The Contortionist
Language


4.2
excellent

Review

by Jade EMERITUS
September 13th, 2014 | 866 replies


Release Date: 09/16/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Time is moving forward.

For The Contortionist, it’s high time for a fresh start. Ever since vocalist Michael Lessard withdrew from Last Chance to Reason last year to make waves with the Indianapolis-based group, The Contortionist have amped up excitement for their new release at every chance they've gotten- giving the impression that this thing would be the best. They've probably trademarked the term 'Facebook hype' by now, posting updates about every significant step of Language’s recording process. (Sure, some of it probably could be considered insignificant too, but we fans all ate it up nonetheless.) So now that the album finally exists in some tangible form, it's easy to understand why The Contortionist believes in this record. It's big in a way that these guys wear well- not only does Language make amends for the transgressions of 2012’s Intrinsic, but it builds on the distinct sound that the band has solidified through its last two releases.

Many of the adjustments The Contortionist have made to their music are incremental, but other attributes are obvious from the get-go. Even someone who’s only faintly familiar with the band’s past works is bound to immediately notice how lush Language sounds in comparison. Each and every sound on this record is utilized to its fullest capability, and this makes the final production mix that much more arresting at the end of the day. The Contortionist seem to have caught producer Jamie King at his peak, for the difference he’s made here is monumental: “Thrive” just wouldn’t be the same without those layers of keyboard to accentuate the verses, and no song wears those weighty, incisive drums better than “Primordial Sound”. But underneath King’s glossy sheen of sound lies a familiar band doing what they know best- it’s just that this time around, The Contortionist sound as huge on record as they do live. For anyone who’s witnessed the band’s verve onstage, that’s saying something.

Dig a little deeper into the record, and you’ll find a refreshing sense of subtlety. The Contortionist understand they’re best at rhythmically rooted progressive metal, and at music that exists in this world while looking for inspiration on others. Space, in all its vastness- it's the chief theme The Contortionist have sported ever since their inception. Such a motif hardly seems novel at this point in the modern metal world, which means that with it comes a prerequisite of thematic nuance. Michael Lessard's narrative throughout Language is lofty, yes, but also feels surprisingly intimate- the band’s new vocalist has a knack for weaving otherworldly motifs into a blanket of remarkably relatable thoughts. Single "Primordial Sound" is perhaps the most conceptually heavy-handed piece on the record, and yet it breezes by like a trade wind across the sea. Subtlety has never quite been an accurate descriptor of The Contortionist's sound, but its use is more apt here than ever before.

But you’d better believe Language still finds ways to be over-extravagant. Note the ninety-second introduction of “Integration”, so rife with perplexingly obtuse riffs that it feels pulled straight out of Intrinsic's playbook. It all feels so arbitrary, as if The Contortionist could've used any random sequence of chords and gotten the same point across. And that title track, it might even be more confusing. Two-parters in concept albums always at least hold the promise of some sort of congruity, because you know those two songs will be connected in some vital way. So when “Language II: Conspire” rolls in with no immediately visible connection to the song before it, except that they’re the same tempo, it is the most confusing thing. “Conspire” is a chugfest of a tune, and it’s comprised of the most undemanding “heavy” elements The Contortionist could’ve possibly utilized. Sure, the group eventually returns to the main melodic hook of the duo, but it’s such a curiously tenuous connection that’s established. “Conspire” is a delightfully simple conclusion to “Language” overall, while also being a wildly inadequate follow-up to the giant “Language I: Intuition”- but there’s something beautiful about the anticlimax nonetheless. Forget what I wanted to hear- these guys have no reservations writing a groovy song whenever the hell they want to. They call the shots, and I wait to see what happens next- that’s just how it goes.




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user ratings (823)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
cmaitland421 (3.5)
A tale of two albums....

Djentftw (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jade
Emeritus
September 12th 2014


10698 Comments


I was considering quoting "Primordial Self" for the review summary

yeah. yeah. YEAH

climactic
September 12th 2014


22300 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

you would.



good review. im not the biggest fan of this album as a whole but it has its moments. exo4lyfe

Jade
Emeritus
September 12th 2014


10698 Comments


thanks duuude! this is one of those albums i decided i would love a long time ago, so i've been having a blast with it. i would've enjoyed it massively even if that hadn't been the case, but mmm. i also just super have a soft spot for these guys, and they do this sound so well.

beefshoes
September 12th 2014


6886 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah. When it's good, it's fantastic.

There are some weaker moments for sure (the djent sections mainly).

Digging: Ne Obliviscaris - Urn

Jade
Emeritus
September 12th 2014


10698 Comments


I find that some of the heavier sections later in the record feel a bit out of place, but that's probably it for me. Like I said in the review, there are things about Conspire that are pretty EHH but it still strikes me as a really fun tune on the whole.

Also, I couldn't find a chance to talk about how great of a song "Thrive" is. Best tune they've ever done.

Brometheus
September 12th 2014


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I am just loving this album



Chill bunnin jams ahrd

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2014


6363 Comments


"You’d better believe Language still finds ways to be over-extravagant- just listen"
Needs a period..?

Jade
Emeritus
September 12th 2014


10698 Comments


Y'know, I don't think a period is needed there but I may just add one anyway. Thanks for the heads-up

beefshoes
September 12th 2014


6886 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

That was the track that I was thinking of.

I agree. Both Thrive and Primordial Sound are incredible tracks.

cmaitland421
September 12th 2014


407 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. I was underwhelmed by the singles, but I'll still check it out.

Jade
Emeritus
September 12th 2014


10698 Comments


Agreed. The midsection of this thing is killer.

Aww, I get sentimental when I think about the time I reviewed Intrinsic.

Edit: thanks a lot, man! If you didn't get a lot out of the singles, this album may not be for you. I say that because
it has little cohesive flow that may add value to those singles for you, but only one way to find out, right?

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice writeup, Jacob! Definitely gonna give this a spin soon.

Jade
Emeritus
September 12th 2014


10698 Comments


Thanks bud! You heard these guys' other albums before?

bloc
September 12th 2014


44263 Comments


Is it just me or is this boring as fuck wow

Digging: Beastmilk - Climax

Jade
Emeritus
September 12th 2014


10698 Comments


Yeah man, doesn't seem like your kinda thing

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
September 12th 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Unfortunately, no. I respect Exoplanet for its influence on the genre, but I can't call myself a fan. Perhaps I oughta start there.

bloc
September 12th 2014


44263 Comments


I really liked Exoplanet though

All the songs on this sound the same

Jade
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


10698 Comments


Well Explosive, you may find this album to be more your speed in terms of style.

And Bloc, I'd recommend starting off by listening to "Thrive" and "Primordial Sound" a few times. The album can feel a little homogeneous all at once, but being able to pick those particular songs out helps to make the album more digestible.

bloc
September 13th 2014


44263 Comments


I guess. I still think Intuition is great though

Jade
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


10698 Comments


I won't ever get tired of Intuition it's so great



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