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Album Reviews : The Contortionist – Clairvoyant

By on August 11, 2017

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore modern tech and prog rock metal, it’s my absolute favourite style of music on the planet. But it’s good every now and then to experience a band who belong within that scheme of things who are really going out of their way to do something wildly different with the sub-genre and put a completely fresh and different spin on it. And with The Contortionist, everything they attempt is pure gold.

Of course, all of this is only possible with a band that possesses incredible skill, imagination and vision.

Many tech and prog bands are just as much masters of creating moody and dreamy ambience as part of their sound as they are of writing heavy riffs and slamming out massive, odd-time grooves, and they inject those atmospheres into their music amongst the technical carnage. The Contortionist, on the other hand, start with the ambience and build their sound around that. This makes their albums more of a journey across washy and emotional soundscapes, with occasional forays into heaviness, than a bludgeoning and brutal experience.

This is their fourth fell-length album, and it finds them in the best form of their career. Those atmospheric twists and turns are present in no uncertain terms, and are truly compelling. Probably best exemplified by the stunning track Relapse, but the entire album is a thing of idiosyncratic beauty.

Whilst you can certainly drop in on any individual track and find tremendous enjoyment in it, Clairvoyant is one of those albums that really must be experienced from end to end, as an entire entity. It is a journey, a narrative, a fascinating story in which to get swept up. Adding further to this idea is the fact that this album starts enormously and only gets even better as it goes along, with the final three cuts (including the aforementioned Relapse) being the absolute highlights on an album of wall to wall quality. Closer Monochrome (Pensive) is like nothing you will have heard before, a swirling, slowly and subtly building nine and a half minute epic that will make their hairs on your neck stand to attention.

This album should cement The Contortionist as one of the key progressive heavy bands on the planet, if they weren’t there already. Take one listen to Clairvoyant and you will see the future of this style of music in all its glory.

Band: The Contortionist
Album: Clairvoyant
Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label:  eOne Music
Origin: USA


Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.