Review Summary: Ion Dissonance's signature sound takes on a more ominous tone.Cast The First Stone
erupts into bare faced chaos almost immediately, abruptly quelling any fears I had regarding Ion Dissonance’s ability to pummel us into submission after being away for so long. I couldn’t be happier that they’ve retained their relentless unpredictability, although at the same time it’s good to see that they haven’t just dug their heels in and resisted change; Cast The First Stone
represents a refinement of the sound they’ve been developing since their inception.
When I say refined I don’t mean that they’ve stripped away any of the forcefulness that’s made them so intimidatingly appealing in the past. Rather, their knack for unrelenting aggression has now been imbued with a tone of ominous misanthropy. They’ve always had a vein of the malevolent running through their music and here it takes a fuller form. Beneath the chugging hammer-downs and endless blast-beats there tends to be a riff smacking of impending dread giving proceedings that little bit of extra malignance. It gives them an atmospheric quality that I feel has always been missing from their earlier works, where the focus tended to be on insane chaos rather than eliciting any discernible tone.
Lyrically, the focus seems to be on painting an apocalyptic picture, or at least a pessimistic view of the way society has been and is going. “Treading On Thin Ice” specifically sees vocalist Kevin McCaughey occupied with the current state of western democracies, lamenting over our horrific “post truth” media (“A very thin fine line exists amid free speech in voicing your opinions and spitting bull*** lies and injustice”) and damning us all as “doomed to repeat the cycle”. This cynical negativity permeates Cast The First Stone
, hatred of the masses seeming to be the overall focus (“For narrow minded fools/Thick headed to the bone”). These lyrics aren’t particularly insightful or well-crafted for the most part, being neither poetic nor containing any smart word-play, but they do carry a certain weight behind them in their demented sermon-like deliverance.
Furthermore, the impact of these tirades of hate are exemplified by Ion Dissonance’s chaotic knack for structure, the most blistering lines emphasised by the juggernaut instrumentals that burst in afterwards. In fact, this chaotic knack for structure is one of the most impressive things about Cast The First Stone
, rarely falling into the chaos-for-chaos’s sake trap that so many like-minded efforts do. This allows the pessimistic one-liners to take the limelight at the right moment, carefully considered and placed where their impact will be most felt instead of just getting lost in mindless mayhem. Although, if mindless mayhem is what you desire you can’t go wrong with this; calling it straightforward would be a disservice.