Review Summary: Incredibly unique and sadly forgotten death-grind from the Czech Republic
Grindcore is one of the most straightforward metal genres. The songs are often times under two minutes in length, the drumming is mainly blast beats, and there is often little to no melody, leaving only aggression. So when a grind band changes up that formula, it makes it even more special. Contrastic is one of the bands who change it up, and their self-titled album is their opus. Featuring everything from piano to techno music, Contrastic
is an album full of surprises.
The interesting thing about Contrastic is that the album may be grindcore, but it goes about creating that sound in experimental and unusual ways by integrating many different unconventional instruments and other music genres that, at first glance, would seem out of place on a grind record . Take “Chopins Ulcerous Colic” as an example. This song has a pervasive use of piano played in just such a way that it conveys a sense of madness rather than the melody and beauty that the instrument is typically known for. Despite the strange choice, the piano fits with the rest of the chaos of the album surrounding it. The cacophony of sounds created manage to not only work as death-grind, but excel at it. The instruments feed off each others eccentricity throughout the duration of the album. Another example can be seen in the song “Vocalic System from the Perspective of a Social Distinctiveness” where there is frequent use of synthesizer to add to the intensity of the song. The use of synthesizer gives this track an almost psychedelic feel at parts and completely changes the style from punishing grind one second, to something entirely different the next. Another aspect that’s worth mentioning is the use of cowbell. By using cowbell in multiple songs along with ridiculous song titles and artwork, Contrastic let’s listeners know that this album isn’t entirely serious.
Not only are the instruments varied, but the vocals have many variations. The two most common styles are a deep death growl and a raspy screech. Some of the supplements to these two styles are gang shouts, raspy yells, and even the occasional spoken word part. With “Putti” credited as the sole vocalist, we have to assume that all these vocals were done entirely by him. Very rarely does a vocalist have such a range of styles used, and even less common are all the different styles used on a single album.
While not quite as astounding as the vocals, the guitars and bass on Contrastic
are unpredictable and fabulous in their own right. While the playing is like traditional grindcore at some sections, there are also times when it becomes much more melodic like on “Verschrottung durch Arbeit”. The bass sounds monstrous at times, like during the opening track. The playing is generally stuck at a fast tempo for the majority of the album, but there are some instances where it dips down in pace. For both instruments, the playing is tight and of high quality. Both guitarist “Polu” and bassist “U.B.I.N.A.” prove that they know their way around their instrument of choice.
Possibly the least interesting aspect of the album is the drumming. Performed by “Trisy”, the drums stick to blast beats and double bass drums when they're not backing up the stranger parts of Contrastic
. During these more experimental sections, the drumming sticks closer to traditional drum patterns rather than those found in extreme metal. While the drums aren’t particularly mind-boggling, this is most likely because Trisy was also the effects programmer for the album. Being that he had dual duty, he put forth a commendable effort on drums.
The production is possibly the only negative aspect of Contrastic
. It’s not particularly poor, it's just mediocre. When all the other aspects of the album are better, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. The guitars are distorted and it can be difficult to pick out what is being played at times. The production job on the drums and vocals is decent enough, just don’t expect Scott Burns quality. However, this is only a minor complaint as the album is exceedingly short, so there isn’t much time for the production to become grating or uncomfortable.
When I first discovered this album, I was blown away by how crazy it sounded. Even those that don’t like the harshness of grindcore may find that worth a listen thanks to it’s wide variation in style. Albums as unique as Contrastic
are in short supply and all prospective listeners should attempt a listen to this, even if just for the novelty of it.