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Album Reviews : Contrive – The Meaning Unseen

By on June 8, 2009

The Meaning UnseenThe Meaning Unseen is the first official album from Melbourne progressive metal trio, Contrive. The band have been a vigilant force in the Australian heavy metal scene for well over 10 years now. Not only supporting great local talent, but also a plethora of international bands too.

The band are probably most “famous” for sporting one of  Australia’s most well known heavy metal deities, Andrew Haug.

Andrew Haug is mostly well known for his work on Full Metal Racket, a weekly metal radio station on Triple J.

My first impression of the album was a bit confusing at first. To be honest, I was expecting no more then 40 minutes of noise, yet was blown away with the level of diversity on the album after just hearing the first 15 minutes.

Each song carries a fresh new sound which sets it apart from the last. It really engages the listener to enjoy all aspects of music; rather then just one specific genre, more so from a heavy metal aspect.

I would like to point out though, that I don’t really consider “The Meaning Unseen” to be a metal album per-se. It maybe under the genre of metal, but when listening to this album for the first time, it comes apparent that it wasn’t Contrive’s intention to make a metal album in the first place. Sure, there are elements of metal music throughout, but I wouldn’t place a nice big metal stamp on the album just yet.

When listening to the album I was overcome with heavy influential elements that ranged from Sepultura, Machine Head, ToolDevin Townsend, and even something more close to home with a sound bearing resemblances to Sydney hard rock heavyweights Cog. The Haug brothers’ love for music has truly shined throughout the album and really depicts a great multilayered and diverse album.

The level of diversity is even taken to an instrumental level, where Andrew Haug expresses his love for Japanese culture and plays a two minute taiko drum solo entitled, “Todoroki”. A taiko is a ceremonial Japanese percussion instrument. This short intervention breaks  the heaviest of the album up nicely, and adds a nice touch to the already diverse sound.

Another great instrumental moment is, “At Ease”. A nice acoustic number which again breaks up the album’s aggression and puts you in a place of serenity, before blowing your ears away with one of the heavier tracks on the album,  “Shifting Focus”.

The album holds some great mixing and production value with work from Fredrick Nordstrom. A first for him in terms with working with an Australian band.

Most of his work is based with American and European metal bands. His international background however has made a dramatic effect on the album, and really gives it an international flavor and appeal. The production is quite simple, nothing is done to over the top. This can be a blessing in disguise though, as to much production on any album just ruins the entire moment for some.

One of my favorite tracks on the album, “A Vigil for the Lost” really showcases the bands musicianship as a whole. Not only incorporating some great melodic moments, but also showcases Paul Haug’s definitive vocal talents. He portrays aggressive and passive vocal styles throughout the track, something of which is a common trend throughout the entire album.

This reminded me a lot of Burton C. Bell’s famous vocal stylizing in Fear Factory. Merging great melodic soft moments with aggression and heavy music. Paul pulls it off amazingly without trying to hard to make it sound cliche or redundant. It just sounds solid.

Also included on the album is a cover of ” Communion”, a track made famous by Armoured Angel. A nice aggressive little number which is well suited to the albums diversity.

The album maybe a couple of years old now, but it can still stand the test of time with its solid production and amazing musicianship from Tim Stahlmann and twins, Paul and Andrew Haug.

There is a slight chance not everyone will enjoy this album. Many will find themselves uneven with the albums roller coaster ride of diverse musical influences. If you’re a fan of diverse music however, you’ll easily appreciate this albums worth. You maybe left alittle unsatisfied though with the albums simple outlook on production.  An oldie, but still a goodie. 7/10

Band: Contrive
Album: The Meaning Unseen
Year: 2005
Genre: Melodic Thrash/Metal
Label: Shock
Origin: Melbourne, Australia


1. By Way of Choice
2. Prepare to Fall
3. A Vigil for the Lost <- Reviewer’s choice
4. At Ease
5. Shifting Focus
6. The Meaning Unseen
7. Beside Yourself
8. Todoroki
9. Divided
10. Communion (Armoured Angel cover)
11. Relate


Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook