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