Back in 2010, The Contortionist released their first full length, “Exoplanet”, an album that may have been criminally missed or overlooked by many. Combining the then buzz sub genre of ‘deathcore’ with a forward thinking progressive element and huge melody to excellent effect, it was an album that really made the band ones to keep an eye on (at least for me), and set them apart from many of their peers. Two years on and they are back with “Intrinsic”.
What is most notable about “Intrinsic” is that there is far less on show that ties it in with the deathcore genre (if you consider it one in the first place). Whilst on “Exoplanet” these characteristics were very obvious, on here they are virtually stripped away. Still very technical but less breakdown heavy and more centred to the melodic and progressive side of things, the latter of which has been hugely dialled up. “Intrinsic” is a much more experimental effort than its predecessor, with vast amounts of mellower passages, tempo shifts and even hints of jazz in the mix. There are still aggressive parts here, and impressive they still are, but they are far fewer in comparison to “Exoplanet”.
On top of all this, Jonathan Carpenter’s vocals show such a matching diversity and a real improvement from before. Whilst on “Exoplanet” there wasn’t anything wrong with his vocal performance as such, here it is just on a whole new level; managing to be ferocious, delicate and soft whenever it lends itself to the music. What also impresses is how gripping and intriguing “Intrinsic” proves to be. At several points you may expect it to move in to a different direction to what it chooses to do, but never feels too challenging.
On first listen I have to admit that I did not feel “Intrinsic” too well. At first it didn’t grab me and I felt it was not a great follow up and even a disappointment. With repeated listens however, it just grows and grows on you, until you realise just how superb a release it is. A release that further cements this band’s reputation and sees them certify a niche of their own without going too much against the grain. If you did happen to miss “Exoplanet”, DO NOT MISS THIS.