Over the past couple album releases, The Contortionist’s transcendence between the various sub-genres of metal and rock has been the topic of many discussions amongst their fans. The shift from their initial progressive sound to a more melodic and harmonizing style, along favoring almost entirely clean vocals, has left many wondering where the band sits along the spectrum. Are they djent? Progressive? Hardcore? Or, does it even matter? Regardless of their genre label, The Contortionist’s newest EP, Our Bones, is a beautiful product of their eclectic style, and the gravity of each song is great enough to pull in everyone, from fans of the old-school to die-hards, to the recently introduced.
The opening song “Follow” is a prime example of the blended genres. It’s as if the band decided to throw a little bit of everything that they have recently come to be known for; melodic yet hard-hitting riffs with an imbalanced mixture of hauntingly clean and hard vocals, all slammed into one song and it works out perfectly. While the cocktail of different musical choices mixes well, the meaning of the song expresses an inverse idea. The exact subject can obviously be left up to interpretation. However, the overarching message seems to be a warning about allowing external influences to intentionally move us away from what we know to be right and true by playing on our emotions. “Blinded, distracted, we can’t even see/ They drag us along whichever way they please/ They go where they know they’ve got us by our bones/ We follow, they lead.”
However, before the song even gets to the chorus, a grim but affirmative outcome on the issues sets the listener on the right path while asking a simple question: “Still I’d rather be buried with my pride/ Is it wrong if I’m right?”
The pre-release single, “Early Grave,” takes up the second spot on the album and shows us what happens when those influences become overwhelming. The quick transition of heavy riffs to a melancholic chorus is representative of the progressive turmoil and abrupt collapse we all go through when the voices from the world around are constantly telling us how to think and act, and who or what we should be. The solution to drown out the noise is often an even more difficult choice to slip into non-existence. However, the repeated chorus and singularly inspiring bridge offer a hopeful alternative. “Don’t be too proud to say that you are alone, lost and afraid/ When you’re about to break, just know your doubt’s misplaced” … “And, I know it feels like you’re drowning these days/ And, I know you question if it’s too late/ And, my only hope is that you choose to stay/ ‘Cause you’re more than/ more than an early grave.”
Sadly, for many, the aforementioned sense of hope and comfort is never heard and in its place, the sentiment surrounding the third song,“All Grey,” fills the air. “You’d say, ‘I wonder how death found me?/ And, how I might not be the worst/ But I’d always be your first.’/ These days only grey surrounds me as I watch all you were slowly fall into the earth/ All Greys.”
The song is short, simple, and somewhat out of character for the band in that the prowess of the guitar is overshadowed by the angelic keyboard and sampling. However, it’s the timing and placement of the song within the album, and the duality of its lyrics, that are so powerfully poignant to both those that have been overtaken by their burdens as well as the ones still fighting, yet have now lost what was once close to them. The pain may be gone, but what fills the void is of no consolation.
Instead of closing on a sad note, the last song on the album brings it back up from the depths with the cover of, what the band has described as a beautiful coming-of-age song that reflects upon youth and innocence, “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins. The new rendition changes little, if anything, from the original song, with a single exception. After the nostalgic intro, you’re expecting to hear Billy Corgan’s iconic nasally voice cry out over the instruments. But instead, Lessard’s smooth vocals seamlessly meshes with every chord and chorus. Prompting you to question, as blasphemous as it may be, whether The Contortionist’s version is better than its predecessor. Regardless of your answer, the song is definitely a welcome and refreshing break from the somber tone of the rest of the album.
In comparison to the band’s discography, this album is “sadly” short, but, oh, so sweet. Be sure to listen to each song for yourself. The album is available and can be easily heard on most major music outlets. And also, treat yourself to a live experience on any of the upcoming tour dates with Coheed and Cambria. You will not regret it!
10/14 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
10/15 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
10/17 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
10/18 – St. Petersburg, FL @ Mahaffey Theater
10/19 – Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House Of Blues