Review Summary: Why is there a breakdown here? because it's here, roll the bones.
The progressive deathcore band on everyone’s radar is back once again with their brand new album Intrinsic. Although tagged as deathcore this band avidly steers far away from being satisfied with ‘cheerio’ tabs found all too often within the genre. Contortionist takes ambient, soft sections and blends them with the heaviness of deathcore to create a contrasting but convincing atmosphere. Deathcore however is a very limiting genre to stick with especially if you want to be an experimental band due its narrowly defined sound. With a will to experiment further Contortionist make the decision to drop much of their deathcore roots on their 2nd full length album in exchange for a much more progressive sound as a result.
The structure is much more ambient this time around with synthesizers and soaring guitar melodies playing a key role in the band’s sound. Often haunting synthesizers forward the sound with all sorts of ominous keys as the instrumentation creeps up slowly behind it. The rest of the band sits low and slowly builds up utilizing a glitchy sort of guitar playing that works quite nicely alongside the paranoid synthesizers. All this swaying makes the soundscape feel quite large as if something big is about to happen. That anticipation however really hurts Intrinsic because those sweet crescendo cravings are never satisfied.
Progressive, Cynic influenced metal with some tough as nails deathcore influence may sound good on paper but it doesn’t always work however. Crescendos play a key role in the song writing of Intrinsic but are almost never pulled off with elegance. Your blood boils as the bouncing guitars swell and the paranoid synthesizers sound as if about to ignite. The build finally lets loose and all you get is some down tuned chugging. Sometimes the chugging has some sway to it as well. And all of the time the synth lingers on far too long and overstays its welcome especially in climaxes. During nearly every climax expect to hear some chugging and broken up laughable sounding synthesizers that not only are quite loud in the mix but take away all the intense impact it could have had. Contortionist seems great at building up crescendos but once they construct their glorious towers they have no idea what to do with them. Just to throw you for a loop every once in a while the buildup doesn’t lead to an uninspired breakdown. Rather part way through the buildup they decide to obliterate any momentum that once could have been said about the song and replace it with interludes or suddenly jump into other irrelevant sections that manage to spring up out of nowhere.
Granted some guitar leads are pretty nifty on this album and they know how to play but just not as a cohesive band. Too often the song writing becomes a random mess. Let’s take a look at an example such as ‘Sequential Vision’. Starts off with a moderately heavy, swaying melodic lead that builds up a bit, then completely loses momentum with some nauseating cleans while the riff from the beginning irrelevantly repeats beneath the grandiose adventures of Carpenter. Then you got yourself a breakdown, once that is over you feel the soundscape is working its way down. When what is this? Oh you sly dogs Contortionist. At around 2:40 just when you think a riff is going to start up they suddenly transition into a wonky piano sample then blast you with a breakdown again. Nothing built into this breakdown, or justified it, if anything an interlude would have fit quite soundly; it is there because it is there. Roll the bones.
Due to the jerky nature of Intrinsic’s drive it really hurts the atmosphere which is what the band is trying to put a lot of focus on. The swirling build ups work a lot of the time but it is inconsistent songwriting that plagues this album and holds it back from success. Over drawn passages, poor transitions and vocals all proverbially bitchslap some excellent leads and an ominous as well as technical atmosphere.