The Contortionist
Clairvoyant


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ben Kuettel STAFF
September 15th, 2017 | 223 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Contortionist complete their gradual ascension to being a progressive rock band, with catchier choruses, synths galore, and the consistent use of beautiful guitar melodies and harmonies.

The Contortionist have followed a fascinating trajectory since their inception. With each album cycle the band have been gradually exorcising out the aggressive metal styles they began playing, instead lending more emphasis to spacier textures. Each album embodied a connector to the others, being comprised of complex heavy metal guitar playing and busy rhythms. The instrumental prowess brought to mind the likes of Dream Theater, latter day Isis, and Cynic. With Clairvoyant, the metal tendencies primarily function to lend an epic, punchy sound to each song, especially in choruses. The music itself is more accessible and darker than the highly praised predecessor, Language.

The Contortionist complete their gradual ascension to being a progressive rock band, with catchier choruses, synths galore, and the consistent use of beautiful guitar melodies and harmonies. Certain moments here and there are even more reminiscent of post-rock than progressive rock or metal, particularly the gorgeous second half of album opener “Monochrome (Passive).” While the band members still play impressively, their instrumental playing has been simplified. Big sounding choruses with almost groove metal rhythms bring to mind a band like TesseracT, particularly songs like “Godspeed,” “Reimagined,” and “Return to Earth.” Tremolo picking guitars in the background accompany light synths, lending an airiness to the otherwise heavy, massive choruses that make up much of Clairvoyant. With a nearly hour-long runtime, this formula can get tiresome when some tracks have flashier qualities than others. In essence, The Contortionist are at their best when they layer guitars and electronics into atmospheric, soaring melodies. These moments spring up frequently, but occasionally sound familiar and reside a bit too often in the background.

The most rewarding aspects of Clairvoyant occur when the band let inhibitions and accessibility go out the window, like in album closer “Monochrome (Pensive)”. These highlights usually come up in the longer songs, during the instrumental passages. The title track changes colors impressively, as it begins with a heavier sound but gracefully develops into its uplifting, heavenly second half. Album centerpiece “The Center” follows, with fantastic vocal layering and musical transitions that allow for the band’s best compositional decisions to shine through. A main guitar melody, giving the song a dark feeling overall, is interspersed with different sounding verses at each repetition, subverting the more traditional song structures that make up the shorter tracks.

The briefer cuts could almost be played on mainstream rock radio, and brings up a parallel with how the aforementioned TesseracT has embraced more accessible, lighter sounds as well. Language foreshadowed this change for The Contortionist, and the softer direction is the right one for the band to take. However the more straightforward course is one that wouldn’t quite hold up over 55 minutes if there weren’t enough dazzling, transportive musical passages to keep it engaging. Fortunately, Clairvoyant contains enough of these qualities to keep it consistently excellent all the way through. Even the mainstream songs are able to surprise, with something like a beautiful piano playing section, found in “Relapse.” The Contortionist are evolving in rewarding fashion, and will continue to thrive due to a strong sense of melody, experimentation, and atmosphere that is always present, no matter what musical direction they pursue.



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user ratings (209)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
TundraL5Z (4.5)
The Contortionist tone down on their heavier side and let their intrinsic and atmospheric side go wi...

ajcollins15 (4.5)
Ambient, deep, and energetic new record from the Indianapolis band!...


Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2017


16512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Reimagined" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJu3-qGap_k



"Absolve" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOVyJmNQxmU



"Return To Earth" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAfAxmhWmcQ

Digging: Toby Driver - Live at Roulette, March 2017

Nomos
September 15th 2017


1465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review man! Loving this album so far.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2017


16512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks. This grew on me a lot, it's a dense listen.

Toondude10
September 15th 2017


11442 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Digging: Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence

TundraL5Z
September 15th 2017


326 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Interesting comparing this to my review haha, great review brotha'

Digging: Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence

HarryBoBerry
September 15th 2017


424 Comments


This is gonna be a massive grower. Very well done review.

Nomos
September 15th 2017


1465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah it's certainly a grower. You need to be in the right head-space to listen, to focus and take it all in with a sound system or headphones to do the mixing and mastering justice. But I'm loving it right off the bat and discovering new details each listen. Can't wait for my LP to come in within the next few days.

tacos N stuff
September 15th 2017


2672 Comments


these guys really like their circular album covers

AlexTM510
September 15th 2017


1450 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Solid review. It's interesting that people are saying this is a grower, because this clicked for me right away and continues to get better with each listen so far.

0GuyMan0
September 16th 2017


868 Comments


I've decided this band writes amazing music, but they do not write good songs.

Dctarga
September 16th 2017


1083 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How so? Like the actual music is good but you don't feel like it makes for a solid, cohesive song?



Haven't jammed this yet, will be doing that tomorrow after work

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2017


55301 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Very sceptical about this but I will check

Digging: Khmer - Larga Sombra

Dctarga
September 16th 2017


1083 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah the singles left me a little luke-warm, so I'm kind of nervous myself

Piripichotes
September 16th 2017


386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

vocals are so flat... this guy can sing, and I'm NOT talking about his screams.

Digging: Enslaved - E

Flugmorph
September 16th 2017


17309 Comments


lol this band

Digging: Enter Shikari - The Spark

RustCohle
September 16th 2017


192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very nice review, the vibe of this album is awesome.

Digging: Amenra - Mass VI

KILL
September 16th 2017


80846 Comments


this band can do no wrong

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2017


16512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks for the kind words guys



You dig Language Kill? You might like this if so

Drummerboy123
September 16th 2017


2990 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think KILL is being sarcastic, he hates modern prog metal.



Current AOTY for me right now.

Digging: Carbon Based Lifeforms - Derelicts

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2017


16512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I figured that he was being sarcastic but wondered if he liked anything off Language, since it's their most respected, and best.



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