Review: Iwrestledabearonce – “Ruining It For Everybody” (Century Media Records)

In what is sure to be alternately the most loved and/or hated release by any band this year, we have the new album by genre benders IWABO.  In the outright PR and marketing coup d’état of 2011, the band shocked the world with the declaration that they were “turning black metal” on May 17th. This what we call in advertising the perfect confluence of a savvy band and their handlers knowing exactly how to push buttons and manipulate the public. The metal media and public outcry from both fans and detractors was an amazing spectacle to behold for a few days. The band, with some help from essentially punked the world. Since there is in fact no such thing as bad press, they indeed had the last laugh. The fact that so many people didn’t get the joke and the level at which IWABO operates just tickled my funnybone silly. Hype is all fine and good, but the real punchline is that the new IWABO album delivers musically beyond all expectations.

Although there is an occasional flirtation with black metal, the sound of the new album is the same IWABO you always loved or hated. Spasmodic shifts of tempo blended perfectly with their aggressive mash-ups and wry sarcasm. Opening track “Next Visible Deliscious” straddles the line between tech deth, proggy deathcore and a PRIMUS like jam section in the middle. The sleeves of the band are all rolled up, revealing their entire bag of tricks to all comers. The first thing you notice about the song of the band is how much more defined and prominent the rhythm section is than ever before. “You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs’ Real Voices” has a sick heavy verse and an amazing chorus. The second verse finds the enchanting and limitless Krysta Cameron wailing on her brutal vocals. There is other assorted good weirdness in the track like surf guitar and grindcore. I have literally listened to this one song alone dozens of times since getting the album. “Deoderant Can’t Fix Ugly” is discordant, avant-garde and most of all wonderful. And yes, it does end with a gospel style chorus like a 1990’s RnB song. Although the entire band has improved individually and collectivley, I’d have to single out drummer Mike Montgomery for being excellent and particularly crushing. The actual song on the album with a black metal influence is “It is “bro” isn’t it?” which sounds like it could be an outtake from the current BLACK DAHLIA MURDER album. That is until the gorgeous chorus and angular guitar riffs come in. More surprises like well developed keyboard parts come to the forefront like never before. John Ganey and Steven Bradely are not just fine guitarists, they are sick songwriters and programmers to boot. “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket” flirts with techno and other oddities in and around a deathcore song structure.“Break it Down Camacho” is another song I can’t say enough good things about with it’s cool bass parts courtesy of Ricky Martin. Songs like “Stay to the Right” and “I’m Gonna Shoot” just rock and again show there is no boundary the band cannot shatter. The single “Karate Nipples” is great on repeated listens as well. Rounding out the proceedings with possibly the best track of them all in “Button It Up” with its subject matter as dark as its tone. Sorry to break it you haters, the joke is still on you!

RATING: 9.5 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
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Review: ION DISSONANCE – “Cursed” (Century Media)

Ion Dissonance has always been pretty high up on my list of what to spin on a regular basis. Between Breathing is Irrelevant (2003, Willotip) and Solace (2005, Abacus) they created a pretty large following in the tech and mathcore scene. But the release of Minus the Heard (Abacus) in 2007 nearly ruined that for them, because the album was full of watered down breakdowns that couldn’t even be considered off time, but more-so polyrhythmic. They lost a large fanbase with this (also due in part to the replacement of Gabriel McCaughry with Kevin McCaughry on vocals), but at the same time gained a lot of respect from today’s “deathcore” scene.

Fast forward to 2010, and Cursed is born. The band jumped to Century Media for this one and realized exactly what they had to do to make a solid record that would gain them respect in both worlds. Opening with a droning intro that is title track, they show hints of keeping it slow and steady, and then Boom: They kick in with the song “You People Are Messed Up,” which brings us back to their early days of absolutely assaulting their math influences, with some very subtle hints of Minus the Heard style breakdowns. They kick in next with “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same” showing no intentions of slowing down. The riffs sometimes seem a bit redundant, and you get the feeling that they keep repeating for the sake of repeating, but the feeling immediately disappears when the next riff comes into play. Just when you think this is going to be a nonstop speedway of tech and straight up heaviness, the Canadians pull off a bigger surprise then when they suddenly beat the American hockey team in the Olympics: In the last track, titled “Pallor,” the all of a sudden pull into a slow, somewhat atmospheric sounding riff, with guitars that have no distortion. As if that didn’t catch you off guard enough, a bigger surprise comes along, and when the song reaches the 1:36 mark, clean vocals emerge out of nowhere. Not only is this something Ion Dissonance has never done, but it actually sounds good, which is something a lot of todays heavy bands have a hard time pulling off.

The song titles bring questions to mind, though. Questions like did you put any thought into these titles at all? In my opinion, when the name of a song is “We Like To Call This One…Fuck Off,” it just screams lack of creativity. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re just trying to come off as ironic, but sorry boys, that’s not the best way to do so. Same goes for most of the lyrics when they are audible. There are some points where you can tell what he is saying without reading a lyric book, and they are definitely head scratchers. Sorry kids, but no chants like “Kill Yourself or Someone You Love” on this one.

Overall, I will say this album caught my unguarded attention. Musically it’s an improvement, definitely worth listening to. Lyrically, it’s something I would normally let pass, and I feel could use more originality. If this bothers you like it did to me, there’s always the ability to just not pay any attention to them. All in all, a great effort, and a sign that the band may possibly be heading in the right direction (backwards) in hopes of gaining back their original fanbase without losing what they’ve gained. Well played Canada, well played.

RATING:  6 / 10
By: Greg Mann