X Contract - 'Territory Hours' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 07, 2013    
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A slow, absorbing trip with interesting twists and turns.

This is the second record from the alt-prog rock band from Denmark. If bands like Anathema, Porcupine Tree and even Tool do it for you then don't be fooled by the cheap looking photo-shop cover on this CD, as within lies some sublime, ambient music that can also be blisteringly heavy without sounding incongruous.

Take opener 'Frequencies' as an example; a light ambient mood sets the scene, helping you to float off skyward on a fluffy cloud of ease before big, metal guitars crash in dragging you back down to earth. It's affecting, and the word "craft" comes to mind when you think of how the songs are pieced together to slowly create a mood that builds in intensity. Dennis Pedersen and Lars Klit's vocals have the correct ennui to mirror the music. Some might find their languid vocals a little difficult to fully connect with as it's really difficult to pick out what they're singing, the mood is more important than the diction here. As a result, some may find it too ambient. That's why a song like 'All These Nights' stands out as the simple "Whooah, Whoah" in the chorus is clearer and catchier than when they're singing words.

However for those who get it, or take the time to study the inlay booklet with the lyrics, then this album has a meditative effect. It's certainly not rock 'n' roll, but it is most definitely rock, alt-prog played with a maturity sadly lacking in much of today's music. 'Bullet Proof' moves into Industrial territory. 'Better Days' has a Tool vibe and throughout there's a distinct Muse feel to the music. It's not a copy though as they sound like a less histrionic, showy version of Muse, instead reeling in Muse's more pretentious aspects and going for intricate, intelligent music. Harmony vocals from the band help create their broad sound and this is an ensemble piece with all the band; the keyboards, guitars and rhythm section all knitting together like cogs in a well-oiled machine.

If you want a quick injection of rock 'n' roll energy you won't find it here, but for a slow, absorbing trip with interesting twists and turns then X Contract are a band many prog fans will be able to lose themselves in.

Duncan Jamieson

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Franco Cerchiari said:

Imagine a mix of the layered vocals of Riverside, the ear pleasing, orchestral sounds of Big Big Train, the fantastic keyboards of Voyager and the eclectic music of Paradise and you have an idea of what to expect when hearing this, the latest release by Denmark's X Contract. The music is lush, orchestral, ambient, and rich with textures that range from soft to bombastic, from progressive to straight up hard rock, and guitars that shift from soft acoustic accompaniments to killer hooks and solos. It's all here, which is what makes this a standout. Never knowing what the next musical bar, sung note or track will begin, the CD transfixes the listener with an ensemble of music, but what is the kicker, is that the music flows nicely from one song to the next.

Get lost in the fantastic piano heavy, almost modern sounding opening track 'Frequencies', the futuristic synthesizers of 'All These Lights', the head nodding 'Silencio', the layered pitch perfect vocals of 'Mood', and the music of 'Too Far', is crushing in parts, but in a complete good way, in that the songwriter knew just when to give the music just enough lift, to allow the listener to breathe, when soon the guitars again pound away at the listener's brain once more.

A great follow up to their 2012 release, 'Dearest Dream', but the music on 'Territory Hours', seems more progressive, more of the tracks are not as hard as was heard on 'Dearest Dreams' and there is more of an emphasis to use the instruments as individual parts of the band instead of just part of the overall sound. The instruments on 'Territory Hours', were used to their fullest potential. Which says something for the songwriting and muscianship.

A great CD for the fans of the progressive, rock and ambient music. Pick up both of X Contract's releases and discover a band that truly offers a mix of styles, tempos and volumes throughout their CD's playing time.
December 07, 2013
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