Pyramaze has made a career out of defying expectations and being impossible to anticipate. With constantly shifting styles and revolving door vocalists, each new album promises something totally different. Enigmas that they are, it still seemed they’d found a near-perfect sound and a killer front man on 2015s excellent Disciples of the Sun, and since it was such a compelling, addicting album, I hoped they would tinker sparingly with their approach when it came time for a sequel. Alas, it was clear early on the band wanted to take what they did on Disciples and expand on it ten-fold for Contingent, going for a kind of post-apocalyptic conceptual piece with cinematic soundtrack elements and a greater symphonic presence. The result is easily the most ambitious (and deadly serious) thing they’ve done, and boasts some amazing songs, but it also has issues that hamper their lofty goals and send the album crashing back to Earth like the Icarus of olde.

Things begin in a deceptively familiar way with “Land of Confusion,” which takes the style heard on Disciples and leaves it largely untouched save for a greater symphonic sheen. The ear-catching hooks and melodies are still there and the band deftly mixes a metal grit and edge with accessibility and a very memorable chorus. The cinematic flourishes first appear in the early moments of “Kingdom of Solace” which is soaked in symphonics and dramatic prog-touches. The end result sounds a whole lot like fellow Danes Anubis Gate and this influence recurs throughout the albums 1. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, and the song works quite well.

The high water mark comes with the three-song run beginning with “Star Men” and concluding with “Nemesis,” with all three tracks showing Pyramaze in top songwriting form. “Star Men” is a grand and engaging tune that feels expansive and larger-than-life without becoming bombastic or overwrought. Semi-new singer Terje Haroy blows the doors off with an amazing and emotional vocal performance, the guitar-work is first-rate and the solo is beautiful and poignant.  “A World Divided” is nearly as good, with emotive singing and a big, killer chorus you can’t get out of your head. “Nemesis” dials up the heaviness for the album’s most “metal” moment and it too is lethal come chorus time, with more hooks than a retro metal gong show run by AMG Himself.

It’s after this glorious triumvirate that Contingent starts to lose its legs and get wobbly. Later cut “Obsession” drink too deeply of the prog chalice and sounds awkward, disorganized and overly busy. “Under Restraint” and “The Tides That Won’t Change” are good but a bit underwhelming and safe, and closer “Symphony of Tears” is better, but feels too tepid to close out an album with such grandiose ambitions. The several short musical interludes scattered over the album do little besides pack in cinematic fluffery and contribute to a bloated feeling as the runtime approaches 57 minutes. Another issue is the dissipated heaviness factor, with the guitars rarely getting aggressive and most of the songs stuck in a cautious mid-tempo that feels devoid of urgency. The snap, crackle and pop heard on Disciples is encountered only sporadically here and when I go back to that album the differences are stark.

Despite the uneven songwriting, the band sounds amazing, with Terje once again stealing the show and proving he’s the man to lead Pyramaze into the future. He has a curiously hybrid style, sometimes sounding like an alt-rock singer and others like the prototype prog-power vocalist. He’s blessed with great range and versatility and he does a lot to sell even the lesser material. Jacob Hansen (ex-Anubis Gate) and Toke Skjonnemand provide a tasteful, albeit mellower collection of riffs and harmonies with their solo-work always a joy to experience. Jonah Weingarten’s keyboards were a big part of Disciples, and now they’re more prominent, and though they don’t hurt the songs, they do make some tracks feel too cluttered.

Since one never knows what to expect from Pyramaze, I wouldn’t say I approached Contingent with overly high expectations. I hoped for more of the same winning formula as last time, and as usual, they opted for something different. Contingent is a good album with great moments, and while I cannot criticize the band for going all out with big concepts and the Michael Bay-sized Hollywood treatment, I wish they had instead focused on writing 9-10 utterly killer songs, regardless of the style. Definitely worth hearing for fans of prog-power and likely to be highly overrated by many, but as for me, I’m a miserable miser.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Releases Worldwide: April 28th, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. This shouldn’t come as too great a shock as former Anubis Gate vocalist Jacob Hansen is their guitarist and current drummer Morten Gade Sorensen splits time with them (small scene, eh?)
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  • Holy bummer. This is (was) probably my most anticipated record of the year despite the singles being pretty underwhelming. Gonna go cry, thanks for the review!

