Concert Review: The Contortionist @ Fubar (April 29, 2016)

The Contortionist w/ ENTHEOS and Sleepmakeswaves

Fubar in St. Louis, MO

Friday, April 29, 2016

The variety of styles and sounds that make up the sub-genres of heavy metal means there is probably a band out there that meets an individual’s musical tastes no matter what flavor they prefer. With iPods, iPhones and “clouds” that allow us to access an infinite amount of music at the touch of a button, everyone now has access to that band, album or song that fits their mood immediately. Likewise, among the many reasons why metal is my favorite genre of music is the fact that there is always a band, album or song that perfectly fits my emotions at each point in time. This is what drives me forward, digging deeper into the bowels of the metal community to discover more and more up-and-coming bands to listen to and marvel at. Furthermore, I am inspired by metal tours that feature a little something for everyone in attendance, much like The Contortionist’s current U.S. tour alongside Monuments (whom dropped off prior to the StL date), ENTHEOS and sleepmakeswaves.

Sleepmakeswaves came all the way from Australia to open up this tour with their atmospheric, instrumentally beautiful music which I had just listened to for the first time a few days before the Saint Louis date of the tour. I must admit that I can’t believe this band has existed for several years and I’ve never come across them before. While listening to their Love of Cartography album on YouTube at work, I found that an hour had passed by in what seemed like 5 minutes as I got lost in the peaceful, yet heavy, arrangements and the overall flow of the album. At the show I picked up their …And So We Destroyed Everything record on white vinyl that also included the CD since it was the only music of theirs that I hadn’t snagged on iTunes in the days leading up to the show.

Unfortunately, I missed the majority of their first song “The Stars Are Stigmata” while parking my car and making my into the venue (no local band), but I caught the other three songs and caught up with the band for a few minutes after the show.  Much like my description, the lead bassist/guitarist told me they try to write dreaming music, incorporating distorted guitars, charming violins, vibrant brass instruments and other elements to create an ambient presence similar to bands like Explosions in the Sky and Russian Circles. I highly recommend sleepmakeswaves to anyone who enjoys a break from the standard cookie monster vocals and blast beat drumming from time to time.

  1. The Stars Are Stigmata
  2. In Limbs and Joints
  3. Emergent
  4. Traced in Constellations

Next up was technical death metal super group ENTHEOS, featuring bassist Evan Brewer (ex-The Faceless, ex-Animosity), studio drummer Navene Koperweis (ex-Animals As Leader, ex-Animosity), guitarist Frank Costa (ex-Animosity) and female vocalist Chaney Crabb (Systems; auditioned for Veil of Maya). I remember hearing about Evan Brewer and Navene K starting a new band a while back, but it was on the back-burner of my mind until this tour caught my eye. Upon first listen of their Primal EP  and their debut album, The Infinite Nothing, I was shocked that Chaney, as a female metal vocalist in a music scene full of testosterone, could deliver such crushingly brutal harsh vocals. In her live performances, she assaults the microphone with her intense voice, using her energy and raw talent to ensure onlookers remember what they’ve seen and heard. If you’re interested in checking them out,  ENTHEOS will be back in St. Louis on Friday, July 29 supporting Intronaut alongside Moon Tooth, The Gorge and Quaere Verum at The Demo in The Grove. The intimate setting should prove to be one hell of a good show.

  1. Specific Meaning in a Group of Dots
  2. Primal
  3. New Light 
  4. Chemical Flashbacks
  5. Neural Damage

The final band of the evening was The Contortionist, a band I like to think of as the 2010-decade’s version of progressive metal legends Cynic. Since bringing in Michael Lessard (Last Chance to Reason) in 2013 to handle all vocal responsibilities, the band has evolved from their death-core beginnings into a truly progressive, melodic, mellow sound. For me, personally, this has separated them from other death-core artists such as All Shall Perish and Whitechapel that I often found myself lumping them into back in their Apparition and Exoplanet days. Their last two albums, Intrinsic (2012) and Language (2014), have proven that they’ve learned how to expand their musical reach beyond death metal. The band has shifted the primary focus of their sound from heavy distortion and mostly harsh vocals to precise, perhaps more meaningful (and maybe even spiritual) arrangements with clean choruses that rely heavily on spacious vocal effects.

  1. Integration
  2. Thrive
  3. Solipsis
  4. Causality
  5. Oscillator
  6. The Parable
  7. Primordial Sound
  8. Language I: Intuition
  9. Language II: Conspire
  10. Flourish

While The Contortionist’s change in direction may have driven away some fans of their earlier, heavier music, the amount of fans that continue to show up and support them on tour has not faltered. It seems like the as band continues to experiment and alter their sound, the fans become more interested. This is exciting to see, in my opinion, because so many bands are hesitant to dig deeper and evolve their sound in fear of losing touch with their roots that it seems like album after album they are putting out the same ten-to-twelve tracks that we’ve already heard several times before. I look forward to forthcoming music from The Contortionist, and I commend them for breaking down the walls of  metal music that the metal elitists on the Internet message boards spend so much time building up as they argue with each over which sub-genre a band falls in. Metal is metal; sub-genres unite!

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