The Contortionist represents fearlessness in musical expression, designed to please artist as much as audience. This band makes progressive metal music, anchored in the heavy sounds that first drew the individual players to the stage, yet unmoored by convention or expectation.
On Clairvoyant, the band’s distinctive fingerprints remain, even as their atmospheric flourishes broaden to encompass ever-richer textures and mine the beauty of simplicity.
For the entirety of their career, The Contortionist has proven capable of being been equally at home on tour with Deftones, Periphery, or Between The Buried And Me, thanks to their dynamic combination of metal’s blunt precision with the adventurous spirit of prog-rock heroes like Rush and King Crimson. The Contortionist integrates seemingly disparate worlds to create their own sound, with a focus on tone, vibe, color, and atmosphere.
The band’s first two records, Exoplanet (2010) and Intrinsic (2012), are monstrously heavy,though no less ambitious than their newer and more expansive creative declarations. The character of The Contortionist’s sound expanded greatly with Language, the 2014 monolithic album that introduced the band’s current lineup of vocalist Michael Lessard, keyboardist Eric Guenther, and bassist Jordan Eberhardt alongside co-founding members Cameron Maynard (guitar) and brothers Robby Baca (guitar) and Joey Baca (drums). In it’s 5/5 review, Substream praised the album as being akin to “a journey through a dream state.” Prog Metal Zone was similarly kind, awarding the album 10/10 and remarking on its propulsive drum rhythms, ambient keyboards, fusion, and “astonishingly inventive flight(s) of musicality.”
Clairvoyant, which reunited the band with producer Jamie King (Between The Buried And Me, Through The Eyes Of The Dead), takes the best elements of The Contortionist’s past and reshapes them as the band follows their individual creative muses toward the future.
The Contortionist ultimately prove to have as much in common with the psychedelic experimentation of later Opeth or Tool and even the textured melodicism of Sigur Ros as they do technical heavy music, but they’ve never sacrificed urgent impact. Critics and fans admire their intelligent approach to the crushing riffs of tech-metal, which becomes more vibrant with elements of ambitious post rock and jazzy / fusion-infused virtuosity. Even when angular riffs, odd time signatures, and devastating breakdowns give way to hypnotic,ethereal, and trancelike musical meditations, The Contortionist are never lacking in total power.
In whatever The Contortionist endeavors to do, there will always be a great amount of thought, attention to detail, and shared love of musicality. They have committed to never surrender to the path of least resistance, always challenging themselves and their audience.
This is art for art’s sake. The Contortionist ease through the doors of perception with grace where possible and smash through the boundaries with absolute force when necessary.