When it comes to music reviews, I believe that the following disclaimer is a double-edge sword: “I don’t normally listen to this genre.” Why would that matter? Maybe that would let me off the hook if I gave Pyramaze’s new CD “Contingent” a foul review; perhaps I just don’t get it. Conversely, if I’m blown away by it, I can humble myself and honestly say I have become enlightened, thank goodness. I jumped at the chance to review this to see what the result would be.
The top-shelf production is immediate as is the melodic metal which initially hit me as “power metal” but that first impression has changed over dozens of listens. This is an extremely solid melodic metal CD and should not be missed. Vocalist Terje Harøy has written earworm-quality melodies which do burrow into the mind. His tone brings to mind Russell Allen of Symphony X. After the first few repeated listens, I find myself thinking “Oh good, this song! Oh good, now this song!” which as a listener is a treat – I’m not just skipping forward to a few tracks and forgetting the rest.
Another benefit of “Contingent” is the sequencing and pacing of the CD. Different tempo and dynamics are used to craft a journey, not just “some recording.” Keyboards of Jonah W. support the riffs and trade solos without overpowering the proceedings. Tracks one and two provide a great introduction then “Star Men” presents us with churning rock and a huge, memorable chorus. Between songs there are segues that are important in the overall flow of this concept – this is more of a 60 minute presentation than it is a collection of 13 songs and the synth symphony and atmospheric sound effects keep that front and center.
Jacob Hansen and Toke Skjønnemand adeptly handle guitars (Jacob recorded bass as well) and while these riffs are heavy and somewhat-memorable, there still is room to write even better riffs next time.
My opinion is that, as good as the first half of Contingent is, the second half kicks ass. Track 8, “Obsession” has the best harmony-note selection in the chorus and drummer Morten Gade Sørensen’s cymbals shine in syncopated style. “Heir Apparent” kicks off with a thick, chugging rhythm then enters into a heavy, pulsating verse and then opens up into a gigantic arena-ready chorus with great harmonies; quite possibly the best track of them all.
The icing on this cake hits me on the final track “Symphony of Tears.” Contender for song of the year I’m telling you. It’s the masterful confluence of rhythmic, churning verses / pristine pre-choruses / tight, syncopated drumming / double-time, earworm-quality chorus melodies / and the magic is that when the song ends, I’m tempted to press play again, right away. What happens then? “Oh good, this song! Oh good, now this song!”
When it is all said and done, the MVPs are Terje’s vocal melodies and Morten’s uber-solid drumming. I have left out the conceptual nature of Contingent as I don’t have access to the lyrics, but I believe this is a situation where repeated listens and peeling-away the layers of the concept will just make this CD even better over time.
1. Land Of Information
2. Kingdom Of Solace
3. Star Men
4. A World Divided
6. Contingent – Part I: The Campaign
7. 20 Second Century
9. Heir Apparent
10. Contingent – Part II: The Hammer of Remnant
11. Under Restraint
12. The Tides That Won’t Change
13. Symphony of Tears
Label: Inner Wound Recordings