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Contrarian – Sage of Shekhinah

Sage of Shekhinah
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 19 January 2023, 5:56 AM

From Bandcamp, “True to their namesake, CONTRARIAN continue to defy the odds and steer the head of Progressive/Technical Death Metal towards a more organic approach. On “Sage of Shekhinah,” the band counteracts genre norms with nuanced composition and subtle production.” The album has seven songs.

The title track is the first. The opening sequence features a Middle Eastern feeling, until the main riff comes pounding in. Ed’s bass line is amazing…he is all over the pace. The riffs are dissonant and aggressive and the vocals are a little low in the mix. “In Genenna” has another chaotic sound. But listen carefully…there are connections in the music even though the constant meters shifting abounds. If nothing else, the band is clearly talented. “Ibn al Rawandi” begins with a melodic sequence that transitions rather abruptly to a technical one. The lead guitar breaks however usher the melody back in, and I wish there were a little more of these.

“Guide for the Perplexed” might sum up the album for people not used to this kind of music. The chaos is hard to cut into. It’s like a thick leather hide that a blade just will not penetrate. At this point, I am not sure where the album is headed. “Zabur of Satfiyah al Shamal” has just a bit more of a linear pattern but the structure is still very loose. For me, the band focuses more on their abilities, which isn’t a bad thing. As they say, if you got it, flaunt it. “Apollonius of Tyana” continues the tight sound. How can an album be so tight and so loose at the same time? I am not sure, but take in this one and you will see how.

“A Madman from Island Patmos” closes the album. It really has everything…melodic passages, harmonic elements, and super-tight stops and starts on a dime. The vocals almost seem like an afterthought, because of how technical the music is. Overall, there is no denying the band’s ability, that is for sure. But this highly technical sound creates a problem for the audience in terms of finding those who fit this niche. Like many bands, however, I am sure they don’t care and just enjoy making the kind of music that they like. It’s sharp, and demands every second of your attention.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Sage of Shekhinah
2. In Gehenna
3. Ibn al Rawandi
4. Guide for the Perplexed
5. Zabur of Satfiyah al Shamal
6. Apollonius of Tyana
7. A Madman from Island Patmos
Ed Paulsen – Bass
Jim Tasikas – Guitars, Songwriting
Brian Mason – Guitars
Alex Cohen – Drums
Jakob Sin – Vocals
Record Label: Willowtip Records


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