'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.