THE CONTORTIONIST
Metalcore • United States

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THE CONTORTIONIST is a US (Indianapolis, Indiana) progressive deathcore act formed in 2007. The band released a couple of EPs before releasing their debut full-length studio album "Exoplanet" in 2010.

(Biography written by UMUR)
Thanks to UMUR for the addition

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THE CONTORTIONIST Discography

THE CONTORTIONIST albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.92 | 6 ratings
Exoplanet
Metalcore 2010
.. Album Cover 4.23 | 7 ratings
Intrinsic
Metalcore 2012

THE CONTORTIONIST EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 1.09 | 3 ratings
Shapeshifter
Metalcore 2008
.. Album Cover 2.93 | 3 ratings
Apparition
Metalcore 2009

THE CONTORTIONIST live albums

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THE CONTORTIONIST Reviews

THE CONTORTIONIST Intrinsic

Album · 2012 · Metalcore
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Genre: progcore

The Contortionist are described as a deathcore band, and, if there is one genre that I tend to find hideously unimaginative and uninspiring then it is deathcore. There are only a couple of deathcore bands that appeal to me - I simply find the genre boring. Now, The Contortionist are not your average duh-duh-duunn-duunn deathcore band. In fact, I don't even think they are a deathcore band as such. To my ears, they are an progressive band who draw on deathcore among other metal-genres.

And, indeed, "Intrinsic" is far from boring. It does feature the heavy grooves and stereotypical breakdowns known from deathcore, but these are just one ingredient in a musical mixture that also includes djent, jazz rock and more traditional progressive metal elements. The jazz rock aspect of the album is reflected in the use of dissonant jazz-typical chords as well as guitar solos and keyboard figures which most of all remind me of Chick Corea Electric Band. These elements appear side by side with djent-inspired odd metered metal grooves and vocals which are sometimes harsh and sometimes melodic (but without being poppy, like you hear in some branches of metalcore). As a whole, this album is characterized by dynamic song structures with numerous twists and turns and, personally, I really enjoy listening to it.

There seems to be a considerable inspiration from Cynic which is ubiquitous on the album and there are certain similarities with the jazz-driven djent project Animals As Leaders, but this does not mean that "Intrinsic" is not original.

Fans of tech/prog metalcore and djent as well as jazz metal should definitely chick this fine album out!

THE CONTORTIONIST Exoplanet

Album · 2010 · Metalcore
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Conor Fynes
'Exoplanet' - The Contortionist (8/10)

Metal has always been a type of music where a little bending of the rules is encouraged, and with that in mind, many talented young acts have been taking advantage of the style to express themselves in new heavy ways. Enter The Contortionist, a five piece progressive metal act that carries that somewhat stigmatic label of 'deathcore' around with them, but as one can hear on their debut full-length record 'Exoplanet', there is much more going on to them than the label implies. Contrasting claustrophobic technical death metal with wonderfully atmospheric jazz and post-rock moments, 'Exoplanet' is a futuristic dive into metal that showcases the skill of some promising young talent.

Many of the younger bands have been attracted to the breakdown-heavy and crushing sounds of deathcore, but to be entirely honest, few are able to pull off the sound with intelligence or taste. The Contortionist is certainly a heavy act by all accounts, but as virtually every track on this debut indicates, there is more going on to them than mere metal riffage. 'Primal Directive' and 'Flourish' both start out as fairly straightforward technical metal tracks, complete with blistering drums and guitars, and fairly generic growls. As the music goes on though, the band is common to shift into lighter, melodic sections. This is where the great strength of 'Exoplanet' lies; in the atmospheric beauty moments where they take it down a notch and contrast their typically heavy metal sound. This is not to say that the metal aspect of The Contortionist is not tight however, just not as unexpected. The Contortionist is very technically complex, and during the most technical moments of their fury, it is often very difficult to predict where the band will head next, even if the sound revolves around the same guitar tones over the course of the record.

The Contortionist does contrast the heavy and light moments throughout the record, and at times, this can start feeling a little formulaic. Luckily, the melodic moments are so atmospheric, and the heavy parts are technical enough to keep the whole thing interesting to the end. The closest comparison or evident influence to the band's sound would actually be to Cynic, and while that influence certainly does not show in the band's necessary breakdowns and tech riffs, it is clear in the melodic moments, particularly in the way that a vocorder is used over the clean vocals. Overall, this gives the band a fairly futuristic sound to them that works well with the sci-fi lyrical themes they cover.

