Review Summary: Ion Dissonance improve in all the right ways, releasing probably the best album out of their discography.
Ion Dissonance is a grind/mathcore band hailing from Canada. Their unique mixture of Meshuggah-esque polyrhythms and use of grindcore’s blisteringly fast instrumentation has made them a standout amongst other bands that play in a similar vein to other bands incorporating odd time signatures and rhythms. The band started out with an unbelievable debut titled Breathing is Irrelevant, which won a deserved cult following for its breath of fresh air in the beginning-to-stagnate genre it populated. The band’s follow up, Solace, was a slight departure from their debut with a more accessible sound that still managed to recreate the feel of their debut.
And then they released Minus the Herd.
To be completely honest, I had no idea what the band wanted to do with such an album. They COMPLETELY dumbed down their sound until nothing remained except palm muted open note string breakdowns the whole way through. Not to mention the completely uninspired mid to low range vocals did nothing but add to the mediocrity of the album. Truly, the only song worth salvaging from that train wreck was the instrumental “Untitled,” which unfortunately showed that had the band actually tried, they might have released something halfway decent.
Now Cursed has come along to swiftly kick us in the balls for doubting Ion Dissonance for so much. All the chaotic grind sound from their debut is back in full force. The guitars are as technical and complicated as ever, the drums are punishingly fast and unique, and the vocal department (while still keeping Kevin from Minus the Herd) has seen a drastic improvement. The album’s opener, “Cursed,” instantly establishes the album’s precedent by beginning with a haunting guitar lead before a quirky time signature solo takes over. The song flows, and by flow I mean rapidly explodes, into “You People Are Messed Up.” Beginning with the Kevin’s trademark low scream (which is now a lot more enjoyable,) the song goes through a series of chaotic grind moments as well as polyrhythmic sections that harkens back to the best moments from Breathing is Irrelevant.
In fact, the guitar’s throughout the entire album keep up this pace, constantly flowing from intense breakdowns, to spastic rhythmic passages, to some melodic sections so quickly and proficiently that the album hardly ever lets up being interesting. The drums especially deserve notice on the album, especially on “The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same.” Jean-Francois Richard is a phenomenally talented drummer; his blast beats, cymbal crashes, and double pedal work helps to create an immense rhythmic section that perfectly complements the craziness of the guitars.
The album truly shines with its last two songs, “They’ll Never Know” and “Pallor.” The former begins with a riff that seems lifted straight out of a Sikth song before descending into a breakdown reminiscent of Minus the Herd. Normally this wouldn’t work, but the song’s subsequent psychedelic rock-esque passage, taking a page out of Minus the Herd’s “Untitled,” helps to make the song dynamic, and creates a perfect lead-in to the album’s closer “Pallor.” Starting off with a full on melodic guitar riff, the song continues surprising the listener by breaking into a soft acoustic passage before clean sung vocals (yes, clean sung vocals) takes over with harsh screams in the background. The song schizophrenically switches between these relaxed singing moments and aggressive grind sections before finally closing with a simple acoustic riff.
Without exaggeration or bias, this is probably Ion Dissonance’s best album since Minus the Herd, maybe even topping it. Everything here has improved immensely. The songwriting has taken drastic leap forwards in that it’s unique and fun to listen to, the drums have stepped up from their previous all double pedal work on the last album and the vocals are varied and dynamic to keep the listener engaged, displaying Kevin’s full pitch range. It’s also incredibly gratifying to see the band experimenting with their sound and being innovative, notably on their closer “Pallor.” This is a must for any fan of Ion Dissonance, and a highly recommended purchase to anyone interested in rhythmically diverse metal.
This is the Last Time I Repeat Myself
We Like to Call This One…*** Off (mainly for fans of Minus the Herd because the vocals maintain a similar style to that album)