Musicality Unlimited

Your destination for all things music

Tag: progressive metal

Review: The Contortionist – “Clairvoyant”

Release date: September 15, 2017
Rating: outstanding (4)

Line-up:

Michael Lessard – vocals
Robby Baca – guitar
Cameron Maynard – guitar
Joey Baca – percussion
Jordan Eberhardt – bass
Eric Guenther – keyboards

I am the type of person who listens to black metal while studying. I am also the type of person who falls asleep to Swallow The Sun. But from time to time, I am like everyone else: I’m craving calm, balanced music, and that’s the kind of music The Contortionist, one of the greatest prog bands on the market, have been offering for the last couple of years. If you aren’t familiar with The Contortionist, note that this band’s style pretty much went from a quite balanced mix of prog rock, djent and deathcore to almost meditative post-rock and fusion in less than ten years. Someone even commented on one of The Contortionist’s music videos saying that their new material feels very soothing for people who struggle with anxiety.

The Contortionist still play progressive music of course, but ever since their third record “Language” released in 2014, it seems as if they have found a niche they enjoy and to which they will probably stick for the future. While there still were some djent and deathcore elements to be found on that album, things have changed a little with “Clairvoyant” – the harsh vocals have completely disappeared and even though there are some heavier parts, they can’t really be compared to The Contortionist’s djent/deathcore past.
One thing I often dislike about progressive bands is how they try to include every single idea they might have had during songwriting without considering if those different elements are in tune with each other. The Contortionist, on the contrary, have been establishing a more simplified approach to songwriting, and have perfected the art of writing songs that flow perfectly from beginning to end and into each other from the first to the last track. That is why discussing every track individually wouldn’t make any sense – you really have to listen to the whole record to understand it. Some beautiful songs, however, are “Godspeed”, “Reimagined” and “Absolve”.
Additionally, I can’t stress enough what great of a vocalist Michael Lessard is. It is not only his ability to change from soft head voice singing to pig squeals that makes him special, but also the fact that he sounds absolutely flawless live. He really has full control over his voice and I particularly enjoy how he incorporates his r’n’b influences into his vocals. On “Clairvoyant”, he dispenses with harsh vocals, though, and to be honest, I do believe that giving up the harsh vocals wasn’t the best idea. I see, however, where The Contortionist wanted to go with this record and that such vocals just wouldn’t fit into the musical concept of “Clairvoyant”.
Another aspect that could be seen as a downside to this record in general is the fact that it flows to the point where it lacks a certain surprise effect. Or, in other words, you could be listening to “Clairvoyant” and there probably wouldn’t be any kind of “WTF!” moment. Of course, a record shouldn’t be solely based on those moments, but a little surprise here and there would be welcome on this particular one. Having Lessard’s whole vocal spectrum would probably enable a more extreme sound dimension to the record and make it even more interesting and enjoyable.

Other than that, I can’t think of anything negative. Just keep in mind that if you are looking for tech metal and djent, The Contortionist isn’t the band to offer you that kind of style of music anymore. Apart from that, I believe that this album can make you happy: It is great at calming you down, and to top it all, it will satisfy any progressive music freak’s need for extraordinary music.

Tracks:
01. Monochrome (Passive)
02. Godspeed
03. Reimagined
04. Clairvoyant
05. The Center
06. Absolve
07. Relapse
08. Return To Earth
09. Monochrome (Pensive)

New tracks worth checking out: July 2017

The Contortionist – Absolve
Ah, The Contortionist. I still remember listening to them for the very first time when I received the promo for their 2014 release Language. Already one minute in, I knew that I would adore that album, and I still do. It is safe to say that The Contortionist are amongst the most exciting acts in progressive music, and they continue to please their fans with this new track. “Absolve” is the second track off The Contortionist’s new record Clairvoyant out on September 15. Same as on Language, they continue to play intricate, yet very calming, ethereal music. Trust me, you need this band in your life, and you definitely need to throw this new track onto your playlist.

Hallatar – Mirrors
Hallatar’s debut album No Stars Upon The Bridge is one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. Equally, I was really excited to listen to the first song off the new record. The band is featuring Juha Raivio of Swallow The Sun, Gas Lipstick of HIM and Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis, so if you know these bands, you probably can imagine how “Mirrors” might sound like. It is the darkest shade of dark, powerful, and, similarly to Juha Raivio’s previous project Trees Of Eternity, hauntingly beautiful.

Arch Enemy – The World Is Yours
Unlike many other Arch Enemy fans, I am really happy with the band’s new work with vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. She brings her own influences as an artist into the band while trying to stick to the classic Arch Enemy style without sounding fake. After the last album War Eternal, the first one with White-Gluz, Arch Enemy is about to release their new, highly anticipated album Will To Power and “The World Is Yours” is the first taste of the new record. There is not a lot to say about Arch Enemy, only that they deliver every single time, period.

Ne Obliviscaris – Intra Venus
Ne Obliviscaris is one of those insanely good bands that everyone and their mama lose their minds when they announce anything new. Long ago, the Australian prog band released the first track off their new record URN due in October. People lost their minds. I lost my mind.
One thing I have always loved about this band is that despite the fact that very instrument has a place to shine, the music never sounds overdone or too much. These guys probably just can’t write bad songs. However, let’s wait for the entire record and for now, we can enjoy this beautiful new track called “Intra Venus”.

Review: Rings Of Saturn – “Ultu Ulla”

Release date: July 28, 2017
Rating: outstanding (4)

Line-up:
Lucas Mann – Guitars, Bass, Synth
Ian Bearer – Lyrics, Vocals
Aaron Stechauner – Drums
Miles Dimitri Baker – Guitar

The first time I heard about the band Rings Of Saturn was when I watched one of Jared Dines’ videos. It is called “10 ways to headbang (for beginners)” and that’s where he shows different types of headbangers at metal shows. At some point, there is one type called “Every Rings Of Saturn Show” and he shows a guy who just can’t figure out how to headbang. So apparently, Rings Of Saturn’s music is so complicated when it comes to rhythm that no one can figure it out.
So now I’m sitting here, listening to Rings Of Saturn’s new record Ultu Ulla because weird music is just what I’m into; additionally, I wanted to check out this band ever since watching that video.

The record is composed of several explosive, fast and mind-blowingly complex tracks accompanied by some fresh acoustic intros and interludes for good measure. Rings Of Saturn show that deathcore doesn’t have to be repetitive, but can in fact be really exciting and interesting for fans of technical and progressive music: Abysmal, dark breakdowns alternate with colorful synthesizer and guitar melodies on Ultu Ulla. Merely the vocals sound a little monotonous to me, but I assume that people who are listening to Rings Of Saturn aren’t doing so because of the vocals in particular. This is a band that surely has things to offer past good vocals.

I can tell you that once you have gone through the initial “What the heck am I listening to”-phase, you might really enjoy this record. Ultu Ulla is something different that is worth giving a listen, so don’t be put off by retro video game soundtrack inspired guitar melodies and Rings Of Saturn’s alien and space concept. Highlights: “Servant Of This Sentience” and “Inadequate”.

Tracks:
01. Servant of this Sentience
02. Parallel Shift
03. Unhallowed
04. Immemorial Essence
05. The Relic
06. Margidda
07. Harvest
08. The Macrocosm
09. Prognosis Confirmed
10. Inadequate

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén