Review Summary: This is one of the best Technical Deathcore albums, and watch out haters, I'll tell you why...
There are many fans of this band that hate on this album due to the fact that this is not a Prog Metal album and that the Deathcore elements made it awful, but what if I told you that this is one of the best Technical Deathcore albums?
First, we have to start from the base that this is only the second EP released by this band, and second, you have to understand that this is a DEATHCORE album, NOT a Prog album, NOT a Metalcore album, but a Deathcore one.
Many critisice Deathcore and see it as an insult for a band to be considered as part of the genre, however it is a genre that has to be considered, as many bands belong to it. Continuing with The Contortionist, they weren't a Prog band in those days, instead they were part of the underground Deathcore scene, playing in unknown clubs and becoming more known slowly. They didn't have Progressive Metal as a main genre, the only Prog element that could be considered is the use of sinthesizers and the song structure a little bit. So you will say “of course, it's one of the worst Prog albums, and it only has breakdowns and annoying pig squeals”. But what happens if we analyse it from the Deathcore point of view?
As a Deathcore album, it has very strong breakdowns, fast low tuned guitar, complex drums, low bass-line and a vocalist using gutturals, screams and pig squeals. It is a Deathcore masterpiece! It has everything a Deathcore album should have, adding the Technical stuff and the clean vocals... Let's just say Deathcore fans didn't like that very much. However, it is the nexus between the Progressive era and the Deathcore era of this band, using elements from both worlds.
I must admit the lyrics are a bit dull, but it's a Deathcore album in the end, and I'm not looking down on the genre, but it's rare to find deep Deathcore lyrics.
Now to the songs:
The album begins with "Intro", that as the name implies is a short introduction to the song "Shapeshifter". The intro is a 20 seconds distorted guitar riff in company of slow drums that gets you into a feeling of calm with a slight dark aura.
Then comes "Shapeshifter" that begins heavy, has dissonant riffs and has many changes in tempo, and not only breakdowns and screams, there is also a part where everything gets calm and kind of sad. In this moment there is clean singing for a while, until screams break that atmosphere and replace it with a heavy ending, very similar to the first parts of the song.
After "Shapeshifter" comes the heaviest song of the whole album, "Invalidation Waves", starting right off with guitar slides, double pedal, dissonant sweeps and low pigscreams. After that comes a riff based on screaming and palm muted guitars, heavy and followed by pig squeals and tempo change. Once that short breakdown ends comes a part where the synth takes the lead and creates a different atmosphere, like nostalgia, that is shortly broken when the rest of the band joins powerful with long duration screams. The rest of the song is heavy and very similar to the main riffs before.
The next song is "Sporadic Movements", and is the only song that was remastered from the EP with the same title. As the rest, is heavy, but has many unexpected things, such as the dissonant clean guitar that ends that heavy atmosphere, but is ended with slides and a chromatic based riff. Then comes a breakdown with pig squeals, followed by a computer-like sound that begins a faster riff with a bending guitar in the end. Then the lyrics from the beginning repeat, but this time sung with a punk-like voice. Thus is the only song that has a guitar solo, not a great solo I have to say, and after it comes a final part that returns to the main structure.
Once finished "Sporadic Movements" starts "Sleep Mode", where the bass does a fast intro and the guitar does dissonant chords with slides. There's not a main riff, as the song constantly changes, but it's very similar to the other ones, but this one has a long clean part, first with distorted guitars, and then clean ones with low-speed drums, while is heard -this is my promise- in clean vocals and are ended with that line screaming. The song ends heavy with gutturals and pig squeals.
The final song is "Non-Manual Dexterity", and starts with a sliding heavy guitar and a whammed dissonant chord. In the middle of the riffing there are parts where the bass or the guitar slide down, what sounds funny and is very unexpected. Then pig squeals and breakdowns appear, and are followed by a synth appearing and disappearing. The first part of the song ends with long and low pigscreams. Here comes something interesting, a beautiful interlude (the original version of the one heard in "Eyes: Closed" and "Flourish") starts and the singer sings in a sad mood, yet keeping the melody and ends it with a harsh scream and saying "days off". The song changes to the heavy structure and ends slowly with pig squeals and a final breakdown.
Despite the songs having a similar structure, each one of them have something to offer, they aren't as predictable as most Deathcore songs and they show technical features (still not enough to be Progressive though). It's recommendable to listen to the full album with no exceptions.
So having all that said: that's why this is one of the best Technical Deathcore albums to have been ever made, even if it's rare, it's undeniable to say that the mixture between these two genres (Prog and Deathcore) was completely successful.