An excellent first full-length from this band, and while I'm not finding myself endeared to every sound that the band has to offer, there are incredible parts here that must be heard by progressive metal listeners.

THE CONTORTIONIST Shapeshifter

EP · 2008 · Metalcore
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Conor Fynes
'Shapeshifter' - The Contortionist (2/10)

First, let's give this thing some context. In 2010, progressive metal band The Contortionist released 'Exoplanet', a great album that showcased the talent of this young act quite nicely. A year before that, The Contortionist released 'Apparition', an EP that definitely suffered from a few issues, but still came across as an inventive and interesting piece of music. It therefore comes as a huge surprise to hear The Contortionist playing something that is so bad. Before they developed into a technical progressive metal act it seems, The Contortionist were dead set on a cringeworthy brand of deathcore; heavy on breakdowns and gutturals, and light on intelligence or tact. In fact, 'Shapeshifter' is one of the worst things I have heard in quite a long time, made especially surprising due to the fact that while most of the bad things I hear are from bands I have low expectations for, The Contortionist is a band that I have come to really respect.

It doesn't take long to realize something is missing from The Contortionist's sound. Even if I had gone to listening to the band without having the great precedent of their more recent proggy material to disappoint me further, 'Shapeshifter' would still come off as the primordial adolescent ooze that it is; a group of kids that prove they can play for a few seconds of each song with a neat solo or technical riff, than throw it all away for another reprise of deathcore's favourite trait; the infamous breakdown. A piece of deathcore canon that may give the kiddies all the reason in the world to nod their heads but makes me shake mine, the breakdown is featured profusely here, and the vocals are only as terrible as I could imagine them to be. An immature howl or grunt is an atrocious performance, and takes the band from being boring to being downright unpleasant to listen to.

The last track here 'Nonmanual Dexterity' does feature a little more going on in it than the rest of the garbage here, but that is not to say it is good, it is to say that theres a moment or two here that show promise. A post-rock section is featured here, and it starts getting quite powerful, but it gets ultimately brought down by some nasty clean vocals that really show the vocalist's immaturity as a musician at this point. Luckily, this one section would get salvaged and reworked on later releases, and here, it is the only part of 'Shapeshifter' that does not reek of piss.

The Contortionist really gets off to a rough start with 'Shapeshifter', and its quite astounding how they were able to tweak and improve their sound so much in the space of a year before 'Apparition'. With this though, I would be inclined to say that this is one of the worst EPs I have heard in months, and perhaps ever. Awful, and were it not for a moment of promise towards the end of the EP, this would be a complete and utter throwaway entirely. Pathetic.

THE CONTORTIONIST Apparition

EP · 2009 · Metalcore
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Conor Fynes
'Apparition' - The Contortionist (6/10)

Before the release of their excellent full-length 'Exoplanet', The Contortionist laid down a very solid foundation for their sound with this self-release. Having been introduced to this American progressive deathcore act through their debut, I have had high expectations for all of their other material, but at the same time, it is difficult not to compare this EP (and 'Shapeshifter') with the debut, which is significantly more developed and refined than the sound here. 'Apparition' is certainly a strong statement for this band though, especially considering it was released while they were still an underground group. While the band's progressive elements are firmly intact here, a little too much of the rather lame deathcore sound is still present, which can make The Contortionist's sound a big of a mixed result.

Even upon first listen, I noticed that many of the musical ideas were sounding familiar, and indeed they are; The Contortionist would later go on to recycle many of these ideas for their more mass-distributed full0length, and luckily, it's the best parts of 'Apparition' that make the cut, as opposed to the weak elements, of which there are a few to mention here. The Contortionist plays a technical style of metal that then alternates between heavier deathcore moments and lighter post-rock sections. The Contortionist can certainly hold their own when it comes to metal; their riffs are fairly standard when it comes to technical death metal, but enjoyable nonetheless. The more simplistic deathcore breakdowns are inherently mediocre and lacking in much interest, but the lighter moments of The Contortionist do tend to set them apart. It is a very nice feeling to hear a band go from chaotic technicality to something very beautiful and effective in its simplicity. The sense of melody is also quite strong in these parts.

'Apparition' does tend to feature a little too much of the adolescent deathcore elements than I might be comfortable with, and while they do tend to make me cringe towards the most generic of the breakdowns here, the rest of the sound that The Contortionist has to offer does make the trade worth it. Many of the best ideas here would go on to be further developed with 'Exoplanet' though, so in hindsight, 'Apparition' can feel a little obsolete. Be that as it may, the EP is fairly strong, and indicative of the potential that they would later grasp with the debut.

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