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Contrarian Minor Complexities album cover
3.39 | 14 ratings | 5 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Operation Overlord (6:12)
2. Twilight of the Idols (4:45)
3. String of Fate (4:07)
4. Fear and Trembling (10:15)
5. Barricades (5:38)
6. Another Day (3:09)
7. Just Doing Time (3:19)
8. Plato's Cave (5:37)
9. You're My Prayer (2:38)
10. Stand or Fall (5:12)
11. Sanguine Bells (5:45)
12. The Final Hand (2:59)

Total Time 59:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Timothy G. Boney / guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, bass, percussion, vocals
- Joseph L. Leming / Lead and backing vocals, percussion
- Michael J. White / drums

Guest Musicians
-Lance Cockrell / violin
-Eric Jorgenson / cello

Releases information


Thanks to bhikkhu for the addition
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CONTRARIAN Minor Complexities ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CONTRARIAN Minor Complexities reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by bhikkhu
4 stars Wide eyed, and eager, I arrived at NEARfest 2007. This was my first prog festival. It was early, and I had a great opportunity to visit the various vending tables before the crowd grew. I knew there would be the various music stores represented, artists, and the bands playing on the main stage. What I did not know was that other bands would reserve space to promote themselves. The first such table I happened upon was for Contrarian, a band I had never heard of. This actually makes sense (as I would come to find out later), because their debut album had just been released that week. I listened to a bit of the music, and introduced myself to the man at the table. Tim Boney and I spoke a bit, and to my surprise, learned that he was unaware of Prog Archives. More people were coming around, so we decided to talk again later. When we spoke again, we began to build a rapport. He had great ideas about making intellectual music. He also happened to be a very friendly guy. With my interest in his music, and his interest in P.A., he armed me with a copy of Minor Complexities. There are always details to be worked out when launching a new project, so we waited till all the pieces were in place before adding Contrarian to P.A.

During the initial evaluation, it was hard to figure out exactly where to place this band. There is definitely a modern symphonic component, but it also draws heavily on hard rock from the '70s. At that time, there was no Heavy Prog sub- genre, so we decided Symphonic would be best. When I was finally able to get the addition done, it struck me that Heavy Prog would probably be a better fit. At this point (finally), some idea of what the music is like should be forming.

So, what is it exactly that we have here? At first glance, it might seem like an homage to '70s hard rock. You can hear some Styx, and Kansas, but only if the guitars had been much heavier. So, there is a bit of a metal component as well. Joe Leming sounds like he stepped right out of a time machine from the mid '70s. He actually sounds quite a bit like the singer from Triumph (can't remember if it's Emmett or Moore), with perhaps a bit of Steve Walsh, and a touch of Ronnie James Dio thrown in.

Once you dig a little deeper, you see that there is much more to this. The complexity begins to unfold as you notice they have nicely incorporated violin on some of the tracks. Then you notice that there are moments that almost remind you of something Les Claypool, or Gentle Giant might do. As it unfolds, the melodic keyboards, modern symphonic techniques, and insightful lyrics begin to attract attention. There are also some slower, almost ballad moments. It is all put together seamlessly. This is a polished act. It should be, as it took several years to complete. It is also impressive how three guys make this sound like a much larger band. In fact, the band did have to increase its numbers in order to play live.

With all that is going on, it is still the remembrance of '70s hard rock that is the primary flavor of Contrarian. It is very well done, but that style has lost much of its appeal to me over the years. I rarely find myself listening to the rock classics of that era anymore, and I never was a big Kansas fan. But, that doesn't mean it's not good. I think it's mainly the vocal style. Joe Leming has a terrific voice, but I just prefer a bit more subtlety these days. The lyrics are also thought provoking, and intended to be that way. The subject matter has a lot of depth. All the musicians definitely know their way around their instruments. The guitar is especially ripping. If this sounds like something you would be into, then go for it. I give it a 3.5 rating, and am happy to round it up to four.

H.T. Riekels

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars It made me extremely happy to find "Minor Complexities" as the featured album of the month, since a few months ago I've been indirectly involved in the addition of this excellent New Jersey band to our database, and I believe they represent the best of 21st Century's USA Progressive Rock.

"CONTRARIAN" manages to combine the spirit of Classical Progressive Rock with a new fresh sound that clearly marks a distance with the great dinosaurs of the 70's even when always showing respect to their influence; their sound reminds me of KANSAS but with a harder and more aggressive edge.

