ALBUM REVIEW: Clairvoyant – The Contortionist

The fourth album from American progressive metal outfit THE CONTORTIONIST has been highly anticipated following their ground-breaking release Language from 2014. Clairvoyant has a lot of expectations to meet and exceed, how does the three year wait translate to a band characterised by their progressive nature?

The album opens slowly with Monochrome, a smooth yet eerie synth backdrops smashes open into an abyss of low churned distortion. Suddenly the noise dissipates and brings forth the guitars, delayed and peaceful guiding the song. It’s almost heavenly, the luscious mood created flowing with the drums and bass holding together the rhythm. Godspeed emerges out the other end, bringing along with it another reverberated mix of guitars and the soft yet flowing vocals from Mike Lessard. Previous fans of the band will notice the guitar tone has matured, veering away from savage distortion to a more mellow and distinctive crunch.

Reimagined is the first single from the album and it’s very easy to see why. The vocals here are astonishing, Lessard‘s lines are wonderfully smooth yet full of meaning, the backdrop of instruments sets a moody scene which brings the song through its verses, the bass from Jordan Eberhardt is thick and helps to navigate the song smoothly whilst the guitars create vivid imagery in their own ways. The chorus is incredibly catchy and will have fans singing along instead of banging their heads, an impressive feat from a band with this level of technical ability.

The songs closes quietly before moving onto the self titled Clairvoyant, picking up the pace and the aggression the song shows the band haven’t lost their heavy touch despite the new found melody throughout the album. At nearly 8 minutes long this song showcases THE CONTORTIONIST‘s technical prowess, the riffs are punchy and progressive in nature. There’s a hint of djent throughout the song, the riffs bouncing through odd time signatures in a low churned dichotomy compared to the synth and electronic elements floating above helping to keep the melody throughout each passage. Towards the end a synth lead from Eric Guenther brings forth a DREAM THEATRE element which is surprising yet not out of place amidst the changing nature of the song.

Opening softly afterwards which a guitar that’s seemingly miles away comes The Centre. The song follows an arpeggiated guitar pattern that evolves and serves as the base while the calm vocals and synths mingle beautifully to provide a sense of nonchalance. Towards the end the song slips into an entirely synthetic state, the drums, guitars and vocals dissipate and leave a stale atmosphere before the electronic elements return and provide an opera like symphony. Absolve comes at the end of this transition, carrying on THE CONTORTIONIST‘s high focus of melody over technicality, the song in nature is simple yet effective. The chorus is swift yet carries on from the melodic nature as it swiftly changes back through the verses. Mike Lessard‘s vocals here really shine through, his impressive smooth vocals push through and open up towards the end showcasing his range and distinctive ability.

After another quiet transition Relapse appears through a pulsating synth line, evolving slowly incorporating pianos before returning to progress into a highly technical guitar lick. The drums here are incredible, featuring faint ghost notes throughout an odd time signature as the song opens up into its massive chorus. This song will be loved by any fans of the last album Language, bringing its technical guitar based style into the melodic mixture present in this album. After a lengthy closure, Return to earth echoes through slowly, the second single released is another highlight of the album as it allows a showcase of their sound. The synths bring the song forward slowly alongside the vocals before the rest of the band joins in. The atmosphere created throughout this song is astounding, the melody simply aides In the vivid imagery created through the delayed, reverberated guitars.

Closing the album is Monochrome (Pensive), at nearly 10 minutes long it is the longest song on the album by a large margin and showcases everything throughout this album, be it symphonic atmosphere, melodic guitars or tight percussion. The song feels intense despite the soft and happy nature of the music, the luscious and full fat synths bring the song into complete progression. The guitars here really shine and even feature a guitar solo towards the end before it fades to a close.

This output from THE CONTORTIONIST is highly impressive, their use of melodic and softer vocals is a continuation of elements seen before but expanded and improved. Their technical ability is still easily good enough to rival other bands within the field such as TESSERACT, PERIPHERY or MONUMENTS. What sets them apart is their use of synthesisers and guitars to create atmospheric, almost dream like states which progress naturally throughout a song. The production is smooth and crisp , with punchy bass and drums along with a mature yet crunchy guitar sound that compliments the sound without losing its aggression. This is definitely an album to listen to in its entirety and absorb, its scale alone is huge and after every listen different elements previously missed are revealed. All in all the hype is thoroughly justified, this album is a must have for the open minded metalhead, containing enough hooks and riffs to satisfy any listener.

Rating: 9/10

Clairvoyant - The Contortionist

Clairvoyant is out now via Entertainment One Music/Good Fight Music.