styles from debut to sophomore effort, one can only wonder what they have in store for us next.