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Contortionist, The: Language

"Euphoric recall" occurs when a person only remembers the good feelings generated as the cause of an event instead of the negative feelings. A review of music that generates so many good feelings may seem to be greatly weighed towards the positive. Perhaps the reviewer will neglect to stay objective and point out any negative attributes of this music. I am willing to take that chance with The Contortionist's most recent recording entitled Language.

When original singer Jonathan Carpenter decided to amicably leave The Contortionist, I was surprised, but I believed that a new chapter was under way. Michael Lessard (Last Chance To Reason) was tapped to temporarily replace Carpenter to play a handful of live dates and would soon be welcomed as permanent member. I was already a LCTR fan and knew what Lessard was capable of so this announcement, at least for me, was exciting. News that Jamie King would produce the new music (Between the Buried and Me, White Arms of Athena) added more anticipation.

Guitarists Robby Baca and Cameron Maynard and drummer Joey Baca are all back and in prize-winning form. Original bass player Christopher Tilley has been replaced by former Scale the Summit bassist Jordan Eberhardt and Eric Guenther has joined the band on keyboards. Of note: all bass on Language was played by Robby. This note is important because I believe I can hear the bond between Joey and Robby; their syncopated rhythmic connection seems psychic.

How does the music sound? The non-traditional song structures which have been a staple of the Contortionist remain. The dynamic shifts from beautiful to brutal remain. A new feature is the thick brilliance of Lessard's harmony vocals. There are growls and there are cleans - both important to the Contortionist - but the hooks that erupt from anywhere, always in just the right place, make this a keep-on-repeat CD. In a few spots there are cleans layered with growls layered with harmonies (check out "Primordial Sound"); I can't speak highly enough of his performance.

A few bullet points:

Lyrical themes are quoted in different songs - One example is that "Ebb & Flow" is a lyric in both "Language I & II" The puzzle is part of the fun!

"Language II: Conspire" has the dissonance and brutality which "Language I: Intuition" was missing. I predict this will be a monster if played back-to-back in concert.

The numerous keyboard/synthesizer effects which have been part of The Contortionist's sound have a more thorough role on Language. Their enveloping qualities enhance the overall texture.

Language is a fantastic step forward in the evolution of The Contortionist. The production is flawless, the music is engaging, the lyrics are both esoteric and universal. It encapsulates both the personal and the communal qualities of progressive metal.

Track Listing
1. The Source 2:39
2. Language I: Intuition 5:24
3. Language II: Conspire 4:15
4. Integration 5:46
5. Thrive 6:04
6. Primordial Sound 6:28
7. Arise 3:58
8. Ebb & Flow 7:06
9. The Parable 7:05

Added: September 7th 2014
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2137
Language: english

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