The Contortionist – ‘Our Bones’

By Dave Stewart

There are bands littered throughout metal’s sub-genres that continuously evolve, forever developing and moulding their sound into something new, never alienating their previous material. The Contortionist are one of those bands, sitting atop a varied yet fluid discography of music that could only have been composed by them. 2019 sees them release a teeny tiny EP entitled ‘Our Bones’ – four tracks of stunning aural wizardry that sees them step away from their usual tales of ebb and flow to focus on subjects a little closer to home.

The lead single from the EP ‘Early Grave’ is a prime example of that change in focus. The song was written as an expression of gratitude to their fans, acknowledging the stories of those that have suffered from heartache and depression but found strength and safety within the bands music. The chorus lyrics are incredibly powerful, especially vocalist Michael Lessard’s cries of “my only hope is that you choose to stay” which the music surrounding it elevates, all the while carrying an underlying sense of darkness and aggression.

‘Follow’ is by far the most hostile song here, boasting catchy technical riffing from guitarists Robby Baca and Cameron Maynard, complex yet memorable drum patters courtesy of drummer Joey Baca and the first screamed vocals that we’ve heard from Lessard since their ‘Language’ record. ‘All Grey’ is like the juxtaposition for that, comprising delicate and striking instrumentation that all come together to create a lullaby, completely numbing the senses and allowing you to sink into a completely calm state of mind.

The EP closes with a cheeky little cover of ‘1979’, originally performed by The Smashing Pumpkins. The cover is flawless and almost identical to the original, the band opting to pay tribute to the song rather than mould it into something different. The guitar tone is only made more distorted in places to accent the changes from section to section, while the drums are spot on, as is the bass and background instrumentation – even Lessard’s vocal delivery is similar, taking characteristics from Billy Corgan’s vocal display and mimicking them with his own.

This is without a doubt the shortest offering that The Contortionist have ever released. The final song on their last record ‘Clairvoyant’ is almost as long as the entire EP. But the length isn’t important – it’s the content, and that content is simply beautiful. Their attention to detail and musicianship is second to none, every section flowing into one another with a real sense of belonging. Lessard’s vocals are especially impressive as he demonstrates his range by stretching it to its limits throughout, able to calm and soften his tones as effortlessly as he’s able to project and soar them. An alluring, emotionally driven soundbite from one of modern progs most impressive bands.

DAVE STEWART

Three more album reviews for you

LIVE: Cult Of Luna / Brutus / A.A. Williams @ Stylus, Leeds

LIVE: Tiger Army @ Club Academy, Manchester

LIVE: Ceremony / High–Vis / Child’s Pose @ New Cross Inn, London