Review Summary: Ion Dissonance trade exhaustive tech wizardry for moshpit heavy breakdowns. Is it for the better??
Ion Dissonance – “Minus the Herd”
1. The Surge
2. Through Evidence
4. Shunned Redeemer
5. You Shouldn’t Be Alive
6. Scorn Haven
7. Of Me . . . Nobody is Safe
9. Void of Conscience
10. Tarnished Trepidation
There’s no easy way to say this – especially since the ID are without a doubt my favorite American band next to Converge and Glassjaw – but their new album Minus the Herd is a disappointment no matter how objectively you look at it.
Let’s begin with the good. The album is extremely enjoyable, as I have listened to the album on average 2-3x each day throughout this past week. Since most (save for myself) were extremely disappointed with the production treatment on ID’s previous effort Solace, it seems that the boys set out to rectify the engineering wrongs of the past through Minus the Herd.
Simply put, the album is extremely bottom heavy, but in a good way. I actually had to adjust my midrange levels (something I rarely do) just so I could hear clearly the guitars over the bass and kick drum. After that slight adjustment, the album completely annihilated my sound system like no other in past memory.
The most noticeable difference however is in how much warmer the overall production sound actually is. If long time fans remember correctly, both Breathing is Irrelevant and Solace were produced with extremely crunchy, cold sound mixes. There was a certain abrasiveness that made the already difficult material that much more difficult to listen to for prolonged periods of time.
Minus the Herd, on the other had, has a classic jazz vinyl feel to its production where it, for better or worse, removes a great deal of the abrasiveness commonly found in IDs now easily recognizable sound. What it does add is a great amount of mood and atmosphere, mainly because there is now more “space” in between each instrument. One way in which this release is superior to IDs 2 previous LPs is in the very effective menacing, dark atmosphere that they are able to sustain throughout the entire album.
Unfortunately, Ion Dissonance have chosen to emphasize their weaknesses instead of their strengths on Minus the Herd, resulting in a fun album to listen to that lacks any sort of depth that makes subsequent listens a prerequisite.
Do you remember the final track from Solace Prelude of Things Worse to Come? Imagine 10 tracks in that similar vein and you have Minus the Herd.
The main problem is that Ion Dissonance are just not talented enough songwriters to pull off more “moodier” metal songs. The obvious fact that there is little in artistic heft (made even more apparent by the absence of previous vocalist Gabriel McCaughry) is something that becomes very apparent short way into the album. The main draw of Ion Dissonance has always been their blistering technical attacks that literally bring chills up your spine upon the first listen. Unfortunately, said chills are completely absent from this album.
One can completely understand the desire of ID in striving to create a more memorable listening experience, but only a few bands have really managed to bridge the world of traditional song craftmanship with chaotic tech-metal wizardry (British natives Sikth and hardcore legends Converge are two of the few bands to successfully achieve that in recent memory).
Each track is very effective in establishing its mood, but unfortunately there is just too little beneath the surface to really elevate the material. The lack of songwriting talent is apparent, and unfortunately many tech metal fans will be gravely saddened that one of the world’s most premiere avant-garde aggressive bands have decided to trade in their unorthodox technical chops for a more calculated, if albeit flawed and unsured, effort.