Jan 032023


This round-up of new music will be short, but of course I think it’s also sweet. I have just enough time for three recommendations before my gilded carriage of a morning turns into the rotting pumpkin of my day job.


Until I looked I had forgotten how many premieres we’ve done for Contrarian‘s releases (four of them, going back to 2015). What I didn’t forget was how head-spinning their music has been, and so I jumped at the chance to listen to the first single from Contrarian‘s new album Sage of Shekhinah. The remarkable cover art by Guang Yang just sweetened the pot. Continue reading »

Nov 172020


There’s a lot to be said about the new Contrarian album Only Time Will Tell that we’re premiering today, from its concept to its composition and its execution. In a nutshell, those subjects involve heavy-metal escapism, wildly adventurous ideas, and extreme virtuosity — and all those aspects of the music are connected.

The album’s escapist qualities are certainly evident in its layout, artwork, and the lyrics through which the narrative unfolds. The artwork is lavish, and invokes the kind of intersection between fantasy, science fiction, and metal that has been a persistent feature of the genre for decades (if you’re uncomfortable being a nerd, then you’re a sub-par metalhead!).

And in the tale itself, Contrarian again use the adventures of their recurring protagonist “the cloaked contrarian” to convey ideas involving philosophy, theology, and science — this time by sending him on a travel through time in an effort to eradicate past sins and to bring about healing, while also raising the question whether time does indeed heal all wounds. Continue reading »

Dec 212018


As their name suggests, Contrarian refuse to be hemmed in by convention. Their vision of death metal as revealed in the new album Their Worm Never Dies pays homage to hallowed traditions, perhaps most especially the more progressive-minded stylings of the great Chuck Schuldiner, but their intricate compositions take the sounds in unexpected directions, creating an alchemical amalgam of visceral viciousness, eye-popping technicality, brain-whirling progressive extravagance, and mesmerizing atmosphere.

Such an unusual and demanding formulation might strain the capabilities of most musicians to the breaking point, but in the case of Contrarian, this convergence of sounds seems entirely natural and fluid, a forward-thinking approach that’s convincing even if eccentric — an inspired evolution of  ’90s progressive death metal into the modern age. Not surprisingly, it’s the kind of achievement that wouldn’t have been possible without a shared vision among the band’s members, and the possession of veteran talent, which is what Contrarian’s line-up brings to the table. Continue reading »

Jul 032017


Contrarian’s 2015 debut album Polemic opened a lot of eyes across the breadth of metaldom, introducing listeners to this New York band’s remarkable technical skills and inventive, outside-the-box approach to song-writing. We had the pleasure of premiering the title track to Polemic, and today is like welcoming back an astonishingly impressive and eccentric old friend, because we again have a Contrarian premiere for you. This is a lyric video for a track called “Transcend the Mundane” from the band’s second album, To Perceive Is To Suffer, which Willowtip Records has scheduled for release on July 28.

As on the first album, Contrarian’s line-up again features guitarist Jim Tasikas and bassist Ed Paulsen (both also members of Delirium Endeavor), lead guitarist Brian Mason (Sulaco), and drummer extraordinaire George Kollias from Nile. On this new album, however, George Kollias also handles vocals. Continue reading »

Sep 152015



Today we bring you the premiere of the title track to Polemic, the debut album by New York’s Contrarian, which is due for release on November 20 by Willowtip Records.

In a musical landscape overflowing with technical death metal bands, and a similarly large number of extreme metal bands displaying the “progressive” label based on little more than occasional ambient interludes in the midst of all the pummeling, it takes something special to stand out. Contrarian stand out.

Much as their name signifies, Contrarian’s approach to songwriting is unusual, and unusually good. To be sure, “Polemic” displays the kind of intricate, high-speed technical skill that opens eyes wide. Continue reading »

Oct 022014


(Austin Weber provides this first part of a multi-part round-up focusing on recommended new releases.)

It’s been a good while since I got down to it and churned out a round-up article here at NCS. For months now I’ve had a massive list of bands to put in an article, but have been too weighed down by life and loss to finish it. As I attempt to accurately assess the current state of my life, things have again taken a trip to implosion town, and so many of the things I held dear or grew accustomed to bit the dust yet again. Of course, this happens in all our lives, so I try to be realistic in deconstructing the ills inherent in all our realities.

I find some comfort in these times of rebuilding, though, with the hope that at least, in thinking deeply and reflectively, I may yet again find a different way forward that I had never imagined possible. Even in the darkest and dumbest places my mind goes to, music guides me and temporarily frees and harnesses this incorrigible mixture of hyperactivity and depression into a more passive and calm state.

Typically I would abstain from such personal and soul-baring words, yet inasmuch as I know myself, I am not ashamed of exploring and expounding upon what it is to be human, full of frailty and weakness — to realistically accept frailty yet not dwell too deeply in its realms.

Like past installments, the music that follows trends toward death metal, yet lest I box myself in, bands of other stripes are also included. As usual, many hours spent scouring the depths of Metal-Archives and other avenues has delivered in a big way for me. There’s a lot of killer music to explore, so this is going to be broken up into several installments. This is the first. Continue reading »