    • brutal_sushi

      Why go cry fellow Pyramazer (is that we call ourselves?) 3.0 is a solid score for a solid album. From everything that I have seen on this site, a score, for me anyway, tends to be elevated more if your a total fan of a band. So this may be a 3.0 for everyone who can dig on some solid power-prog, but for us Pyramazer’s (fuck it, im sticking to it) it could be a 4.0 to a 4.5

      • I’m a huge fan of the band. This is a big let down.

      • I cry because anything less than “album of the year contender” is a let down for this stellar band. While I understand the AMG rating system (not really), Steel’s previous DotS review gave it appropriate praise and a 4.5 score. I read this review as, “the music is pretty good, but don’t expect another masterpiece.” Hence crying. I wanted dat ‘piece.

      • Drew Music

        Fuck it, I’m taking it away from you.
        Pyramazers sounds too much like Peer Amazers, the subsequent mental imagery evoked (something along the lines of a Sunday school summer camp musical assault) being about as unkvlt as it gets.
        There will be no happiness for anyone.

        • brutal_sushi

          You know, I use to like you. But not no more. Tears and angst for all I guess *kicks rocks and puts hands in pocket

          • Drew Music

            You’ll be fine. La Partition, mang. Or Kwintessens! Both peer amazers in their own right, so you can even stay on that kick phonetically to a degree.
            Never go offline mad.

          • brutal_sushi

            I have had La Partition ready to play since I got to the office today… I jammed 1 and 1/2 songs and had to stop if I wanted to get any work done.

          • Drew Music

            That is all kinds of encouraging.

          • brutal_sushi

            And dude. Crystal Teeth fits fucking perfectly in the album… Holy balls this album is dense as shit!

          • Drew Music

            I was pretty confident that would be the case. I’m trying to behave and stop buying albums for the day, but just knowing that that one’s finally a reality is making my arguments for responsibility register that much less.

          • Drew Music

            Fuckin A, I saw the black+red swirl La Partition/ black Februus limited vinyl bundle and abandoned all pretense of responsibility. Poverty never sounded so good.

      • PanzerFistDominatrix

        How big fans are you guys? Enough to care for a translation of an interview with Jacob Hansen in a Danish metal mag? Yes, I do speak that foul language…

        • brutal_sushi

          If you want!

    • I can relate.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I too shall cry, but, like the tears of a unicorn, mine will be lost in the rain.

  • Watching the embedded track…when the hell does the song begin?

    Oh there it is…I just woke up from a nap.

    • Yeah that whole 1-minute plus speechifying thing isn’t a great lead in.

  • Great review! Like a lot of readers, this was probably one of my most anticipated albums of the year. As much as I want to love this, and there are places where I hear some of Disciples coming through, Contingent just leaves me underwhelmed and even a little disappointed.

  • Drew Music

    I’m actually pretty ok with not loving this. The payday ritual has already seen offerings made to Ulcerate and Ghost Bath, the wailing and gnashing of dollar signs is already all but deafening as it is.

    • Drew Music

      I’m also really wishing I hadn’t stumbled across certain Agalloch and Deathspell Omega vinyl sales, holy shit is it hard to tell myself to hold off on those.
      So, yeah, 2.5’s and under this week, please and thank you.

  • Jeff Manteiga

    Clearly you did not enjoy of deep prog.

  • Drew Music

    Miserable miser you may be, but you struggled past the bastardry to churn out yet another excellent review of a band I had previously not heard of, and for that I… well, I won’t salute you, but I suppose I’ll put my all-directed middle finger down for a minute as a sign of respect in your honor.

    • It was a struggle.

      • Drew Music

        And I commend you for it. I come here to learn, I don’t want anything but an honest review of music I’m unfamiliar with, and I get it here in fuckin spades.
        I work third shift as a cashier at a gas station, fully utilizing the absence of my corporate overlords to my musical advantage by deliberately playing what I consider to be worthwhile metal that I can safely assume the masses were previously unscarred by; every night I can count on 3-5 people being intrigued enough to ask me what band is playing (they never know, but they’re interested so there’s hope) and I always steer them to you guys here at AMG because you do what I described so well. I have always been the AMG of every circle of friends I’ve ever wandered into, and I’m still blown away by the sheer frequency at which you open my eyes to countless previously undiscovered bands, I couldn’t thank y’all enough if I tried (I do, though, as you’ve probably noticed) and I go out of my way to encourage others to give in to their anger every day. Hopefully this gig runs forever, I’ve loved it for years and I’ve never seen a metal head not get excited when I describe this site to them.
        Now, back to our regularly scheduling programming:
        Fuck you all.

