Contrarian – Sage of Shekhinah (Review)

Contrarian - Sage of ShekhinahThis is the fifth album from US progressive death metallers Contrarian.

New Contrarian! Cast your mind and ears back over Polemic, To Perceive Is to Suffer, Their Worm Never Dies, and Only Time Will Tell, and you’ll find a band that has never released a bad album. I have a long-running soft spot for this band, but one that’s well-deserved. Contrarian are the sound of pure satisfying enjoyment in progressive death metal form.

Contrarian play a technical form of progressive death metal that takes from both the old-school and the new, forming songs that offer both depth of worldbuilding and instantly appealing aggression. Sage of Shekhinah lasts 33 minutes, and it’s an album that’s effortless to return to again and again and again.

The music’s technical riffs and organic drumming are wrapped in exploratory bass and fluid melodic colours, with the latter being exceptionally striking and infectious. Seriously, many of these melodies sound like they were written in water and somehow transmuted into flowing sonic streams. All aspects of Contrarian’s music are impressive though, and they all fit together in complex ways to produce songs that are easy to listen to and enjoy if you’re a fan of the style.

The band have a new singer on Sage of Shekhinah, and he’s more than up to the task. His voice is a charismatic snarl; a dark and serrated vocalisation that comes from the darkness, with the inevitability of an unexpected blade. His voice is great for the material, demonstrates a good range, and is a strong addition to a very strong band.

Sage of Shekhinah has not disappointed. I always have high expectations of Contrarian, and they always deliver the goods. If this sort of technical and progressive death metal appeals to you, then I simply can’t recommend this album enough.

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