The Contortionist - Intrinsic
eOne, July 2012
Intrinsic is an amazingly complex metal album that crosses many progressive metal boundaries in an attempt to redefine what a progressive band can be. The most obvious comparisons can be drawn to the work of Cynic, particularly Traced In Air, but influences abound from across the metal spectrum. Opening song “Holomovement” typifies the sound of Intrinsic – a dreamy, melodic, Cynic-like passage, complete with effect-laden vocals and odd time signatures, starts it off before erupting into a heavy, dense section with death metal vocals. The clean-sounding sequence returns and builds up with guitars and layered keyboards, followed by an acoustic interlude that incorporates keyboard and percussive elements borrowed from Peter Gabriel until the drums re-introduce the melodic finish. There’s much to ponder and absorb in the first 6 minutes and 29 seconds alone! The entire album continues this obtuse, mind-bending approach throughout the remaining nine songs. It’s not a casual listen, but it’s one full of deep rewards. Latter-day Cynic influences are everywhere, however, a careful listener can parse out more obscure reference points all over the place such as guitar/keyboard lines at the beginning of “Sequential Vision” lifted from Perfect Symmetry-era Fates Warning. At the point your brain becomes saturated from eight songs of mind-boggling inventiveness, the two main opposing musical forces on the album become separated into the short, heavy “Solipsis” and ambient “Parallel Trance” to close the album. Picking favorite songs on an album of this type is always hard, but I’d pin the best ones down to “Holomovement”, “Geocentric Confusion”, and “Cortical”. Intrinsic combines heavy metalcore and death metal with progressive rock and magically weaves the two together with the right amount of technical precision and musical flair. Fans of progressive hardcore bands such as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Between The Buried And Me will naturally be drawn to this album, so the challenge for The Contortionist will be gaining exposure to a wider progressive metal audience that won’t be put off by the death and metalcore elements of Intrinsic. This is only the second album from this Indianapolis-based outfit so let’s hope that their wellspring of innovation and inspiration brings us many more records.
The Contortionist performs a co-headling show with Within The Ruins on Tuesday, April 9 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from I Declare War, Reflections, and City And The Sea. The same bill hits Clyde Iron Works in Duluth the next night, Wednesday, April 10.