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The Contortionist - Clairvoyant CD (album) cover

CLAIRVOYANT

The Contortionist

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.63 | 10 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mebert78
5 stars It's fitting The Contortionist's new album is titled Clairvoyant, because I'm going to start this review with a prediction: this band has a bright future ahead. A very bright future. Those of you familiar with the group know this already. But this album was the first I ever purchased by the Indianapolis-based progressive metal band, so they're still pretty new to me. Well, to say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. A huge understatement.

Just to provide some background, I first heard of The Contortionist when I saw them open a couple years ago for either Animals as Leaders or Tesseract (I can't remember which band) at Revolution Bar & Music Hall, a 500-person venue on Long Island. They'd impressed me enough to like them on Facebook, and I subsequently enjoyed the music videos from their 2014 album, Language. But, for some reason, I neglected to explore the band any deeper. That will all change with Clairvoyant. Not only has the band mesmerized me with their new nine-track disc, but it's continued to keep me mesmerized for a few weeks now. While that might not seem like a big deal to most people, remember the roster of prog artists that have recently released albums: Caligula's Horse, The Great Discord, Leprous, Steven Wilson and Threshold. Not a bad handful of names. But they've all taken a backseat due to Clairvoyant.

For starters, I must point out that Clairvoyant contains little to no screamed vocals, which is a departure from the band's past sound. The screamlessness became clear when the band shared three tunes online prior to the album's release: "Reimagined," "Absolve" and "Return to Earth." To me, these melodic songs are arguably the disc's catchiest, with "Reimagined" and "Return to Earth" both having captivating videos I viewed dozens of times this summer. There's just something oddly hypnotic about this young group, whether on stage or screen. Of the three tunes, I feel "Return To Earth" is the best of the bunch. It's an absolute beast. I'd even go as far as to say it's my favorite song of the year thus far. Other standout tunes include the rockin' "Godspeed," Deftones-eque "The Center," and brilliantly eerie "Relapse."

As for Clairvoyant in its entirety, it's a haunting journey filled with addictive riffs, atmospheric keyboards and introspective lyrics. Vocalist Michael Lessard shines with his subdued style that reminds me of ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore's singing in Chroma Key and OSI. Lessard has a soft and controlled delivery even in parts where other frontmen might get aggressive, which distinguishes him from his peers in a refreshing way. I can almost feel his zen-like tendencies rubbing off on me as a listener. My only criticism is that I would love to have lyrics in the booklet. The album seems to be about a loved one struggling with drugs, and the words seem so well-crafted that I'd really like to sit and sink my teeth into them.

But the praise doesn't end with Lessard. The whole band shows what they're capable of from "Monochrome (Passive)" to "Monochrome (Pensive)," which beautifully bookend the disc and give it a cohesive feeling. Drummer Joey Baca blew me away with his inventive rhythms that even keep the slower moments moving, while guitarist Robby Baca shows us that he's ready to be mentioned among the genre's best. And, of course, I was must highlight the keyboard wizardry of Eric Guenther, whose perfectly selected sounds add an extra depth to each tune.

The disc flows so well that it's over before you know it, making it feel much shorter than its 54-minute running time. Ironically, it left me wanting more to the point where I immediately ordered the group's previous record, which is their only other release that features Lessard. Regretfully, I missed the band's show last week opening for Between the Buried and Me in Manhattan, but I won't miss any future performances of The Contortionist. That's for sure.

In closing, I'd say The Contortionist have not only released an album of amazing new music with Clairvoyant, they've released a work of art. A meticulously assembled work of art that will leave listeners in appreciation for years to come. A bright future, indeed. Very bright.

- Michael R. Ebert (progzombie.blogspot.com)

Mebert78 | 5/5 |

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