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Contra - Deny Everything

Deny Everything
by Gabriel “Svrtr” Zimmerman at 10 October 2017, 12:06 PM

Stoner metal has always been somewhat odd in my mind. An off shoot of traditional heavy metal with extremely groove intensive passages, it is often hailed as the sound of a generation of past times back before music videos were on TV and the SNES was the go to gaming console, times of extreme nostalgia for some. It is with this that I introduce CONTRA, a Cleveland based stoner metal band who has just released their first album “Deny Everything.” As well, in true stoner metal fashion there are grooves and accompanying riffs aplenty. Without further ado it is better to just dive right in.

The album opens with “Human Buzzsaw”, and it shines in showing what can be expected from the album amidst its well-placed and beat intensive riffs. There are also masterfully made solos that perfectly evoke the closest sound that could be thought of as the ideal for stoner metal. However, throughout the production quality of the bass and drums is lacking and or they seem heavily muffled in favor of the guitars. This is rather a shame, as the cymbals among other things always feel as if they are played through a pillow. As well, while some may view Larry Brent’s vocals with endearment, I feel that most will not. There are harsh vocals (and with what I am about to say harsh words) but what he presents feels like a throat with health issues. While in this song it can match at times, as soon as “Snake Goat” rolls around it is hard to miss what is meant. There is almost no variance in his vocals and it is largely the exact same tone with slight differences in utterance and no flavor to his method of delivery. The song beyond this has some nice riffs, but it is largely far more repetitive than the previous song that creates a sense of indifference. After 30 seconds or so it just begins to meld together. Instrumentally “Altered Beast” is far more interesting, though perhaps it should be expected of an instrumental. However, throughout its 3 and a half minute span it always remains interesting and keeps repetition that detracts from the song to a minimum.

There also comes problems that arise more and more quickly as the album continues on. The album managed to keep a sense of momentum going until it reached “Humanoid Therapy”, which began to change its pace in ways that act as if the song is not moving at all and it drags on far longer than necessary. The second half of the album also creates a looming sense Deja Vu with songs that seem more and more to take from other earlier songs in the album and combine them into something new made of parts that are already known. These problems repeat multiple times, so the number of problems is in some regards somewhat limited but still not excusable. It is here I shall end this review, but to summarize the vocals are lacking, the drums and bass are toned down far too heavily, and repetition or the destruction of momentum are common problems. Overall it is not a bad first album per se, but it comes at a time and in a genre that a fair few might view as limited and by and large will likely come off as just another stone in the rough and not a shiny diamond.

Songwriting 4
Originality 4
Memorability 4
Production 5

2 Star Rating

1. Human Buzzsaw
2. Snake Goat
3. Altered Beast
4. The Gorgon
5. Humanoid Therapy
6. Son of Beast
7. Bottom Feeder
8. 100 Hand Slap
9. Dr Goldfoot
10. Shrimp Cocktail
Adam Horwatt - Bass, Guitars
Aaron Brittain - Drums
Chris Chiera - Guitars
Larry Brent - Vocals
Record Label: Robustfellow Productions


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