The Contortionist – Language

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Formed in 2007, US progressive metallers The Contortionist have been no strangers to twisting the senses and psyche of fans with their unpredictable weaves and startling structures of sound and ideation. Previous albums in the shape of their startling 2010 debut Exoplanet and even more so the rigorously acclaimed Intrinsic two years later, took the metal scene by the scruff of the neck with their increasingly imposing and intricately technical tapestries. Now the Indianapolis sextet has unveiled their finest moment yet, the exhaustingly compelling Language.

The band’s first studio album with new vocalist Michael Lessard (Last Chance to Reason), who replaced Jonathan Carpenter when he left the band last year, Language spins a startling web which swiftly immerses ears and imagination from its opening seconds. Produced by Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me, He Is Legend, The Human Abstract), the album seduces from the first breath of The Source, Lessard instantly caressing the senses with his mesmeric tones as keys emerge elegantly around him. As the song grows, so does its captivation as impassioned melodies simultaneously soar across and intimately shape the aural narrative. It is a gorgeous seducing with Lessard exceptional, and right away matched by the distinctly different Language I: Intuition.

Guitars tenderly coax the imagination from the very start, their thought binding enterprise soon aided by flowing harmonies and subsequently an alluring throaty bass tone amidst a soak of expressive keys cast by Eric Guenther. Grumbles of raw vocals taunt in the background at times but the track ultimately glides imperiously over ears framed by the inventive beats of Joey Baca and resourcefully shadowed bass prowess of Jordan Eberhardt. The snarl and agitation within the song rises closer to the surface as the track moves towards Language II: Conspire, the guitars of Robby Baca and Cameron Maynard at times as predatory as they are enchanting. Its successor seamless steps from its embrace with a jagged bait of riffs and an increasingly predatory voice to the bass, coarse vocal growls also stepping forward from within the brewing maelstrom. The track proceeds to prowl and size up its recipient with death metal malevolence and caustically coated progressive imagination twisted into something uniquely exploratory and individual to the band.

Integration opens with a jazzy wind of keys which is emulated by the creative sculpting of guitar intrigue and swinging rhythmic temptation. As the mellow tones of Lessard flow there is a conflicting yet perfectly harmonious merger of LANGUAGE COVERantagonistic and entrancing climates, opposites uniting for a provocative emprise of sound and intent. Thoughts of Karnivool and Between The Buried And Me offer hints as does Cynic as the song twists and evolves with every incendiary note and impacting syllable but again it is merely spice to an ingenuity owned solely by the Indiana six-piece.

Both the spellbinding grace and beauty of Thrive and the following Primordial Sound enslave ears and thoughts, the first a scintillating journey through an evocative scenery of tenacious rhythms and smouldering drama crafted by a tempest of guitar invention and sonic passion. Basking in a simmering keys drawn atmosphere veined by vibrantly melodic flames, the track also involves a technically explosive turbulence which is as flirtatious as it is intimidating. It is the pinnacle of the album, a peak matched straight away by the second of the two songs. Primordial Sound opens on another exceptional vocal caress from Lessard, guitar and bass courting his radiant tones with their own dazzling voice and expression, all wrapped in a magnetic wash of keys. The song is sensational, another innovative and remarkably imaginative binding of light and shadows.

It is fair to say that Lessard brings a Deftones like air to parts of the album, and no more so than in Arise, his dulcet tones a smooth glaze over the song’s presence and theme. This is enhanced by the equally luscious sounds around him; that is until a bestial expulsion drives vocals into a rapacious metalcore like roar and riffs and hooks into a heavily barbed torrent of addictive persuasion. The track continues the established high plateau which is maintained by the cinematic theatre and haunting colour of Ebb & Flow. The keys of Guenther alone paint an engrossing canvas for the imagination to explore, one given richer impacting depth by the cinematic hues and shadows of guitar which in turn create a tempestuous threat of intensity and a temptation of skilled enterprise.

Its success is equalled by the spellbinding majesty of The Parable. The final song on the album is a thick blaze of sonic and technical ingenuity hugged by the ever refreshing vocal brilliance of Lessard and band. It is a swirling eddy of beauty, skill, and exploration within a kinetic incitement of rhythms and rousing intensity, a sensational flurry of invention which almost bewilders as it seduces.

With so much going on and to be explored, Language is not as instant a triumph as other releases but with focus and time emerges explosively rewarding and intensively exhilarating. As much as their previous albums were impressive, you can almost say that The Contortionist has come of age with their new offering, suggesting a new template for progressive metal to contemplate with its masterful presence.

Language is available from 16th September via eOne Music / Good Fight Music.

https://www.facebook.com/thecontortionist

RingMaster 16/09/2014

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Dearly Beloved – Enduro

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Hazily immersive and virulently seductive, not forgetting mouth-wateringly compelling, Enduro the new album from Canadian rock band Dearly Beloved is another unexpected treat for the year. You sense the dramatic presence and striking sounds of the release is not something new as their existing fans can surely confirm but as our introduction to the Toronto protagonists, the release comes as a potent and thrilling new adventure. Merging sultry essences of stoner and progressive rock with the creative voracity and enterprise of garage punk, Enduro is a glorious ride of sweltering textures and magnetic imagination wrapped in a scuzz kissed melodic vivacity which flirts contagiously from start to finish. It is a magnificent encounter and the start of a torrid union between the band and our passions, and a horde of many others we predict upon its uncaging.

