Album Review

The Contortionist - Language

Released September 16, 2014
Chad W. Lutz
I was scanning through iTunes' new releases after redeeming a gift card when I came across Language by The Contortionist. I liked the cover of the album, which features a tree sitting idly beneath a giant, geometric, red moon. I honestly thought I was picking up an acoustic album filled with sad love songs and ballads about watching the rain fall, but I was dead wrong. What I found, instead, was very much so an ode to what metal can and should be.
There were moments when I was listening to Language, the band's third studio album released on eOne and Good Fight Music September 16, 2014, that I forgot I was even listening to a metal act. The opening notes of the first song on the nine-track album, "The Source", fell right into my misconceptions about the LP. They were light, airy, and sullen. The harmonies and melodies sounded like the kind of music massage parlors play to help you relax before they destroy your shoulder blades. But the sound worked as an incredible intro that lead into the rest of the album. And then the pulse quickens, and the albums dives headlong into the title track split into two parts: "Language I: Intuition" and "Language II: Conspire".
Separately, the songs stand alone as beautiful pieces of music elaborately woven together with off time signatures, plucky, ethereal guitar picking, excellent use of pedal effects and looping, and, yes, grind core screaming. The drums bang out in staccato against the melodies, creating an odd sort of warp. During the first part of the two-part epic, I felt like I was playing Midnight Club and was racing through the streets of San Francisco at night in a boosted Porsche. Yeah, buddy. If music can do that, than I'd say Mission Accramplished, no matter the style or genre.
Hailing from Indianapolis, the band features six members, including the brother duo of Joey Baca (drums) and Robby Baca, and self-applies a mathematical feel to their music. The arrangements are apparent, with uses of 13/4 time signatures in parts of Language, which are reminiscent of Tool, and maybe even a little of Primus. Each band member shines on the album, with solos of all instruments abound. There are some serious metal moments on the second "Language" as well as on "Thrive". Speaking of "Thrive", I only have two words for you: Bass Pedal. As in, slam that shit, and Joey Baca does. Hard.
Despite superb musicianship, some of the songs on Language are a little hard to follow. The erratic signatures and bleeds into subsequent songs had me wondering where the Hell I was at in the track listing at times, and not in a good way. All of the songs were able to recover in some way, shape, or form, however, and were, moreover, entertaining and even downright groovy. It was hard to tell what most of the lyrics were throughout the album, as well. But, what else is new? It wouldn't be metal if you could. Fans of metal and music enthusiasts alike are going to play this album on repeat, given its hybrid nature and genre-bending sounds, but casual listeners will probably pass this one over.