The Meaning Unseen
Leaps and bounds above their previous releases
Contrive are the brainchild of twin brothers Paul (vocals/guitar) and Andrew (drums) Haug. After forming in 1999, the duo underwent a difficult struggle to secure a bassist before Tim Stahlmann joined the fold. The trio released their debut EP, Finally, in 2001 and its follow up, Prosper, in 2003 to mixed reviews. Along the way, they secured support slots for various metal acts including Machine Head, Skinlab, Destruction and Sepultura. After such a long time between drinks, the trio have finally released their debut long player, The Meaning Unseen, which is sure to surprise many with the calibre of the material on it. On top of that, they teamed up with acclaimed metal mixer Fredrik Nordström (The Haunted, Arch Enemy) to thicken up and polish the trio's sound.
Solid, driving riffs kick off the album's opener, By Way Of Choice, which features an almost Entombed like death 'n' roll vibe and a simple punk inspired chorus. Paul's effect laden vocals on Prepare To Fail and to a small extent the music behind them as well at times sound reminiscent of our own The Mark Of Cain. Smooth bass tones and a gentle guitar riff kick off A Vigil For The Lost which showcases Paul's vocals perfectly as he swaps effortlessly between clean vocals and an aggressive style that suits the amped up chorus on one of the most dynamic tracks of the album. The soothing sounds of the acoustic At Ease are soon forgotten as the powerful Shifting Focus kicks into gear along the aggressive up tempo lines of the album's lead track.
The menacing title track is surprisingly thick with guitar tones that carry the track as Paul Haug screams in angst. Watch out for the breathing space towards the latter part of the track as it builds towards a thundering climax! In what is possibly the biggest departure for the trio, Beside Yourself is dominated by Paul's impressive vocal performance throughout and is backed by the perfectly weighted rhythm work of Stahlmann and Andrew Haug. Whilst traditional Japanese Taiko drumming may seem out of place on a metal album, Andrew's work on Todoroki lays some ground work for the intro to highlight of the album, Divided. The track, which is clearly the strongest and most aggressive on here, is driven by a simple and punishing main riff and a chorus that you can't help but scream along to at the top of your voice! Contrive show some respect to the old school with their well executed brutal cover of Armoured Angel's classic track Communion (from the 1990 demo of the same name) before the album finishes off on the slightly weaker Relate which, whilst still very Contrive like overall, it just doesn't quite have the punch of some of the other tracks on the album.
At times, The Meaning Unseen still presents elements of the Contrive we are used to from their previous two releases. For most part however, this hardworking trio has elevated themselves away from the criticisms of the past with well crafted and dynamic songs that are simple enough to make them both memorable and heavy at the same time. This should be the release that puts them on the Aussie metal map.
(Independent/Shock Records Distribution)