Dearly Beloved is centred round guitarist/lyricist/vocalist Rob Higgins (ex- Change of Heart, Doctor and nephew of Rush’s Geddy Lee), and vocalist Niva Chow and from the release of their critically acclaimed third album Hawk vs. Pigeon, has been on a non-stop charge of shows, including tours with the likes of Julie Doiron, Cancer Bats, Wrong Guys, and Grimskunk as well as venturing into the UK and Europe with their renowned stage performances. Now with the successor to their previous triumph, the band is set to reap even greater success and rewards, hindsight showing that as impressive as the last album was its successor takes things to a new inventive height.

Recorded at the infamous Californian Rancho De La Luna studios (Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss), Enduro saw Higgins and Chow recruit Eamon McGrath as guitarist and co-writer for the 15-day creating and recording of the album. Also involved were Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene), Dave Catching (Eagles Of Death Metal), Chris Goss (Sound City Players) and Dave Elitch with its mixing undertaken by Adam Kasper (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). Apparently there were not even skeletons of songs prepared before the recording of the album but that obviously was in no way an issue such the sonic ingenuity which has evolved from the process. As soon as feedback soaks ears and a dulled yet intrusive resonance brews at the opening of the title track, intrigue is pricked and swiftly fed along with the imagination as rhythms roll in on rugged sinews, flames of sonic coaxing erupts, and the bass grumbles impatiently. It is a captivating start and one pushed to greater strength by the breath-taking vocal union of Higgins and Chow. Theirs is a rigorously captivating union, whether sparring or uniting in their delicious persuasion. Guitars have a mesmeric yet simultaneously raw air to their enterprise around them whilst the heavily swiping rhythms simply enslave an eager appetite for song and release. Like a rugged union of Mars Volta and Jane’s Addiction, the song is a wanton fire of craft and invention, a psychedelic seducing which is scintillating.

The following Olympics Of No Regard rides boldly in on another rhythmic enticement courted by potent hooks and grazing rubs of db COVERguitar. Its confident stroll continues unabated but still relaxes along the way for evocative shimmering surf rock twists and expressive stoner abrasing which are as unpredictable as they are engaging; a union constantly repeated across the whole album in the startlingly new characters and designs of songs, as next up Astor DuPont Payne. The track is sensational, from its initial tingling of guitar a riveting incitement which grows in presence and potency as acidic melodies entwine the senses, vocals breathe seduction with each syllable, and captivating grooves dance around thoughts like the flames on the opening credits of Tales of the Unexpected. The bass also is a tempting impossible to resist, its dark wiles a persistent shadow in an incredibly imaginative and creatively fascinating triumph. Psychedelic pop rock at its finest and most unique, the song is a new pinnacle in nothing but so far across the release.

Both the more voracious Not My Pig with its punk bred attitude and the aggressive Seven Plagues get feet and passions involved further, the first a song which stalks and abuses with a caustic toxicity across all musical fronts which is as bewitching as the ever impressing embracing vocals. The following song revels again in the punk part of the band’s heart, raging and brawling with rhythms and grooves but only within an invigorating pop tenacity and enticement which tempers and inspires equally the thrust of the track. Neither matches the heights already set but both inflame and feed ears and thoughts with full satisfaction. A sufficing pushed into gluttony with the brilliant The Guile Of Pricks and its instinctive rock ‘n’ roll. Garage punk meets psychedelic pop, the track is another raw yet fluid enveloping holding a Pixies experimentation and QOTSA stomping before making way for the desert smothered sounds of Between Finger & Thumb, where Perry Farrell and co again spring to mind in tandem with at times Melvins. Though not as instant as other tracks it is an evolving web of sound and ingenuity which steals a mighty share of the plaudits.

The smouldering beauty and melodic glances of All Sins Are Forgiven come next and simply leave passions in a pool of ardour, a mellow tempting which leads into incendiary imposing and provocative crescendos across its enthralling suasion. The song tantalises and mesmerises with intimate yet expansive radiance and reflection to cast another slice of creative alchemy into the album before the voracious canter of Run For Your Life decides to make its claim for best song honours. Pop punk with antagonistic devilry, the track is rock music as it should be; fiery, inventive, and ridiculously contagious.

Closing with the brief psychedelic and slightly psychotic smothering of Ether Binge, a song which drifts with melodic venom and seducing shadows, Enduro is instinctive brilliance. There are times where like the final track you feel songs are incomplete in some way or as they were created in short time, their ideation suggesting and unfulfilled body but it does not bring any sense of negativity to the sensational sculpting. In fact it adds to the loose and primal feel of the album, one though conjured through precise thought and unleashed imagination from all involved. Enduro is our introduction to Dearly Beloved giving us a two directional investigation of the immense band from here on in, must be our birthdays.

Enduro is out now on Aporia Records in Europe and eOne Music in Canada now!

http://www.dearlybelovedmusic.com/

9/10

RingMaster 10/06/2014

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