There must be a written rule in the official guide to playing in a Tech/Progressive metal band: “Must suddenly lose and replace your vocalist.” Indianapolis’ own prog magicians The Contortionist are the latest to fall to the vocalist trapdoor with Jonathan Carpenter leaving the fold. The follow up rule must surely state that the replacement is considered a better build than the previous (until they eventually depart as well). Well in the case of new vocalist Mike Lessard (Last Chance To Reason), that sentiment rings very apt.
Starting off as lot more ferocious prospect on their debut full length Exoplanet, The Contortionist have morphed and adapted into something a lot more beautiful and thought provoking. Language (eOne) in fact shows a much greater maturity in songwriting with a rich cauldron of inspiration. Opening with the hypnotic passage ‘The Source’, it creates an air of ambience and weightlessness before moving into a drifting variety of Djent reminiscent of DispersE. From here it moves from jazz tinged randomness through splatterings of heaviness back to softer moments, all managing to flow with cohesion.
The real show stealing performance however comes from Lessard who delivers a tremendous feat of versatility, managing to acclimatize to each and every style from his trance like delicate notes when the music is at its most frail to a fierce bark at its most aggressive, and all with superb technique.
Yes, The Contortionist may have fallen to the Tech Metal vocalist issue that makes Spinal Tap look secure with drummers; but here the change has only elevated them further. Language should prove a real benchmark for progressive metal in terms of its limitless capabilities and should appeal to both fans of tech metal, and the likes of Sound Of Contact and the likes of Riverside.
This is one special band.