Mike Hawbaker’s Review

Warning: Listening to this album may cause a severe release of endorphins.

Okay all you prog nerds, It’s here.  The Contortionist’s latest, highly anticipated album “Intrinsic” was released on July 17 via Good Fight Records.  I first heard of this band a few months after the release of their debut “Exoplanet”.  Later in 2011, I saw these guys on the Frak The Gods tour and their set was nothing short of perfection.

With “Intrinsic”, this Indiana 5-piece really steps up their game.  Like Periphery, The Contortionist took a lighter approach with their sophomore album, cutting back on the Deathcore elements found on “Exoplanet”. In fact, the first track titled “Holomovement” may very well be the lightest song on the album.  “Intrinsic” also seems to flow a little more smoothly, creating an overall cohesive sound which helps to push the band further into the Progressive Metal genre and further away from Deathcore.  As far as themes go, this album takes the complete opposite direction from “Exoplanet’s” epic journey through space and instead focuses on the human mind.  “Intrinsic” may take a few extra listens to truly enjoy and the increased amount of softer sections could very well disappoint some listeners, but fans of progressive and experimental music are sure to enjoy this release.

Mike Thall’s Review

“A Secret Dimenson of Noise” The album opener “Holomovement” sums up the experience. This is an experimental juggernaut of a record. Strong, varied composition and aural pleasures from beginning to end. My friend above already gave you the background on this album so I’ll just jump straight into the review.

As stated above, The Contortionist have definitely dialed back a bit on the heaviness in favor of a more melodic, out of the box approach. But there are still plenty of crushing, brutal moments. Something I found very interesting was the use of acoustic guitar grooves in songs such as “Feedback Loop” and “Geocentric Confusion”. The more I listen to “Intrinsic”, the more The Contortionist are beginning to strike me as a heavy Pink Floyd, which is great beyond words. This really stands out in songs like “Dreaming Schematic” and “Cortical”. There are plenty of trippy segments to feast your mind on. Dark Side of the Metal Moon, so to speak. Another band The Contortionist reminds me of at times is Cynic, which is also great. But similarities aside, The Contortionist certainly have a driving force of their own that sets them apart from most of the pack.

These guys are making some awesome music. First off, I gotta say the drummer Joey Bacca is one groovy dude behind the kit. He really holds together the complexities of the experimental, off-time music with skill. Joey’s brother Robby and Cameron Maynard did some truly innovative, beautiful writing on guitar. Moments such as the second half of “Geocentric Confusion” and all of “Holomovement” are moving. I got goosebumps several times while listening to “Intrinsic”. Creativity and intelligence shine all the way through this record. In combination with the guitar corps is Christopher Tilley holding the groove and contributing stand out parts on bass. Frontman Johnathan Carpenter makes movies… Okay there’s no relation to the director, but this guy is a beast. He plays the keyboard as he sings, screams, and growls. The lyrics are especially interesting, guiding the listener on a journey through human consciousness with imaginative flare. Some of the vocal work is trippy as hell which adds to the Pink Floyd vibe I was mentioning before.

Bottom line is, if you like creative, experimental, heavy music, you should go out and buy “Intrinsic”. Defying the norm and provoking deep thought, The Contortionist have really outdone themselves. I would have to say this album is a step up from “Exoplanet”, which is saying something because “Exoplanet” is a massive record. There are sections of genius to be found here if you take the time and listen.

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