EP Review: THE CONTORTIONIST Our Bones
Although they certainly have their influences, no band really compares to The Contortionist. The Indiana-based sextet have cultivated a style rooted in the dark, intimidating world of progressive tech-death, and gradually expanded into more ambient environs from the final few tracks of 2010’s Exoplanet onwards. 2014’s Language marked the point at which The Contortionist really came into their own, riddling their third record with serene cleans, thick grooves, and plenty of synth-heavy sections contributed by new keyboardist Eric Guenther, while 2017’s Clairvoyant found the band holding back and refining their sound.
Clairvoyant wasn’t as much of a creative departure as its predecessor, but it was high-quality nonetheless. Stylistic accessibility became a new focal point, although you’d be hard-pressed to call that album’s contents “commercial”, bearing in mind that only two tracks fell significantly short of the five-minute mark. The Contortionist were carefully turning another corner, steering themselves closer to something you could, at a stretch, call radio-friendly.
While The Contortionist’s next full-length record remains under wraps, Our Bones has been touted as a less conceptual and more song-focused EP. This release contains only two fully-realised songs, a two-minute ambient breather called “All Grey”, and a faithful cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ classic “1979”. It’ll be over in less than 15 minutes and is clearly a short-term stopgap aimed at existing fans rather than curious newcomers.
That said, Our Bones is a very cool EP. Advance single “Early Grave” tackles mental health issues, inspiring plenty of grateful online comments, while opener “Follow” sees Mike Lessard unleash some solid screams – and The Contortionist remain as recognisable as ever. Our Bones feels more like a calculated teaser than a definitive statement, but it looks like we can expect greater intensity and some classic songcraft from The Contortionist in the not-too-distant future.