A wise person once said that you're never really finished—you just have to stop," laughs Eric Guenther, keyboardist of The Contortionist. "We definitely understood that saying on this record, because even though we've had more time to make it than in the past, we've still been obsessing over the details until the last possible minute."
For The Contortionist's long-awaited, as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2014's acclaimed 'Language,' the progressive metal sextet returned to Jamie King's Basement Recording in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with King once again producing. "We knew we wanted to work with him again," explains vocalist Mike Lessard. "He gets what we're going for, and he's got good ideas of his own, so it makes the work flow easy. Some days you get in there and you're not feeling inspired, but he has a way of pulling it out of you. You'll be like, 'Ugh, I don't know about today…' and he'll be like, 'Well, how about this idea?' And you'll go, 'Oh wow, that sounds great!' And you'll get excited, and all these ideas will start flowing."
Before going into the studio with King, the band spent a month in pre-production at the Maine home studio of Evan Sammons, drummer of Last Chance to Reason, the band Lessard sang with before joining The Contortionist full-time in 2013. "We went up there in November and rented a cabin on a lake, so we got to have a bit of seclusion," Lessard recalls. "Evan helped us piece some of the puzzle together. It's nice to have an extra mind there to help you shape it—someone who knows the band, knows what we're going for, and can even say, 'No, you shouldn't do that!' That was very valuable."
Guenther tells Revolver that the mix for the album is "90 percent done," and thinks that the record will finally see the light of day in late summer or early fall. However, he admits that he has difficulty describing what it actually sounds like. "People who have heard it have said that it sounds like a natural progression for the band," he says. "What we're doing does feel new for everyone in the band, in a way that's super-exciting. We are making some strong-arm decisions to go in certain artistic directions, and the fact that we're stretching some different muscles is encouraging to me. There's always that lingering feeling of, 'Are we going the right direction with this?' But we're really going for something here that's a little different."
"I think some bands get caught up in thinking that they've got to stick to the same sound as their last record," adds Lessard, "but we've always been a band that's embraced change. We don't phone it in at all; we definitely go in there and try to make the best thing we possibly can. We wanted to write a record that we could be proud of—and at the end of the day, I think we did that."