Sure, there have been some great Death and Chuck Schuldiner homages in 2015- notably Gruesome and Skeletal Remains. But what if the spirit of Chuck Schuldiner was implanted into something  a little less obvious and something a little more cavernous? And what if that something was a sort of super group featuring George Kollias (Nile, etc), Leon Macy (Mithras) and Brian Mason (Sulaco) and had some monstrous, super deep goregrind growls courtesy of Cody McDonnell (Animals Killing People).  Well then you would have Contrarian and their debut album , Polemic.

While the folks involved would lead you to believe Polemic would be a veritable tech blast fest, especially with Macy on guitars, but Polemic is surprisingly restrained. It lurches and and shudders with a more seismic pace, like meteors  colliding with each other in deep space. The cosmic analogy is bolstered by Macy’s already known other wordly, but beefed up guitar work. Add some Pestilence/Atheist-y  fret less twangy bass and you get a very deep sense of latter Death especially in Chuck’s more crystalline, introspective moments, and that’s cemented by a cover of “Nothing is Everything” to close the album out.

This mix comes across as certainly Mithras-y but with some added sort of cavernous, dense Artificial Brain backbone. Or a Dark Descent band fronted by Chuck Schuldiner. Either way, it’s a mesmerizing, restrained and elegant but still heavy album that is clearly an album that has some depth behind it that will take some listens to unravel.

There’s nothing immediate or catchy on Polemic. Single tracks don’t jump out or scream to be repalyed. Instead the the 32 minute, 8 song run time (or 28 minute 7 song if you remove the Death cover) is a controlled, twisty, serpentine, spacey and ethereal journey that require repeated listens. From opening title track through the celestial crunch of “Predestined”to “Diogenes at Delphi”, the album plays more like a deep space sermon than songs. The cavernous vocals give it a little more death metal oomph and while some other vocals that might have been more fitting (Kelly Schaefer would have been an easy choice) , it works, giving things a bigger, more menacing omnipresent alien presence.

Clearly Willowtip’s best record in some time, Contrarian and Polemic should garner some well deserved end of year attention despite being released pretty late in the year and missing the end of year list push. i know I had to do some editing to mine….


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 23rd, 2015


  1. Commented by: Allred

    I dig this a lot..been meaning to pick this up, but the holidays keeps taking my extra money..

  2. Commented by: Jerry

    So many distractions from a new Mithras record. At least they are all solid.

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