Ion Dissonance - Solace - Abacus Records 2005
Running Time: 41:46
My first experience with Ion Dissonance was a January 2003 show, also featuring Michigan's own Mutilated and Gutrot, as well as Pennsylvania grind merchants Circle Of Dead Children. The show was held in the "community center" of a youth-run collective known as Idle Kids at the time and, true to Michigan in January, it was so cold my testicles had begun a fearful journey northward, if you get my drift. When Ion Dissonance took the stage, however, I was floored by a band able to meld technical brilliance with passion, while making it look effortless. Playing material off of their upcoming debut, Breathing Is Irrelevant, - which most of the audience still hadn't heard - Ion Dissonance hurtled through a twenty-odd minute set like some unholy spawn of sexual congress between Pig Destroyer and Canvas Solaris, yet still managed to carve their own sound from the very air.
Of course, I never got around to picking up Breathing... , part of me fearing disappointment from a studio-shiny effort, all glossed up and devoid of feeling. Fast forward to the fall of 2005, and Solace has arrived to potentially fuck up many Top Ten lists for critics and fans alike. The scattershot delivery of 'Play Dead...And I'll Play Along' is catastrophic in the most favourable sense of the word, being equal parts slamming riffage and insane flailings. Only letting you up for a two-second breath, the pummeling begins once more with 'O.A.S.D.', which marries drill-press drumming to guitars that sound as if they were being pulled along against their will, lagging behind the beat, then being yanked forward. Vocally, Ion Dissonance is an apocalypse in the flesh, Gabriel McCaughry's frantic howl subsiding to spoken word, then spewing horrifically poignant lyrics with sniper accuracy. 'Nil :: Solaris' brings a greater meaning to the word devastation, Ion Dissonance dragging the corpse of metalcore through a cyclone fence, dropping the remains into a ditch, then setting the whole stinking mess on fire, all the while sounding like no one else in today's musical landscape. The pinnacle of Solace, to me, is 'Lecturing Raskolnikov (Or How To Properly Stab An Old Widow)', in which Dostoevsky's mammoth Crime And Punishment is mangled, compacted, then introduced to your solar plexus with all the subtlety of a point blank shotgun blast. Ion Dissonance shows their mastery of both slamming riffwork and uber-skilled musicianship in the stomping, staggering menace of 'Shut Up, I'm Trying To Worry', and brings things to a close with 'A Prelude Of Worse Things To Come'. 'A Prelude...' makes up for the inhuman speed of much of Solace, ending things with almost ritual drumming and Khanate-like drone, the lyrics spoken instead of screamed for the majority of the song, with all the quiet calm of a serial killer whispering sweet nothings in the ear of his next victim.
Solace is the musical equivalent of a pipe bomb going off in your skull. It's bands like Ion Dissonance - and albums like Solace - that give bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan a reason to sleep with one eye open.