Few bands in the modern prog scene are as controversial as The Contortionist. Despite their growing success, the ongoing transition in sound from trailblazers of progressive deathcore to settling into a niche of post-rock and prog influenced alt metal has proven to be divisive among their otherwise dedicated fanbase. Although there were clear and deliberate steps away from deathcore between their celebrated debut Exoplanet and its well-received follow-up Intrinsic, the true turning point for The Contortionist came in 2014’s Language, and it’s no wonder given the lineup overhaul that occurred at that time. Vocalist and keyboard player Jonathan Carpenter and bassist Chris Tilley amicably left following the Intrinsic touring cycle for personal reasons, with the band picking up Last Chance To Reason’s Michael Lessard (vocals), ex-Scale The Summit’s Jordan Eberhardt (bass), and keyboardist Eric Guenther. With the band now half-consisting of new members and a trajectory towards prog already heavily hinted at, it’s no wonder that Language wound up being such a departure.
Pop punk is a genre that has in many ways stagnated, if you’re a pessimist, or coalesced and solidified into its more permanent sound, if you’re an optimist. That hasn’t stopped new bands from forming and taking their own stab at that sound as it can vary just enough to appeal to a variety of musicians and fans of very, very different things. One end of pop punk might favor the hyperspeed riffing and snotty vocals of NOFX and their lineage, while another side might gravitate towards the mid-tempo guitars and syrupy sweet vocal styling that was more in line with Green Day and the back catalog of bands who found a home on the now defunct Lookout! Records during their ‘90s heyday.