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Contradiction originate from Wuppertal. The city is more or less famous for its "Schwebebahn" (suspension railway), but the easiness of this technical masterpiece does not have an effect on the extremely heavy and aggressive sound of the group. Apart from this, Contradiction is one of these thrash metal bands that I do not fully understand, because the guys have a sadistic tendency to torture their listeners every now and then. Due to whatever reasons, they fail to pen a complete album without mediocre pieces. Instead of delivering only killer tracks, the talented band is sometimes not immune against presenting significantly weaker tunes. That's a pity, because Contradiction have a distinct sense for the fascinating combination of vehemence and catchiness (the bridge and the chorus of "Start the Action"), they can create suspenseful beginnings ("Death Is Now") and they are able to perform very tunes with very fast parts without drifting into chaos (the title track, for example). But this is just one side of the noisy formation. Let's take a look at their general appearance, before I put the focus on its other, less compelling face.
Lead singer Koffer looks like Pro-Pain's Gary Meskil and the entire band celebrates a comparable attitude. The image of the tough, hard working guys is omnipresent and the angry shouting of Koffer expresses his disgust in a credible manner. At the same time, it cannot be ignored that his grim performance borders on monotony. However, it is good that neither Koffer nor any other musician contributes any casual or even funny elements that would only dilute the authenticity of the seriously operating group. By the way, the production of "The Essence of Anger" expresses the seriousness of the band as well. Crystal clear and with a lot of pressure, the technical execution leaves no wishes unfulfilled. But be aware that it is a modern production which does not intend to reanimate the old Bay Area days. Rather, Contradiction try to unfold the maximum penetrating power instead of taking care of the genre's tradition. That' s okay. Only incorrigible diehards will find a reason to moan about this fact. They will say that the "cold and mechanized" production does not transport any type of feelings. But sorry, their overly nostalgic point of view is unimportant. Contradiction have chosen to adore the dominance of violence and they have every right to do so.
The apocalyptic scenario of the cover artwork matches the musical approach. Contradiction's cannons are firing without interruption. Even a mid-tempo headbanger like "Collateral Carnage" shows an extremely ugly face in view of its homicidal harshness. Clear case, the simmering hatred of Koffer and the other guys cannot be suppressed. Apart from this, the song scores with the best chorus of the album.
And yet, the album does not fully convince. Objectively speaking, it it a good work. Nonetheless, it gives you the feeling that the band has not yet exploited its full (enormous) potential. Sometimes the guys take the wrong decision. "Reign of Fear", which is naturally not a cover version of Rage's classic from the mid-eighties, suffers from an inappropriately soft guitar solo. Additionally, this track contains rather half-baked background vocals. "Death Is Now" - please remember its fantastic start - falls short of expectations, because the single parts of the song do not harmonise with each other. Especially the melodic instrumental parts are like a foreign body. "Walk of Shame" has a similar problem. An oppressive riff kicks off the song in a captivating manner, but too many chopped staccato sections endanger the atmosphere. "Domesticated", to mention a final example, offers good sequences, but it is definitely too long and makes clear that the band is running out of ideas the longer the full-length lasts.
I must confess that it is not easy for the single pieces to find their unmistakable identity in view of the (almost) permanent brutality. Nevertheless, the song material is definitely better than this of "The Warchitect", the predecessor of the here reviewed album. Without question, "The Essence of Anger" is really a strong and competitive record that combines fury, anger, passion and brutality. Too bad that the band did not have the courage to reject one or two songs in order to deliver a better and more compact product. But this has already been the problem of "The Warchitect".
One might immediately lower expectations for a metal album when it opens with a George W. Bush Jr. sample, but Contradiction at least avoids the cliche 'taxes' quote for something else, a threat of intent which mirrors the band's own style, an aggressive and warlike slab of old school thrash that lacks the dated feeling of a great many peers. There is the influence here from the usual suspects, in particular Sodom, Kreator and Tankard, but Contradiction do not try and outpace their idols through sheer speed (like many of the sillier current of retrotards), they write pretty laid back thrashing tracks which carry enough power to push them to the fore of the rat pack. This is probably because Contradiction is a band of old timers who simply never hit the big time, having formed in 1989 and released 5 other full length albums before this one.
The Essence of Anger is not a great effort, mind you, but it has a certain quality to it that I find refreshing. At its most energetic, the riffs pop at you with semi-memorable aggression, but the band also evokes a lot of slower moments, which feel as if they echo from a dystopian nightmare, an empty city full of armed vigilantes and warlords (like the guy on the cover). Oliver Lux has that brand of constipated vocals, rich in accent and mildly reminiscent of Tom Angelripper, or perhaps a male equivalent to Sabine from Holy Moses. The best tracks here are all quite simple, like the thundering "Start the Action" which seems the perfect incitement to a 21st century riot; the Sacred Reich slamming of "Collateral Carnage" and "The Spectator"; or the very Destruction-like vitriol of "Life's End". Two of the songs feature Leif Jensen (Dew-Scented) as a guest vocalist.
The tones of the album are rich, especially the vocals, which soar across the rhythm like a steel throated cyborg issuing orders to a core of riot punks, who assault you from the shelter of rusted, burned out motor vehicles and graffiti-splattered concrete abandon. I was not riveted by a lot of the material, and they certainly do not set out here to re-invent the wheel, but I feel Contradiction is owed a certain level of respect for writing a true thrash metal album and not some 'Look at my hi-tops and patch collection, I am soooo fuckin' real' recycled garbage.
Highlights: Start the Action, Collateral Carnage, Life's End, Commandments