Contrastic – Contrastic
Released in 2000, Contrastic’s self-titled debut is notable for being the first deathgrind release from a Czech band to find significant critical and commercial reception. It’s also one of the first albums to combine deathgrind with electronic effects, taking cues from The Locust and The Berzerker (with the latter releasing their debut in the same year). Oh, and there’s the coloring book album artwork – scribbled crayon of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Yeah, Contrastic chose a pretty good way to demonstrate this album’s weirdness right off the bat, to which many RateYourMusic reviews have since attested.1
Contrastic is a ten-track, half-hour album that starts with a brief MIDI-ditty that lapses into deathgrind with a contemporaneous metalcore affect – a thirty-second interval of time that sets up the tone for the rest of the album. The album primarily features open-ended, down-tuned chords. As fitting a circa-2000 album, there are tons of breakdowns (note: this was before the era of Warped tour American metalcore took off), which shows the album’s influences from the American hardcore scene. Contrastic occasionally allows a bit of groove to shine through, as on the melodic guitar of lead of “The Letter” and the mid-track solo on “Vocalic System from the Perspective of a Social Distinctiveness”. Petr Puta (a.k.a. Putti) provides the vocals, and these range from a front-of-the-mouth yell to deep death growls to higher-pitched snarls, similar to that utilized by Jon Chang of Discordance Axis but with a punk delivery.
Without even reconsidering the album artwork, Contrastic shows their goofiness with a sloppy handling of the English language; it’s hard to hear “I Feel Dislike” without thinking of S.O.B.’s “Let’s Go Beach” from thirteen years prior. Tracks like “Chopin’s Ulcerous Colic” and “Sex With Four Walls” show the kind of egregious transgression that grindcore from this era reveled in, often featuring a bit more wackiness than the gore and political themes that fascinated Repulsion or Terrorizer back in the eighties. In addition to MIDI effects, Contrastic utilizes honky-tonk piano (“Chopin’s Ulcerous Colic”), glitched electronica (“Vocalic System from the Perspective of a Social Distinctiveness”), organ (“Unattractive ‘M'”), and IDM that sounds like a discarded experiment for Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come (“About”). The production is surprisingly clear with decent dynamic range, making all of these disparate additions easy to pick out among the death metal crunch.
Contrastic probably isn’t the end-all be-all of millennium extreme metal (or avant-garde in general), but its curious mix of so many weird styles in the context of aggressive music make it not at all a boring listen with the musicianship and songwriting chops to back up the silliness. Contrastic (the band this time) are self-aware, making what could be a one-off joke album something with considerable staying power that rewards the listener instead of laughs at them – as judging by the fact that someone is still writing about it eighteen years later.
1. War Laws? – (3:52)
2. Verschrottung druch Arbeit – (3:02)
3. Sex with Four Walls – (3:46)
4. Y.F.C. – (00:54)
5. Chopin’s Ulcerous Colic – (1:04)
6. The Letter – (3:23)
7. I Feel Dislike – (0:33)
8. Vocalic System from the Perspective of a Social Distinctiveness – (3:10)
9. Unattractive “M” – (1:37)
10. About – (8:24)