        • Sean Sky

          My gym likes to play metal, though mostly radio metal and -core stuff, and occasionally things along the lines of Maiden, Lamb of God, Metallica, etc. Occasionally I’ll take control of Spotify and put on stuff you’d find around these parts, and basically nobody likes it and turns it off lol.

          However, I do tend to put up album art for stuff I’m listening to on IG stories. I have a handful of friends on there say I’ve introduced them to lots of new music this way.

          So yeah, I’m very thankful to this site for keeping me supplied with new shit to find, and it’s cool that I get to introduce other people to it as well (I’ve pointed people to this blog in the past also).

          • Drew Music

            The world needs more messengers. I would do unspeakable things to be in a position where I was able to help broadcast the dark signal to a greater audience, I love finding awesome new shit but it feels more rewarding when you get to further spread the unspeakable disease that is the metalz. It’s probably somewhat horrifying for an outsider to see me go from recalcitrant cynic to gushing encyclopedia the moment someone mentions metal. For better or worse, it really might be the thing I care about most.

          • madhare

            Lucky you. All my nearest gyms play horrible club-bimbette-douchebag-stuff. And I don’t like wearing headphones, they distract me from the training.

          • Sean Sky

            Sometimes they play hip-hop (both modern and 90’s stuff) and random trance / house that is pretty mehhhh, though also decent stuff like old Daft Punk and whatnot. I don’t like wearing headphones during training either.

            But yeah I go to a powerlifting / olympic lifting gym and it’s privately owned; not some commercial joint. More expensive but more focused and friendly environment. We’re all pretty much friends here training together. It’s a cool situation.

        • Aw, shucks man!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Hard to take it in that a band that scaled the heights to produce a song like “Fearless” should stumble back down the mountain… of… POWAH!

  • Serjien

    To be fair, topping Disciples was going to be a tall order! I haven’t heard Contingent yet, but I was not expecting it to be better than Disciples. Thanks Steel for confirming my suspicion!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    So, uh, where’s ThatGuy?

    • Thatguy

      See above. I love Anubis Gate. These guys try but never quite make it.

  • Aesir

    The cheese is thick with this one.

  • Thatguy

    Fuck these guys can play and the singer nails it, but they always came across to me as Anubis Gate Jnr. and this album seems the same.

  • KHM

    “A World Divided” seems to have the same slight melancholic twist in the chorus that made me love “The Battle of Paridas” so much. Sounds like this album is a go.

    • KHM

      Also big fan of the blog btw, been so for years :-)

  • Paul VH

    I really like Disciples of the Sun.
    Haven’t heard any of their other albums.
    Would DOTS be considered their best?

    • That or Legend of the Bone Carver.

      • Paul VH

        How was the Matt Barlow album?

        • It was good but didn’t sound much like Pyramaze.

          • I’d say go with Disciples, Bonecarver and Melancholy Beast.

          • Paul VH

            Awesome thanks

          • Paul VH

            Definitely more of a Geoff Tate vocal thingy going on so far on Bone carver.
            I like the new singer….he has a punky edge to his shouts….unique in power metal I thought.
            This is good too though.

  • Shinedown gone symph-prog. Yep.

  • Paul VH

    Idk…..I’m digging this album.
    A World Divided and Nemesis for instance are stellar.
    Lots of great melodies and anthematic choruses.
    And it’s really immediate which is rare in proggy power metal these days.

    So…’s at least worth checking out IMHO.

  • itsmydamnation

    Only just getting to this album now. Am i the only pyramaze fan who didn’t really love disciples of the sun?

    I think this is a better effort, only time will tell but there are only like 3 songs I listen to from disciples of the sun (fearless, disciples of the sun, back for more) its not that the rest are bad they are just forgettable to me. So far contingent seems better in that regard,

    but yes i to wish the guitars were more aggressive and “raw” sounding like in disciples.

    Also in terms of pyramaze albums for me it goes, bonecarver, immortal, disciples, melancholy ( i just cant take the product/sound these days).

  • Edmund Sackbauer

    I am a bit surprised by all this talk about Contingent being a disappointment. With their last album Pyramaze found their own sound taking their Power Metal roots and atmosphere of their previous albums and combined those with a slightly Melodic Prog edge similar to bands like the mentioned Anubis Gate or others bands like DGM, Borealis, Teramaze etc.

    Contigent is the natural prolongation of this and sounds even a bit more refined. So I guess some have been overwhelmed by Disciples coming out of nowhere that they expected another surprise hit but got only a solid new album in a similar vein.

  • Rick Capranica

    Land of Information not Confusion:)