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Pyramaze - "Contingent" (CD)

Pyramaze - "Contingent" CD cover image

"Contingent" track listing:

1. Land Of Information
2. Kingdom Of Solace
3. Star Men
4. A World Divided
5. Nemesis
6. Contingent - Part I: The Campaign
7. 20 Second Century
8. Obsession
9. Heir Apparent
10. Contingent - Part II: The Hammer of Remnant
11. Under Restraint
12. The Tides That Won't Change (Feat. Kristen Foss)
13. Symphony of Tears

Reviewed by on April 12, 2017

"'Contingent' represents a new gold standard in power/progressive, with powerful melody lines that draw from the old, but modernized, Queensryche of the late 80’s and that of newer Scar Symmetry..."

It’s would come as no surprise that when you ask a progressive metal fan to list the most important bands in the subgenre today, some of the candidates would be: Dream Theater, Opeth, Tool, and/or Gojira. However, the most important bands in progressive metal today include those that would barely make the second tier of any proghead’s list: Evergrey, DGM, Voyager, Scar Symmetry, and Pyramaze. The latter is experiencing one of the most dramatic shifts in relevance than any band in music today.

Ever since “Disciples of the Sun” thrust this international band into a new stratosphere, Pyramaze has one of the strongest lineup of superstars you can find – all of them brilliant songwriters and masters of modern sound. “Contingent” is not just a continuation of where “Disciples” left off, but weaves a gripping post-apocalyptic concept inspired by current events. Though it may be stylistically similar, “Contingent” leaves “Disciples” in the dust in depth, songwriting, and memorability.

The difference between “Melancholy Beast” through “Immortal” Pyramaze and “Disciples of the Sun” to present Pyramaze is immeasurable; night and day. With the departure of founder Michael Kammeyer, the band completely transformed after the addition of Jacob Hansen and Terje Haroy. This modernization of Pyramaze leaned more progressive without losing any of the power. As I said with my review of “Disciples of the Sun,” it was akin to the clean and melodic side of Scar Symmetry. With “Contingent,” I’ll go as far as saying this band is the 2017 version of Queensryche in its prime. It invokes a similar feel to the excitement leading up to the release of “Operation: Mindcrime” and the sweet payoff on the first listen. It also has this ability to be power, progressive, rock, and hard rock all in one.

One of the most striking things about “Contingent” is the melody lines. Take “Kingdom of Solace,” “Star Men,” and “Heir Apparent” as the strongest examples. The difference in this modern phase of Pyramaze is that the songs are never formulaic and dull (with no disrespect to the early days). The melody isn’t predictable and drab, but exciting and stimulating. One thing I’ve noticed in observing power metal fans is the aversion to change and desire to remain encapsulated in a certain period of style. Pyramaze modernizes, but loses none of the power and certainly none of the catchiness and therefore can equally attract both fans of power and progressive. Check out “Obsession,” “Symphony of Tears” and “Nemesis,” which provide such huge and sweeping emotional feel. “20 Second Century” picks up some old power metal feel and injects a wonderful modern progressive element, not to mention sporting the album’s best chorus. Guest vocalist Kristen Foss shines on a stunning duet in the ballad “The Tides That Won’t Change.”

If I were to pick the one individual that has transformed the band outside of Terje Haroy, it would be Jonah Weingarten. Listening to his songwriting and level of play mature since “Melancholy Beast” has been the best part of this Pyramaze 2.0. He has made the band exponentially better. Most of these fantastic melody lines are driven, supported, and enhanced by his writing and keyboards. Secondly, Jacob Hansen not only provides stellar (and different) guitar play from the origins of Pyramaze, but he is a master of sound, making “Contingent” sound as modern as its predecessor.

Pyramaze is currently a band ahead of its time, a leading force and inspiration for formulaic power metal bands to follow if they seek a blueprint for change that would keep all the melody and power and forge relevant material for forward thinking music fans. “Contingent” represents a new gold standard in power/progressive, with powerful melody lines that draw from the old, but modernized, Queensryche of the late 80’s and that of newer Scar Symmetry and songwriting that bursts with intensity and relevance. Pyramaze 2.0 arrived with “Disciples of the Sun,” but solidified its stake in a new wave of modern power/progressive with “Contingent.”

Highs: One of the finest examples of forward thinking modern power/progressive metal.

Lows: Nothing here for any fan of extreme metal.

Bottom line: Pyramaze continues its ascent of the mountain of modern power metal, but its "Contingent" on your listen!

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)