Contrarian – Polemic (Willowtip Records)Thursday, 12th November 2015
Considering the overuse of the “progressive” tag in the modern metal world, it’s hard to give an apt description and/or give the term some actual relevance. Some bands tout being progressive when they clearly are not, and many truly progressive acts don’t like to be linked to the term. For what it’s worth, Contrarian have not only a good grip on the subject, but also don’t feel the need to oversell themselves with it.
There is a fierce, pummeling side to Contrarian that is effectively balanced by more progressive and atmospheric moments. There are also some elements that will appeal to fans of bands like Atheist and Cynic in their technicality. Everything comes together to provide a death metal album that stays varied and interesting from start to finish. There’s the ominous opening to “Need for Apathy,” intricate melodies of “Foreknowledge,” almost jazzy-playfulness of “Libertarian Manifesto,” and the churning death metal riffage on the title track. The acoustics (such as the ending of “Diogenes at Delphi”) are starkly melodic, but have a great atmospheric effect. But it all comes together without any confusion or mishaps. If there’s one thing that seems a bit vanilla, it’s the persistent low gurgles of vocalist Cody McConnell. Nothing wrong with them in that regard (they are pretty monstrous), but there’s not much in the variety department.
All in all, Polemic is pretty well-written and performed piece of death metal. The balance that they draw with adding variety is a key component that will turn a number of heads, plus there’s the added selling point of having George Kollias as your drummer (not to mention a member of Mithras). A solid introduction.