Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Contrarian - "Polemic" (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/11/2015
Label: Willowtip Records



Far more nuanced than Nile, this is a tour de force of modern tech death, done in a way which recalls old school tech death(!). No blasting, no mindlessly labyrinthine and continuously brutal riffage. What you get is jazz infused death metal with the kind of subtlety not heard for quite some time.


“Polemic” CD//DD track listring:

1). Polemic
2). Need for Apathy
3). Retrieval
4). Foreknowledge
5). Predestined
6). Libertarian Manifesto
7). Diogenes at Delphi
8). Nothing is Everything

Contrarian is:

Jim Tasikas | Guitars
Ed Paulsen | Bass
Brian Mason | Guitars
Leon Macey | Guitars (Lead)
Cody McConnell | Vocals
George Kollias | Drums

The Review:

Death metal- of the progressive/tech infused kind is what you will find on this record which features the inimitable George Kollias on drums (whose right foot speed is now up to 280bpm, apparently!). It will come as a surprise to none of you that  the production is crystal clear, the bass work sublime and jazz inflected and the vocals very low indeed (think Nile). The opening title track sets the tone, albeit with some blast type sections, while “Need for Apathy” and “Retrieval” further cement the way the record is going to be (there are some interesting sections therein which may surprise you a little, too).

The likes of “Foreknowledge” and “Predestined” don't stray too far from the Atheist meets Nile meets late period Death template, while the excellent “Libertarian Manifesto” features some fantastic playing from Kollias and is a real stand out. Excellent lead work makes this shape shifting track an absolute joy. Far more nuanced than Nile, this is a tour de force of modern tech death, done in a way which recalls old school tech death(!). No blasting, no mindlessly labyrinthine and continuously brutal riffage. What you get is jazz infused death metal with the kind of subtlety not heard for quite some time.

“Diogenes at Delphi is complex and dreamy, with swathes of synth here and there and excellent use of dynamics. The time signatures stray well outside of 4:4 and the track meanders along a very twisted path indeed. The riff at the four minute mark is excellent, by the way, as is the clean and airy section that closes. “Nothing is Everything” will be familiar to anyone who listened to “Individual Thought Patterns”... as it is a cover from that absolute classic of death metal. A finer album to find in the genre is a hard task (“Symbolic” just pips it, in my humble opinion) and Contrarian really do the song justice. The reproduction is faithful with DiGiorgio and Hoglan's parts being admirably laid down. The vocals go low, in keeping with the rest of the album, and the guitars are, forgive me, set to stun.

I enjoyed the record hugely- non aggressive death metal with more than a nod to Atheist, Cynic and Death, played by some of the best in the business. I recommend giving it a go, even if you have never liked death metal or lost interest in the genre at some point in the 1990's. It will take you back and it may even take you to some new musical territory as well.

“Polemic” is available here

FFO: Nile, Atheist, Cynic, Death

Band info: facebook | official | twitter

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