Review Summary: A short, but positive, rebuttal to an underrated sophomore release.
Review Primer: Ion Dissonance play an extremely abrasive form of technical death/grind infused hardcore music. Early comparisons to Calculating Infinity-era Dillinger Escape Plan, both vocally and musically, are spot on. There is also a strong Meshuggah influence in both guitar tuning and catchy, off-kilter rhythms. However, new listeners should be cautioned that ID revel in showing complete disregard for any sort of musical congruity.
There is a deafening, blistering rawness that no other band achieves on the same level as Ion Dissonance does on Solace. Much ink has been spilled on the final mixing of this album. However, accident or not, Solace sounds like a *very* high quality recording of one of their best live performances, not an overproduced studio album. Listening to it is like being cut by a rusty, dull knife over and over again and enjoying the visceral rush of it.
The guitar and bass work is *much* more dynamic on Solace than on Breathing is Irrelevant. Much more in the way of high fret board climbs, alternating chug/squeels, and some of the most shiver inducing bass chord pulls/slides you'll ever hear. Like another reviewer said, track 7, "You're not carving" is *vicious* in it's created groove that you'll be yelling out expletives because words will fail you.
The production mix on this album is similar to many marquee grindcore albums (Think: Pig Destroyer, Nasum, Keelhaul). On most technical metal albums, each instrument is perfectly equalized and delineated so that there is very little mid range but overall an extremely dynamic sound.
Solace (like many grindcore albums) compresses its instruments "almost" completely to the mid range. Now, being a drummer myself, I like to hear every single cymbal (ID utilizes a lot of them), tom, kick bass and snare that is being hit and rolled, but at the same time, I am quite fond of the "flatter" almost analog sound, as it gives the band a more unified feel.
More importantly, it sounds more organic, which works to the favor of bands like Ion Dissonance almost solely because extremely technical music of this sort would sound like it was being performed by a computer if produced like a typical metal record. (Think: Cephalic Carnage's last few LP's.) Because of the denser, almost "distant" sound, it sounds like actual human beings are playing this material, making each song sound even more impressive.
*Special credit must be given to Gabriel McCaughry vocal presence, as he once again takes a frighteningly manic, yet surprisingly poetic, approach to his material.
This album is perfect in it's length. Everything fits together perfectly, even the 11 minute final track which, ironically enough, displays my favorite drumming on the album. (Well, that and "She's Strychnine"). It's short and sweet, but you'll revel in being able to go back to individual songs and pick out new things every time you listen to them.
Unfortunately, the individual songs on this album are definitely not as memorable as several are on Breathing is Irrelevant. There are no "crowd pleasers" here like The Bud Dwyer Effect or The Death of One Man . . . Fortunately, this album, while produced like a grindcore record, is also composed like one, in that all of the songs perfectly blend into each other to create an overall effect.
If you appreciate some of the most uniquely composed, technically aggressive music in existence then purchase (not download) this album. A band of this sort needs all of the support it can get.