The Summoned – Sessions

“Sessions is a concept album about a man who wakes up from a coma and is sent straight into a psychiatric hospital where he begins a series of tests against his will. In the process he meets a doctor who remains with him every step of the way. During these sessions, with the guidance of the doctor, he is transported into the outer reaches of his own mind to confront the insecurities and demons that plague him.”

Resembling the premise behind the new album from ferocious US technical metallers The Summoned is the listening experience of Sessions. The nine track exploration is a kaleidoscope of sound and technical craft which barely gives a moment for a breath within its often infernal tempest taking the listener into the darkest, deepest recesses of their psyche. It is a demanding and intensive journey across story and album but ultimately one seriously rewarding one.

Formed in 2007 and drawing on the inspiration of bands such as Death, Between The Buried And Me, Decapitated, The Faceless, Behemoth, The Dillinger Escape Plan and others, the Boston, Massachusetts hailing quartet pretty soon revealed their own individual character of sound. Since then they have relentlessly pushed theirs and in turn metal’s assumed boundaries to find a strain of uniqueness really having its head in the band’s latest encounter.  After the Harvest EP in their first year, the 2011 released debut album If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures garnered a wealth of critical acclaim, its success supported and followed by the band successfully undertaking a 23-day headline tour spanning the U.S. and Canada as well as being part of 2012 Summer Slaughter Tour with Cannibal Corpse, Between The Buried and Me, The Faceless and more. From the winter of 2013, The Summoned began working on their second album, entering the studio with long-time friend Evan Sammons of Last Chance To Reason to begin the recording process. The next three years were concentrated on the creation of Sessions, time and intensive attention showing all its qualities in a release even more enthralling as well as bolder and more accomplished, technically and emotionally, than its impressive predecessor.

Within seconds, opener The Pendulum Swing has the senses twisted and imagination askew, the guitars of Shaun Murphy and Jarred Sullivan spinning a web of disorientating metal aligned to post punk discordance as bass and drums grumble and impose their psychosis. Vocalist Stephen Thompson supported by the equally rawer tones of Murphy, is a venomous scourge, words and emotions a primal yet composed assault as blurry as precise in their invasively relentless suggestiveness.  The determined, unyielding nagging is a constant across sound and album, every aspect and texture a ruthless persistence in its moment within a just as eagerly evolving unpredictable tapestry.

The track is an absorbing, thrilling start; a rabid introduction but eclipsed in ferocity by the following Faradic. As the rhythms of drummer Sam Hang ravage the senses yet still manage to be an anthemic enticement, guitars dance provocatively and psychotically on the imagination. Flavours and styles proceed to flicker with enthusiastic dexterity and boldness across the song, jazzy and progressive turns colluding with extreme and technical metal tenacity as vocals flow with a toxic essence. As in the first and next up Fractal Patterns, there is a real virulence to everything too; an infectiousness veining every fury and creative twist with the third track a debilitating but equally magnetic carousel of sound and invention. Melodies spawn from ravenous hostility, deranged trespasses from atmospheric caresses; every second a cauldron of intrigue and harsh drama.

Through the possibly even more primal and savage The Grave Mistake and the dark climate of Built of Glass there is no lessening of the resolute examination of senses and imagination; both tracks a flight of startling adventure and striking craft with the first a spiral into disturbing calm from cyclonic agitation, and back again, while the second aligns melancholy and sonic savagery within its dramatic almost cinematic theatre.

Both Vertiginous with its whirling melodies and rotating spine of far more carnal strains and the unbridled ferocity of the equally multi-flavoured Primogenial Birth keep ears and imagination gripped and consumed, the latter at times as primal as it is in other moments elegant and jazzily bewitching. Again neither leave a second free for the body to relax or expectations to try and rear their head, Recollection similarly a storm of sonic transgression and off-kilter progressive enterprise which, as all tracks, really is impossible to truly represent in word and suggestion.

Closing up with the initially melodically charming, hope embraced Satori, the album is simply one uncompromisingly compelling proposition. Shadows soon crowd and invade the listener as the final track hits its creatively hungry stride; pretty much epitomising the whole of Sessions with its capricious yet intensely woven and nurtured web.

Certainly Sessions is an imposing listen to match its presence and hard to take all in over a few let alone a single listen but rewards with every quest taken. Equally at times due to Thompson’s fine but exacting raw delivery lyrically the album shares moments lyrically which remain a mystery in the tale but are potently compensated by the clear emotion of the sounds and his presence; in saying that though a thicker use of the clean touches provided by Murphy within both Fractal Patterns and Built of Glass would make for another intriguing dynamic ahead. Nothing though defuses the potency and pleasure of sharing time with the album, or the calm to contemplate after its outstanding tempest.

Sessions is out now @ http://store.thesummoned.com/album/sessions

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Pete RingMaster 21/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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