Contrive - The Meaning Unseen
Shock Records
Heavy Metal
11 songs (43:01)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Al

Contrive was founded by Australian metal DJ and drummer Andrew Haug and includes his twin brother Paul on vocals. The band has managed to drum up a considerable amount of hype in their native country’s metal scene thanks in no small part to Haug’s radio and record company connections (He’s also an employee of Shock Records). The band has had two previous EPs and a good amount of touring behind them and with all avenues open for them have unleashed their first full length The Meaning Unseen on the expectant metal community.

The feeling I got when I first digested the aural ‘delights’ on this album is akin to lighting an enormous firework. Giggling in expectation as the fuse burns down in a rather pretty fashion before it goes off…resulting in a few sparks, an unpleasant smell and a noise akin to a cap gun being fired. That excessive analogy aside, I felt more than a little disappointed.

Describing Contrive’s sound is actually more difficult than I would have expected. This is due to the fact that it is comprised of many different syles however these styles haven’t been masterfully weaved together or even kept to separate songs, instead it feels like Haug took influence from Industrial, Metalcore, Emo, Post Hardcore, World Music and Grunge and threw it all in a blender. Instead of then serving this spicy dish fresh to the public he proceeded to eat it and dish up the post digestive result.

Most of the songs are comprised of vocals which switch from vanilla metalcore to vanilla rock and did nothing to confound or interest my jaded eardrums. While the growls are pretty much on par with most of the other stuff out there, the ‘clean’ sections really don’t cut it. Paul Haug is simply not a very good singer and thus can get away with the growls but not the melody. The musicianship is pretty poor comprised of mostly power chord riffs and adequate drumming. There is no real imagination to the songs and I can almost guarantee that there’s nothing here you haven’t heard before. Some of the riffs do creep into the catchy bracket but I found that even these started to grate with repeated listens.

The album starts out with the best track on offer By Way of Choice with a catchy yet uninspiring riff which is vastly overused throughout. The first half of the song vocally is nothing offensive it just sounds like ‘what everyone else is doing’. The second half features Haug’s only decent ‘clean’ vocal performance but is accompanied by music which follows the predictable lines of mainstream emo for my tastes. Prepare to Fall begins with the best riff on the album but is utterly ruined within ten seconds by some abhorrent industrial style spoken vocals and never recovers. A Vigil For The Lost finishes off the weak opening salvo by plodding itself over the five minute mark by way of repetitive palm muted riffs and poor droning vocals combined with typical metalcore chorus parts.

The album continues along the same lines dishing up one disappointing track after another. I do however have to give special mention to the bands foray into ‘world music’ Todorki. The track basically involves utterly bland drumming stretched to over two minutes. That’s it…no interesting instruments (unless of course a cymbal counts) and almost no variation. It has the dubious honour of being the single most pointless track I’ve encountered on an album for a long time.

I wish I had more positive things to say about this album but considering the amount of hype that’s apparently been poured into this in the Australian metal scene makes me a little more unsympathetic to the ‘new band finding their feet’ excuse. I think there’s very little of musical worth to be found here and it all comes off as a band who is unfortunately living up to their moniker. Maybe if the band decided to compress their sound and concentrate on honing one particular style they might produce a better reckoning of themselves but only time will tell.

Killing Songs :
By Way Of Choice the first time you hear it, after that it just becomes repetitive
Al quoted 35 / 100
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There are 2 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:32 pm
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