What do you do when you’re weeks away from releasing your debut album, a freshly departed front man, and have a half finished album without vocals? You man the fuck up. That is exactly what Indianapolis-based band, The Contortionist, did. With two self-released EP’s, Good-Fight Music finally took notice of the band, signed them and sent them to the studio. A few months and one new vocalist later, The Contortionist emerge with an epic that is Exoplanet.
The Contortionist is, for lack of a better term, “Progessive-Experimental-Deathcore,” or as some people at MetalSucks are dubbing them, “Sumeriancore.” Down-tuned riffage that, as their MySpace proclaims is, “strong enough to shake the core of the earth” combined with techy noodling and atmospheric elements give The Contortionist everything they need to make a solid record. Clocking in at just under 50 minutes, Exoplanet packs a powerful punch of brutality and finesse, expertly executed with every note.
If you’re familiar with The Contortionist’s older work, then you will find some similarities on Exoplanet. There are a few songs that are the same songs with different vocals on their EP Apparition, (of which are “Oscillator,” “Flourish,” and “Advent”). Now, before you get all hot and bothered over them ‘rehashing’ songs, get over it. It’s totally understandable; bands do this all the time, at least these songs are solid. New lyricist and vocalist, Jonathan, explains the new vocals on old songs. “I had a month to rewrite an entire album, and then two and a half days to record it. The only way that I as a musician could approach a full-time music endeavor, was to write the material to fit my sound and style.” That being said, the new “old” songs are fantastic. Jonathan does a great job of making the songs his own without distracting you from the music that you already love.
The Contortionist succeeds where so many bands fail. Many bands take on the challenge of incorporating a wide variety of sounds and influences. While many miss the mark, creating songs that sound more like chopped up versions of different songs sewn together, this is not the case with Exoplanet. The Contortionist is able to combine technicality, brutality, melody, and emotion seamlessly into one song. This is definitely a band who is sure of what they are doing and what sound they are trying to achieve. They can easily be compared to an early Between The Buried And Me, while maybe not being as experimental.
Instrumental interludes and electronics are used throughout the album without feeling gimmicky. My favorite songs on the album are the “Exoplanet” songs (“I:Egress,” “II:Void,” and “III:Light”). These songs are a perfect representative of the band’s strengths. Melody is the key when combining the chaos and sophistication that these songs posses, and The Contortionist seem to understand exactly how to utilize it.
I’ve been looking forward to this release ever since I discovered their EP, Shapeshifter, a few years back. So, I admit, this may not be the most unbiased review, but frankly I don’t care. I think this band is solid and hope they get all the success they deserve. Check them out; give Exoplanet the listen it deserves. Let the music shape your opinion of the album, not my words. Whether your a fan or not, give it a try and make sure to catch The Contortionist on tour this fall.