When I began writing for A&GS, one of my first requests was Language, the newest album from THE CONTORTIONIST. And true to his word, The Maestro fulfilled said request. I was stoked to hear what the group would do after their lineup changes over the past year. For those not in the know, the band acquired Mike Lessard and Jordan Eberhardt from LAST CHANCE TO REASON and SCALE THE SUMMIT, respectively. Further, they have also added a full-time keyboard player in Eric Guenther. With such a large degree of alteration to the group, it’s natural to fear big changes in the sound that fans have grown to adore. In this case, the changes were for the better, and have helped the group to mature in a way that projects a completely organic feel; all of this will be on display when the record hits stores September 16 through eOne/Good Fight Music.
As previously stated, this is a change in the sound that was heard on previous releases. Where Exoplanet kept things heavy by allowing the guitars to lead and Intrinsic dabbled in layers and atmospheres, Language focuses on creating soundscapes through use of the entire ensemble. Each instrument plays the part that is needed, instead of looking for their moment to shine; this provides a natural pulse, allowing each song to breathe and take on an individual life of their own. However, if I were to pick an element that stands out the most it would be the vocals. Lessard’s writing and delivery are flawless, especially the sense of melody, flow and soul presented in his clean sections; a welcomed development, as I always considered the sung portions from their prior frontman to lack melodic depth, instead appearing more like ominous tones. The album opener “The Source”, “Language I: Intuition”, “Primordial Sound”, “Ebb and Flow”, and “The Parable” are some of the best examples.
As I blather on about the cleaner events, let me take the opportunity to say that there are plenty of heavy moments for those looking to get their mosh going. “Language II: Conspire”, “Integration”, and “Arise” feature areas that are heavier in that traditional sense, whereas “Thrive”, “Ebb and Flow” and “The Parable” carry massive weight with the reaction they will inspire in the listener.
Through all of this, I have forgotten to mention that this is a concept piece. Each song references portions of its kin through lyrics and melodic passages. However, the approach differs from that scene by many of their progressively-minded counterparts in that this concept doesn’t play out as a narrative, moreover, it references thoughts and imagery in an abstract manner.
In closing, the overall package is an absolutely gorgeous piece of progressive metal. Language takes THE CONTORTIONIST to the pinnacle of their creativity, presenting a group that has moved from their djent-fueled past to a band whose sound that is purely their own. Every piece is amazing, in its own right, yet builds so well upon the next. Each song intertwines and holds its own identity among the crowd. Ultimately, it is easy to say that this record is perfection. It will easily be within my top three releases of 2014, and it needs to be a part of your collection.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM
WRITTEN BY FRENCH CHEESE