“Primal Directive” the crushing intro to 2010’s Exoplanet, flushed with growls and clean vocals atop heavy guitar work, “Holomovement” the prog inspired intro to 2012’s Intrinsic, still shows signs of ferociousness, but blended with a more progressive attitude. “The Source”, intro to 2014’s Language, is nothing more than a piano, lush guitar and some atmospheric crooning. Serving as the various intros to The Contortionist‘s albums, these songs are perfect representations of what you should be expecting. Exoplanet is heavy and atmospheric, Intrinsic is proggy with an edge, and Language is simple and beautiful.
Fans of the bands debut may not be sold on Language, as much of the time previously spent on breakdowns has evolved into more post-rock and prog-metal noodlings. By no means is this a bad thing. In fact, they have massively improved these sections from 2012’s Intrinsic. But, part of what made The Contortionist so great was the graceful mesh of heavy and light, breakdowns and atmosphere – something that is nearly non-existent on the new record. Yes, those heavy sections exist, but can’t compete with anything on the previous records.
Comparisons are easily made between Between The Buried and Me, and Cynic. However, The Contortionist makes their mark with solid rhythm guitar and keyboard. Mike Lessard is easily the best vocalist the band has ever worked with, and it shows. This is a softer, more calculated, more “emotional” Contortionist and Lessard is absolutely key in that.
This album, in my opinion, is the definition of a grower. The more you listen to it, the more you “get” it. It is a bit slow, a bit self-indulgent, and, just maybe, a bit too ambitious. But, the more spins it gets, the more you begin to understand the “language” (heh) of the album. There is something great going on within this record. Individually, none of the songs are exceptional (Except maybe: “Language I” and “Language II”, courting them as one), but as a whole, form an exceptional composition.
Language is a hauntingly beautiful record that lacks the “edge” that that helped make previous efforts great. On its own, back catalog excluded, Language is one of the best records of the year but I won’t be surprised if long-time Contortionist fans don’t enjoy it.
Simply, get this record and listen to it until your ears hurt.
Progressive Metal | Good Fight Records