Their Worm Never Dies is the newest release from death metal outfit Contrarian. As an album, it boasts musical complexity and polished production. Despite this, it ultimately suffers from monotony brought on by a slightly repetitious formula. That’s not to say there isn’t anything positive to say about it. Credit should be given where it’s properly due. The dual guitar team of Jim Taskias and Brian Mason continually demonstrate their talent for technical composition. A low-end section comprised of bassist Ed Paulson and drummer George Killias of Nile (who also handles vocal duties) also receive praise for their respective contributions on the album. Despite the shortcomings of the release, Contrarian is a reminder that death metal is full of multi-talented musicians—collectively, they’re certainly no exception. While the ensemble is worthy of praise for their attempt at crafting a quality album, they sadly miss the mark this time around.
A phrase that often gets overused with any form of criticism is "style over substance." More often than not, it comes across as a cheap way to describe something that’s flashy on the surface with little lying underneath. Truth be told, there’s no better way to describe Contrarian’s efforts regarding this new release. Again, the band's talent is on display from start to finish. This is material that requires a great deal of experience and finesse. Despite being able to merge death metal with progressive elements, much of the album feels repetitive at times.
“Vaskania (The Evil Eye)” kicks off the album and establishes much of what’s to follow. The song is a mixture of technical riffing, multiple time signatures, and production that allow each member to show off their respective talents. While it might catch the ear of someone during the first time listen, the formula comes to repeats itself during “My Curse” and “Among The Misled.” Standout titles such as “Exorcism” with its clean intro and the intertwining melodies on the title track are the high points of the album. There is some ebb and flow to be found, just not enough.
For a group who are clearly inspired by genre pioneers Death, they seem to be leaning more towards their latter era of releases such as Sound of Perseverance. It’s certainly a far cry from the diverse work found on Human, which showed Schuldiner and company weaving technical masterpieces that were very different than one another. This is easily the greatest flaw that Contrarian struggle with—there just isn’t enough of a difference between the songs to make the album memorable. Genre fans that crave intricate compositions with complex time signatures might enjoy it. Despite any criticism or praise leveled against it, it’s clearly an album that will be polarizing depending on who you ask. I feel very strongly that if the group manages to overcome the obstacles that hinder this particular release, we might have something truly excellent on our hands sometime in the future.