The Contortionist – Clairvoyant (Review)

The ContortionistThe Contortionist are a progressive metal band from the US and this is their fourth album.

Here we have 56 minutes of modern progressive metal that throws in elements of technical and atmospheric metal into the mix, as well as some post-rock and jazz.

Overall this is a very laid back album that’s more concerned with creating vast sonic soundscapes and immersive moodscapes than it is in being aggressive and rowdy.

The songs are bright and sparkly, existing in their own effervescent dimension of emotive expression and metallic radiance. Although this album lacks a certain level of negativity/pessimism that I enjoy in my music, the songs on Clairvoyant are still engaging enough, and never really overstep their bounds into the territories of the ridiculously upbeat.

They songs are at their best when at they start to create atmospheres that are on the darker end of the spectrum. It’s at these times when the music has the greatest impact and seems to carry the most depth and meaning. The title track is a great example of this; songs like this are where the band truly shine. Alternatively, songs like Return to Earth also work really well; the atmospheres in a song like this are relatively uplifting/bright, but in a subdued, slow-burning way, and the progressive dynamics and structuring lends it real weight. Very nice.

The singer’s voice seems to float inside the music as just another instrument to be used to enrich the atmospheres that the band create. His voice soars or croons, without usually becoming the focal point as most vocals do, resulting in music that has the air of an instrumental album, despite actually having vocals. This is no bad thing, as it allows the listener to focus on whatever aspect of the song they prefer. As there’s usually quite a lot going on in the music, this approach pays dividends.

This album is definitely a grower. It increasingly draws you in the more you listen and absorb it. Some songs always seem a little bit too much on the facile side despite repeated spins, (Godspeed, for example), whereas others really do come into their own the more you listen to them.

The Contortionist’s new album is an expansive mood piece that immerses the listener in rich, textured soundscapes from the very first track onward. Although certainly not perfect, it’s an album that gets more rewarding the more time you spend with it. And, on the songs where the band nail their own formula, the results are truly impressive.

Check this out.

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