That's why it surprised me when I found a couple of persons saying they were tired of Retro-Prog albums as "Minor Complexities"..For God's sake, this is a band with strong roots in Symphonic, what else can you expect if Prog is a genre that reached it's first peak in the 70's? Any Symphonic or Symphonic oriented band as CONTRARIAN needs some Classic era influence, but this guys are cloning nobody, yes you can listen some echoes from KANSAS, KING CRIMSON, GENESIS and even DEEP PURPLE and URIAH HEEP, but to blend all that influence and still be original, you need talent, and this guys have it.

I believe the problem is not the band, but some people simply prefer much more complex stuff (Which I usually don't understand), but if you like strong melodies with a hard edge, you most surely will like CONTRARIAN.

The album starts with "Operation Overlord", an excellent track about the "D-Day" with a clear USA Symphonic style "a la" KANSAS, but if the Topeka guy's strongest point is the blending of violin with keyboards, CONTRARIAN presents us a very solid violin, guitar and drum work. Joseph L Leming voice is probably not as strong as Greg Lake's but his style is perfectly adequate for the music, something in his vocal range reminds me of Tommy Shaw with a metallic edge. The whole band is excellent, but the impressive violin performance of Lance Cockrell helps to boost the sound.

"Twilight of the Idols" is a heavier song, you can listen some DREAM THEATER influence but much more melodic, as I suspected Leming's voice suits much better for this kind of stuff, again the electric guitar takes the lead but this time the dramatic organ sections are much more important for the overall sound.

After a frantic track, they need to calm the mood and that's the job done by "Sting of Fate", probably the less Prog track up to this point. Don't know if the intended this, but I can perceive some Grand Funk Railroad shadows which are boosted by the almost Psyche era keyboards and Lemings sounding almost like Mark Farner. They prove that not everything has to be Prog to be good.

The fans of more complex stuff will be pleased with "Fear and Tremblig", which stats with the complexity of KING CRIMSON but soon changes to Hard Prog with a touch of DEEP PURPLE, even the keyboard reminds of Jon Lord in "Burn" with that Neo-Classical sound he created so nicely. After several minutes of strong material the band returns to a softer passage that leads to the finale where the powerful keyboards are the star, one of my favorite songs in the album.

"Barricade" is totally different to any previous song, as always the Hard Rock essence is there but this time the structure is much more complex and the changes are very dramatic, it's hard to compare this song with the work of any band because it's totally eclectic; and have to say it again, the vocals in this heavier tracks is much better.

"Another Day" brings us back to KANSAS, but this time to John Elefante's era, if I had to choose a weaker track in the album I would go with this one, despite the excellent guitar work I find it less satisfying.

"Just Doing Time" starts very rhythmic, again they move away from Prog, but this time goes too simple, if I had to compare "Just Doing Time" with any other band's sound, I would go with early Bon Jovi. We reached the lower point, but the good news is that from now on, everything is uphill.

"Plato's Cave" presents us a different approach, much more dramatic and darker than all the previous tracks (We're back in Progressive Rock's territory), solid keyboard with occasional guitar explosions make of this song a soft and pleasant experience until the middle when they dramatically change to a more complex and aggressive approach with a hard rock keyboard and violin based ending, a very high point..

Now its' turn for the acoustic and softer "You're My Prayer" which sounds closer to a lighter Prog more or les in the vein of STYX, extremely melodic and melancholic, nice change, Timothy Boney proves us he can deal with electric an acoustic guitar with equal dexterity.

"Stand or Fall" is a Prog Metal track that changes by moments into a Power Ballad with an excellent piano background and a couple of radical changes, no time to rest, CONTRARIAN seems to have what I call panic to emptiness filling all silent moments with their strength,

"Sanguine Bells" takes us to new territory, now CONTRARIAN is trying a Hard Neo Prog style, with those fast and pompous keyboards close to Mark Kelly's style, not the best track but this guys sure are versatile, they have music for all the tastes, specially because the song mutates about the middle to an IRON MAIDEN reminiscent mood.

The album ends with "The Final Hand" which again makes imagine how IRON MAIDEN would sound if they had a Psyche oriented keyboard, even the vocals seem closer to a Bruce Dickinson style, strong closer.

There's something else we have to talk about, the lyrics, because it's not common for a band of any genre to try writing about Kierkegaard, Neitzsche or Plato's Philosophical concept, so if you add the intelligent and well crafted lyric, we are before an excellent debut album.

Now comes the hard part, rating the album, because the music is extremely solid except in a couple of weaker tracks which neither are bad, but to give 5 stars we require the album to be totally Prog and "Minor Complexities" have a couple of excellent but straight Hard Rock songs.

