Review Summary: Ion Dissonance craft a predictable and formulaic album that is suffering from a case of the borings.
Releasing a debut album surely is a difficult task but releasing a debut album that is described as "classic" must be a bitch. With the release of a genre shattering, genre defining, or genre expanding debut album, a band is faced with a bit of a burden. From that glorious moment, a bands future albums will seem to wither next to their monolithic predecessor. Future albums have no chance to be as good or better as they are lurking in the shadows of the classic debut. Failure is inevitable. What to do in a situation like that. Well, some bands change their sound completely until no remnants of their past sound can be detected. Famous for doing so is Cave In. Releasing a classic "metallic hardcore" album among their fans, Until Your Heart Stops
, the only logical
thing to do next is to put out an excellent, bona fide space-rock album, right
? Metalcore giants Poison the Well gradually got rid of the breakdowns and formed into a more experimental metal/hardcore. For the tech-metal definers, The Dillinger Escape Plan, the obvious choice is to take their current sound and add more structure, structure not seen on their debut Calculating Infinity
but still keeping the extreme technicality intact.
Ion Dissonance's debut album Breathing is Irrelevant
is usually considered a classic tech-metal/grind album by those who have heard it. That acclaim was highly deserved. Breathing is Irrelevant
is without a doubt one of the most punishing albums that have graced my ears. Every single aspect of that album is incredibly intricate. Chaos was around ever blast-beat filled corner, as was flawlessly arranged guitar lines, most of which I couldn't even dream of being able to play, let alone figure out. I was awe-struck by what Ion Dissonance presented on their debut. How every band member was so precise while playing intensely complex music was amazing to say the least. So does Ion Dissonance fall into my classic debut theory, broken only by few bands? I am very sad to inform you that Solace
, Ion Dissonance's sophomore release is nowhere relatively close to the vastly greater Breathing is Irrelevant
. Most of the tracks on Solace
feel like simplified and watered-down versions of songs found on Breathing is Irrelevant
. Some songs even tred into the territory of bland and boring breakdowns found in the behemoth known as metalcore. Also, many songs sound so similar that it becomes a chore to tell them apart. As disappointing as Solace
may be, some songs can be enjoyable, even for fans of Ion Dissonance's debut.
First, the good. Ironically, two of the three (maybe four) tracks that are worth listening to fall right at the beginning of this bore-fest. From the starting gate, the backbreaking speed and technical ability Ion Dissonance are known for is unleashed. I only wonder why the entire album isn't like 'Play Dead... And I'll Play Along'. The guitar that opens the song resembles playing that was established on Breathing is Irrelevant
. False hope is given though. What plagues this song is the presence of a generic breakdown. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, the breakdown just feels out of place and is included just to take up time, or for the song to be more accessible. Ion Dissonance are capable of a lot more, they just refuse to show it for some reason or another. Helplessly manic screams introduce 'O.A.S.D.' where the drumming and guitar playing is top notch. The drummer has some of the quickest feet I have ever heard, and the blast-beats, as you could imagine, are just as impressive. The drums are the instrument that listeners should pay the most attention to. 'Shut Up, I'm Trying to Worry' at first seems like a typically song Ion Dissonance would produce but then morphs into a mid-tempo, groove oriented section. The guitar plays some dissonant (sorry) arpeggio from hell while the bass and drums set up a bouncy (oh my) rhythm behind it. Interesting parts such as this make me realize that a band such as this could have broken the mold, but only show mere fractions of what they are capable of. Depressing, isn't it?
Now for the many faults Solace
presents. With group of highly skilled of musicians certainly there would be some type of yearning to become more skillful, more evolved or hell, even just to try something new. Here, the band only makes a couple attempts to differ from past works or from current trends. Many of the songs here contain breakdowns but only a couple of them are intriguing and explore new territories. The bulk end up being very out of place. Not to mention that breakdowns in general are becoming tiresome and generic. Aren't these just boring to play anyway. The only possible explanation I have found for the excess of hideous breakdowns in this album is for the music Ion Dissonance plays to become more genre friendly and accessible to the everyday metalcore fanatic. Enough is said, moving on to the more important issues at hand.
Through the varying degrees of structure each song has, I was able to identify a rough outline for almost every track. The predictability that is found on Solace
was more than underwhelming. Part of what made Breathing is Irrelevant
so mind-blowing was the way that you could never guess what monstrosity was about to be presented to you. While this album is still erratic compared to metal you can hear on the radio today, I felt like the close-to-random aspect of the music was disposed of. 'Cleansed By Silence' relies primarily on the transitions from harsh, piercing chords to low tuned palm mutes that sound way to muddy for their own good. The song never makes the slightest effort to add different elements to the mundane formula. 'She's Strychnine' and 'Signature' follow ever so closely the the tired blueprint presented in 'Cleansed By Silence'. One of the few places where this album deliver something I never thought Ion Dissonance would even attempt is the last track. It is odd for any Ion Dissonance song to be any ,longer than four and a half minutes. 'A Prelude Of Things Worse To Come' ends at around eleven minutes. Being the slowest track this band has written, complications arise. The doomy atmosphere of the track is a nice shift for Solace
but the track is too drawn out for the monotonous droning to have a positive effect.
The general rank of Solace
can be set at "immensely disappointing". The reason why this album deserved said rank is too clear. A comparison to Ion Dissonance's debut album, Breathing is Irrelevant
reveal the weaknesses that haunt Solace
. For one, most of the foreseeable nature of this album destroys almost entirely the on-edge feel that is what Ion Dissonance nearly perfected on their debut. Also, regurgitated formulas of harsh, high pitched tones and murky palm mutes will never sound as convincing as new idea that could have been placed throughout Solace
. The side effect that the formulaic approach creates is tracks that can sound identical at times. Only a few notable tracks stand out from this heap of uninspired songs.