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.
Prepped and pumped from day one, armed with the knowledge of where the best food and spots were, we entered Poble Espanyol. The setlist promised to be stacked with some of my favorite acts and my expectations were high. I was worried about being disappointed but it was just a nagging voice in the back of my head; my spirit was frivolous and I allowed myself to imagine crazy scenarios of far fetched and perfect set-lists, incredible and soul lifting shows and what have you. Those rampant expectations were all met and exceed, as the second day proved to be one of the best musical experiences of my life. Venue, company, performance, crowds, bands, all combined in that perfect, harmonious way which is usually resolved for dreams and erupted on to the scene. But let us start in the beginning and chart this journey towards the end, an unbelievable catharsis at night.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
Is it possible for a post-black metal artist to sit still? Not that we would ever want them to, mind you, but it’s worth pointing out that many of the artists responsible for the creation and popularization of the genre have all moved away from the genre’s nascent sound and…
In 2015 we told you that Chaos Divine had the goods, and today we’re lucky enough to speak with them. Starting off as something of a melodic death metal band, Chaos Divine have gradually evolved into the progressive/alternative rock sound which Australia has become famed for. We speak with them about their fantastic 2015 release Colliding Skies, their experiences with crowd funding, the Australian scene, what it’s like being a band from the isolated west coast of the country and, of course, eggs.
Today we’re joined by none other than Michael Gagen, guitarist extraordinaire at bands you may have heard of, like hazards of swimming naked and (ex-) Arcane, and bands you’ve probably never heard of, like Echotide, agrammeofsoma and more. We don’t know which of those bands you’ve heard of, but we…
Last year I took it upon myself not only to organize and compile our own staff’s AOTY list, but to take things one insane step further and compile a bunch of lists from major metal or metal-covering publications and websites into one MEGA AOTY list to rule them all. Eden and I then analyzed the list and made some (mostly snarky) comments about the metal journalism industry and how they approach these sorts of things. Though I still 100% stand by what we wrote there and the conclusions we drew from it, I was really interested in seeing how well some of them would stand up to another year to use as a data point. Thankfully, this year I had a lot of help in all of our list-making efforts thanks to fellow editor Noyan, who put a ton of work into coming up with the method we ended up using to aggregate our lists (if you haven’t already, you should absolutely read his post delving into the nitty-gritty of that methodology) and then did the actual number-crunching.
Since we publish our individual Top 10 lists right after our main one, you can clearly tell that there are always albums missing for each writer from the general list. We embrace that fault as one of the inevitable limitations of general lists for the collective power such aggregations hold; we wouldn’t give up doing a main list, ever. However, it’s always been a habit of ours to allow each writer to highlight one album from their Top 10 selections that didn’t make the final cut. This allows us more flexibility and the chance to, one last time, shun a light on some of our favorite music from the year. In a fantastic year such as 2016, it’s almost a necessity, as our list, more than ever, misses out on so much of the greatness contained therein.
With our general list for 2016 out of the way, we can now shift the focus from our aggregate opinion to individual ones. Both outlooks have their own merit; the former provides us with an overview of our year in music. However, the latter shines a light on something we’re extremely proud of and that’s the varied and eclectic nature of our staff these days. We used to have a very certain type of music associated with Heavy Blog and while we still have a long way to go, we feel like we’ve done a good job at expanding our palettes and the representation of different kinds of music and metal in our staff. The lists below reflect that; you’ll find black metal, avant-garde, technical thrash metal, hip hop, rap, noise, ambiance, post metal and rock, melodic death metal and much more throughout these lists.
Editor’s note: welcome back to our Heavy Blog Guest List feature where we give some of the bands we covered (or just adored) in 2016 a chance to publish their own Top 10 Albums of 2016. Today, we have A Sense of Gravity, a band whose praises we’ve sung relentlessly over the last two years or so. Fresh off their release of the brilliant “Atrament”, we’ve invited these Seattle locals to share with us what albums moved them in 2016. Below is their unedited list!