Album Premiere: Contrarian – Sage of Shekhinah

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For those who thrive on confrontation.

The name “Contrarian” may call to mind images of a trilby-tipping weirdo sitting in front of a computer playing devil’s advocate online in entirely inappropriate places and citing racial crime statistics from sources that can be charitably called questionable, but our boys here today aren’t here to start fights. No, their take on contrarianism is more from a spiritual approach to the genre in which they play. Prog and tech death are frequently associated with inhumanly precise performance and squeaky clean production, and that is where Contrarian stands in opposition. I’ve lauded their grounded, stripped-back approach to writing and recording in the past, and that continues to hold true with Sage of Shekhinah. They still have that live band feel, rarely layering on extra instrumentation outside of guitar leads, and the ebb and flow of each song evokes a very organic experience, almost like a prog death jam band (and I mean that as a compliment). Says the band about the album:

“We gave it our best on this one. Each of us concentrated on our specific jobs and performing them to the best of our ability. Whether it was songwriting, solos, or orchestration, we feel it all came together for one of our most mature and cohesive albums.”

Simply put and very true. While the core of the album remains true to their longstanding sound, a lilting swirl of harmony wrapped in a cloud of chords and borne on grimy vocals, Sage sees them grow beyond their ’90s prog death roots. They’ve nailed the use of synths on this one, which feel much more essential to the composition than past efforts, and the melodic ideas feel much more their own and unique, tied together with a musical through-line. From the moment it creaks to life in its bizarre intro and accelerates into chaos to its final closing notes, this album creates an experience unlike any the band has created to date. But don’t take my word for it; you can stream it all right here, right now.

Sage of Shekhinah is out Friday, March 17th.
Bandcamp | Willowtip

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