On the other hand there's no way I would qualify such a strong and versatile debut album with three stars, because it's way over the average. So I will go with four solid stars, for an extremely solid album. If you like Symphonic and hard Rock made in USA, get the album, you won't be disappointed.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Minor Complexities is the debut album from American heavy prog band Contrarian. Heavy Prog is exactly the right catagory for Contrarian as they are basically a symphonic hard rock band with progressive tendencies here and there.

The album starts with Operation Overlord and the violin from Lance Cockrell imidiately reminds me of Kansas. I also hear a few Rush influences ( very few) on some of the later songs but the music on Minor Complexities is very hard rock driven. Lots of keyboards and synths from Timothy G. Boney but with an emphasis on the heavy guitars. Sometimes itīs so heavy that I even think fans of the hard rock styled progressive metal genre will find listening pleasure here. A good example of that is the 10:15 minutes long Fear and Trembling which does more than touch progressive metal. Joseph L. Leming is a very skilled singer and if you like hard rock singers like Ian Gillian or David Coverdale youīll probably love his voice.

The musicianship is excellent. This might be a debut album but donīt be fooled these musicians are very accomplished and experienced.

The production is good but nothing special.

So I guess it comes down to the question of how much you like your progressive rock to be hard rock influenced. Personally this is not my taste, but I can still hear that Minor Complexities is a good album. Iīll rate the album 3 stars and itīs only because of my lack of interest in the genre that I will not reward it with a fourth star. The music is of very high quality.

Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars This came right out from left field for me, I don't know why but for some reason I was thinking this band was an instrumental band inspired by KING CRIMSON. Not ! So imagine my shock when this hard rocking band comes on over the speakers sounding like they're a cross between BON JOVI and KANSAS. Mostly I kept thinking that this sounds like a Classic Rock station playing songs from the seventies and eighties. I did not like this album even a little. For me this is far from being the kind of music I enjoy or even what you'd normally find on a Progressive Rock site. That's just my opinion of course.

"Operation Overload" is straight out of KANSAS' play-book with the violin and overall sound. "Twilight Of The Idols" is uptempo with drums and violin standing out. "String Of Fate" again has those vocals that would suit a Hard Rock band as he yells the lyrics out there. This one's about a stripper. "Fear And Trembling" is a 10 minute hard rocker with some good guitar around 2 minutes. "Barricades" kicks in before a minute followed by vocals. An energetic guitar solo after 4 minutes.

"Another Day" is a rocker with vocals, guitar and drums standing out. "Just Doing Time" is like an 80's Metal power ballad. "Pluto's Cave" opens with samples and violin. Drums and a full sound follow. The tempo shifts on this one a lot. Hey I can even hear some bass after 3 minutes. "Your'e My Prayer" is a song that features acoustic guitar and vocals. Awful is the word unfortunately. "Stand Or Fall" is much better with some excellent guitar and organ too. "Sanguine Bells" is drums and synths early before vocals and organ come in. Drums dominate before 2 minutes. "The Final Hand" is uptempo and fairly heavy. Violin and organ too.

Some good ratings on here for this one but 2 stars accurately reflects my feelings for this one.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Wow! I had this album lying around for ages and I canīt really understand why it took me so long to hear it. So much time in fact that I couldnīt remember why I got the CD (though Iīm sure I read about them on PA). When I played I was caught completely by surprise with its 70īs hard rocking sound, It is clear that Kansas was the main inspiration for leader/multi instrumentalist/songwriter Timothy G. Boney. Just listen to the opener, the six minute Operaton Overload. it sounds like one of Kansas best, including the heavy guitars, driving organ, violin solo and general atmosphere. But they actually donīt sound like copycats. There are other references too, like southern rock here and there plus some more up to date touches.

Minor Complexities is a very energetic, varied and convincing album, thanks to the excellent compositions, the tasteful arrangements and, most of all, Joseph L. Leminīs stunning vocal lines. What pair of pipes he has! He sounds like a dozen or more 70īs singers put together (yes, Steve Walsh included, but not too much). There are some symphonic elements here, but the label heavy prog is VERY fitting. If youīre into 70īs prog rock you canīt not miss this one. They sound like something lost in the 70īs, except for the heavier guitar sound and the brilliant, modern production. Some songs are better than others, but there are no fillers. Those guys are really talented and love what they do!

I really hope those guys release something like this one soon. As a first (and so far only) work I can say this is more than promising. They have put out an outstandig, powerful record. Not perfect, of course, but a four star rating efford, no doubt. Recommended.

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