Sound — 9
"Intrinsic" (2012), The Contortionist's second studio album takes a further step back from the deathcore roots and solidifies a more prominent role into the progressive metal genre. The guitarists Robby Baca, and Cameron Maynard have honed their technical skills since the last album, "Exoplanet", and it is quite evident in Intrinsic. It's not in-your-face guitar wankery, but instead tasteful complexity. They definitely show how talented they are at their skill. Often slower, clean, ambient bridges build suspension that lead into heavier, brisk breakdowns that are nothing short of satisfactory. These heavier cadences are not your typical open, palm muted guitar chugs with fourth note cymbal splashes. Instead they are rhythmically intelligent. One thing that I wasn't fond of at was first was the guitar tone. After a few listens, I felt it just wasn't as warm as prior albums. The tone in Intrinsic is a lot more edgy and sharp and provides much dissonance at times. Christopher Tilley on bass is very warm, aggressive, and grabs hold of the loose ends of the songs. The incorporation of the keyboard is subtle and is mixed in well. Jonathan Carpenter's clean vocals in accordance with his keyboard add the otherworldly feel that The Contortionist has become known for. One thing that The Contortionist has done album after album is start songs off slow and progress into an ambitious close. They have become masters of finishing songs in an epic manner. Songs like "Feedback Loop" and "Geocentric Fusion" provide such great buildup that by the time the song has reached its climax, you're well engulfed in the rhythm of all the instruments incorporated. Songs like "Causality" and "Solipsis" bring the heavy deathcorish elements that has been seen plenty in The Contortionist's past. They seem to have incorporated more djent-like sounds in Intrinsic as opposed to "Exoplanet". "Sequential Vision" and "Cortical" show off Robby Baca and Cameron Maynard's technical prowess while allowing drummer Joey Baca to match the technicality. "Dreaming Schematics" and "Anatomy Anomalies" are written in a simpler manner but are punchy enough to bring the energy despite once again, the songs' slow starts.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics seem to play a concept off the term "Intrinsic", which in anatomy (yes, anatomy lesson here) means belonging to or lying within a given part. I felt the lyrics revolve being open-minded and discovering oneself in the universe as well as recreating their own self based off of thoughts and findings. The Contortionist has done these ideas similar to this before but it works for them so they don't need to expand beyond this. From "Holomovement": "How primitive are we still? / Widen your peripheral/ Socialized rules scale back the progression". From "Feedback Loop": "Maybe I'll try to find a new plane in which to exist, it's not far it's been there waiting this whole time." From "Sequential Vision": "Now we question the biological rhythm, the flowing of information received/ It all breaks down to this one projection / Last particle of the sequence movements too small to be detected / I've organized your surroundings". From "Anatomy Anomalies": "Implementing impulse to virtual selection, prefect dreams believed / Redefine the conscious mind, implants in the cortices."
Overall Impression — 9
"Intrinsic" is The Contortionist's introduction in the progressive metal world. "Exoplanet" got their feet wet, but "Intrinsic" was an all out effort. The sound has mellowed out a bit and there is a lot more balance between the clean and harsh vocals. The djenty-deathcore riffs are mostly forgettable and overshadowed by the complex riffing used in the sections of songs. I liked that the band used all original material instead of recycled songs like previous albums. The Contortionist seems to be firing on all cylinders as they have progressed into a newer sound. It reminded me of a fusion of older The Contortionist and Cynic. Although this album is quite impressive, I just didn't find it as favorable as "Exoplanet", but a must buy regardless.