Tracklist1. 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
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When I first caught wind of Ion Dissonance they were an unsigned Canadian act with two songs on their MP3.com page and only the .357 demo to their name. Shortly thereafter, Willowtip Records picked up the band for their debut, Breathing Is Irrelevant, a completely chaotic schizo-riff fest. The album showed a ridiculous amount of talent in a young band that were taking the foundation laid by The Dillinger Escape Plan and running within 1,000 different directions at once. The band steadily gained popularity leading to signing with Abacus Recordings for the release of 2005's Solace. Solace saw the band reeling in their unpredictable nature a bit and focusing on making more memorable songs, easily outshining their debut.
So here we are in 2007, and Ion Dissonance is back with Minus the Herd, their third full-length effort and first with vocalist Kevin McCaughey. Armed with an incredibly beefy production courtesy of Zeuss, the band continues down the path of Solace, further streamlining their sound into a more controlled and focused beast making for their most memorable and their most unmercifully heavy effort to date.
First things first, McCaughey does an admirable job with his slightly more hardcore oriented vocal stylings. His voice is a little more stern and direct, but doesn't quite have the same lacerating effect that Gabriel McCaughry’s had. Sometimes Gabriel would get overly hoarse when reaching into the upper part of his range, but Kevin's voice sounds forceful through his entire range.
Secondly, the more streamlined sound makes for an album that is much, much easier to wrap the ol' noggin around. You could make the argument that they've lowered the level of technicality because they aren't cramming so many riffs into their songs and they don't rely as heavily on vicious flurries of notes, but the songs are still mind-bogglingly complex and completely non-linear, the band just allows themselves to settle into grooves that really help to hammer home just how powerful their staccato riffing is. Besides, there are enough moments, such as in "Of Me... Nobody Is Safe" where the band unleashes their more chaotic side to satiate that need. Also of note is the increasing presence of completely bizarre chugging patterns that frequently garner Meshuggah comparisons, but Ion Dissonance's delivery has much higher levels of speed and intensity, so I won't do the band the disservice.
Straight up, Minus the Herd is the heaviest record of the year. Any other band making that claim (coughEmmurecough) can promptly shut the hell up. Some may prefer the more frenzied attack of the first two records, but there is no denying it, Minus the Herd is the catchiest and most pummeling Ion Dissonance record yet.