Review Summary: Solace: Part 2
After listening to Ion Dissonance's 2005 release, Solace
, I found myself overwhelmed with disappointment. Only a couple of Solace's
tracks were worth listening to and even those were largely uninspired. The band had made a drastic change for the worse. What happened to the extremely technical fretboard mastery of Ion Dissonance's debut album Breathing is Irrelevant
or even the distinct character that the album displayed? All of the appealing aspects of Breathing is Irrelevant
were replaced with more generic and elements that are easily found in the current scene. Monotonous breakdowns that sounded exactly like the ones before it were overly abundant and some of the songs even contained hints of basic structures. You would think that the only place to go from there is up, right? Think again.
Minus the Herd
does little to redeem the band from their previous album. Since the departure of vocalist Gabriel McCaughr
y, Ion Dissonance had decided to recruit Kevin McCaughe
y. This turned out to be a catastrophic mistake as Ion Dissonance had, sadly, taken another step towards being completely mundane with a new vocalist who mainly uses a boring medium range scream. The music on Minus the Herd
never strays all that far from the formulas that were present on Solace
, but a few attempts at trying to integrate a variance in their sound can be heard. The drumming seems to be the only consistent component of the band. Minus the Herd
is nothing more than a lackluster release from Ion Dissonance.
Musically, only three tracks (well one song and certain sections of two songs) on Minus the Herd
are worth anyone's precious time. The first of which, "Shunned Redeemer" begins like any typical Ion Dissonance track with the shifts between high pitched notes and incredibly muddy palm mutes. The single impressive passage of "Shunned Redeemer" is a bit experimental for Ion Dissonance. With a spoken word sample being toyed with in the background and a heavy ambience being created, the rest of the band rallies behind slightly progressive sounding guitar work. "Untitled" is without a doubt the best track on the entire album and just happens to be entirely instrumental. Oh, and did I mention that the track is entirely percussive too? Heavy reverb and delay are used on the drumming which is oddly enough, restrained. For some reason, this track worked and Ion Dissonance needs to take a page from it and include more of these types of passages in their music. Much like "Shunned Redeemer", "Untitled" is able build some sort of an atmosphere with the samples and effects that are present. The only downside to the track is the fact that it's less than to minutes long. Lastly, the doomy feel of the guitar playing in "Tarnished Trepidation" is pleasant to see. The concept of the first riff is carried over into the multiple breakdowns throughout the song with the addition of the rare high pitched shriek of Kevin McCaughey.
Most of the tracks on Minus the Herd
could effortlessly be interchanged with tracks from Solace
, so calling Minus the Herd
a musical degression wouldn't really be fitting. The album seems more like a continuation of whatever this band was trying to achieve on Solace
. A promising crescendo on "The Surge" is quickly destroyed by some boring, palm muted guitar work. The only track that doesn't abuse the simple concept of a breakdown is "Untitled". I'm hoping that Ion Dissonance just merely forgot to fix the blatant error that plagued Solace
. Understanding the guitarists intention in writing seemingly identical riffs and songs is impossible. Listening to the intro of "Void of Conscience",chugging quarter notes any person with a guitar could play, makes me wonder what they were thinking. This is not to say that the majority of the lines and riffs that the band is playing are actually bad, just redundant. The musicianship of Ion Dissonance is superb. Split second pauses and ludicrously complex rhythms are just a taste of what is brought to the table. What can be said is that the music that's written is but a sliver of what this band is capable of, which was already shown on Breathing is Irrelevant
If you couldn't tell already, my level of disdain for this album has been peaked. With their debut album, Breathing is Irrelevant
, Ion Dissonance were able to show everybody what a tech-metal classic should sound like. Now, repeating the same mistakes as before, the band show no improvement over their predecessor with Minus the Herd
. It feels like they have simply given up trying to write material that breaks boundaries or challenges listeners. Once again, there are passages here and there that show potential but nothing is capitalized on. It certainly is unreasonable to ask for a follow-up that matches Breathing is Irrelevant
in terms of technicality but that doesn't mean it's unreasonable to ask for material that matches Breathing is Irrelevant
in terms of originality.