The Contortionist – Exoplanet

Metal has always been a type of music where a little bending of the rules is encouraged, and with that in mind, many talented young acts have been taking advantage of the style to express themselves in new heavy ways. Enter The Contortionist, a five piece progressive metal act that carries that somewhat stigmatic label of ‘deathcore’ around with them, but as one can hear on their debut full-length record ‘Exoplanet’, there is much more going on to them than the label implies. Contrasting claustrophobic technical death metal with wonderfully atmospheric jazz and post-rock moments, ‘Exoplanet’ is a futuristic dive into metal that showcases the skill of some promising young talent.

Many of the younger bands have been attracted to the breakdown-heavy and crushing sounds of deathcore, but to be entirely honest, few are able to pull off the sound with intelligence or taste. The Contortionist is certainly a heavy act by all accounts, but as virtually every track on this debut indicates, there is more going on to them than mere metal riffage. ‘Primal Directive’ and ‘Flourish’ both start out as fairly straightforward technical metal tracks, complete with blistering drums and guitars, and fairly generic growls. As the music goes on though, the band is common to shift into lighter, melodic sections. This is where the great strength of ‘Exoplanet’ lies; in the atmospheric beauty moments where they take it down a notch and contrast their typically heavy metal sound. This is not to say that the metal aspect of The Contortionist is not tight however, just not as unexpected. The Contortionist is very technically complex, and during the most technical moments of their fury, it is often very difficult to predict where the band will head next, even if the sound revolves around the same guitar tones over the course of the record.

The Contortionist does contrast the heavy and light moments throughout the record, and at times, this can start feeling a little formulaic. Luckily, the melodic moments are so atmospheric, and the heavy parts are technical enough to keep the whole thing interesting to the end. The closest comparison or evident influence to the band’s sound would actually be to Cynic, and while that influence certainly does not show in the band’s necessary breakdowns and tech riffs, it is clear in the melodic moments, particularly in the way that a vocorder is used over the clean vocals. Overall, this gives the band a fairly futuristic sound to them that works well with the sci-fi lyrical themes they cover.

An excellent first full-length from this band, and while I’m not finding myself endeared to every sound that the band has to offer, there are incredible parts here that must be heard by progressive metal listeners.


1. Primal Directive (4:01)
2. Flourish (6:21)
3. Expire (3:45)
4. Contact (4:59)
5. Advent (3:17)
6. Vessel (4:57)
7. Oscillator (5:00)
8. Axiom (2:24)
9. Exoplanet I: Egress (4:11)
10. Exoplanet II: Void (3:32)
11. Exoplanet III: Light (5:46)


* Jonathan Carpenter – Vocals, Keys
* Robby Baca – Guitar
* Cameron Maynard – Guitar
* Chris Tilley – Bass
* Joey Baca – Drums


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