Artist: Ion Dissonance
Album: Cast the First Stone
I remember it like it was yesterday; I was a bright-eyed high school graduate, finishing one of my last reviews before diving head first into undergraduate education. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time—at that point it was little more than a really good album—but it was actually what would turn out to be a defining release from a band whose works defined the more spastic, mathy end of deathcore. The year: 2010 (early August to be exact). The CD: Cursed, by none other than Montrealmathcore legends, Ion Dissonance.
Fast foreword six years and change: it turns out not too much has changed—including the unexpected and immensely anticipated return of Ion Dissonance to the heavy music community game. Their GoodFight Music debut, Cast the First Stone, in some ways, picks up right where Cursed left off: spastic, sinister and intense from start to finish—yet in other ways, it sees Ion Dissonance growing and changing with the times. To put it briefly, Cast the First Stone is pure fury; something akin to kicking a nest of hornets trained in military aviation—as the band lets loose with over half an hour of carefully written, creatively composed Dissonance and devastation, proving that even with six years off, there is still no denying this quintet their thrones when it comes to creating crushing, cruel and unusual heaviness.
There truly isn’t a lot to say for Ion Dissonance’s intimidating instrumentation that it (or the band’s towering reputation) can’t say for itself. From the raunchy kick-off to “Burdens” all the way until the first (and only) seconds of rest the listener gets at the onset of “Untitled II,” Ion Dissonance use blistering speed, terrifying technicality and ruthless aggression to get in the listener’s face and stay there. Percussionist Jean-Francois Richard is relentless—hammering away throughout the spazzy introductory number “Burdens” without stopping to breathe, bustling all the way through “To Expiate” and “To Lift the Dead Hand of the Past” with mile-a-minute fills and fleet footwork by the boatload. Even during the mellow minute-or-so reprieve the rest of the band gets during “Untitled II,” Richard still manages to keep at least a little busy, tediously beginning with a mellow, subtle drum line that builds into a bouncy, tom-heavy beat that will have the listener’s neck doing overtime. Where Richard’s rumbling percussion is mesmerizing in itself, bassist Dominic Grimard’s ability to keep time and add heft and weight to his more ethereal drum lines is truly impeccable. During off-the-wall numbers like “The Truth Will Set You Free” and the catchy, riff-heavy track “Ill Will,” Grimard’s bass bounces and booms alongside Richard’s riveting display of percussive prowess—serving as the ideal foundation for the fantastic fretwork of guitarists Sebastien Chaput and Antoine Lussier. This dynamic duo are back doing exactly what they do best—and if the insanely catchy riffs and flashy pieces of fretwork in “Ill Will” don’t convince the listener, then the jarring, brooding brutality of “D.A.B.D.A. State of Discomposure” or “Burdens” will. Chaput and Lussier are, bar none, two of the most pissed riffsmiths in the –core world—they established that fact on Cursed and they back it up tenfold on Cast the First Stone, as every ounce of Ion Dissonance’s latest effort is more pissed than the floor of a hockey stadium’s bathroom.
If you think Ion Dissonance’s devastating aggression is only evident in their instrumentation, then you have ten tracks (and an interlude) coming at you to prove you dead wrong. Frontman Kevin McCaughey is murderous—with every syllable he shouts sounding like tortured screams from a constipated Satan himself. Whether it’s the howled “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” that kicks off “Burdens” or the harsh emphasis placed on words like “insignificant” on “Ill Will,” McCaughey’s vocals are the picture perfect match for Ion Dissonance’s unimaginably oppressive instrumental onslaught. Dark, brooding, emotional (if you consider loathingas an emotion) yet curiously catchy throughout, McCaughy’s vocals are exemplary of the entirety of Cast the First Stone—yet another aggressive reminder of Ion Dissonance’s lofty, legendary status.
Truthfully, Ion Dissonance could have put out a half-hearted, “hey, we’re back” kind of album and it probably still would have garnered at least a 7/10 because it’s Ion Dissonance—and new Ion Dissonance at that. But instead, the band went all in—crafting a release that stands tall alongside—or even above—their previous works. Cast the First Stone refuses to compromise by any definition of the word. Stillspazzy and unpredictable, still sinister and unstoppable but newly reinvigorated with life and lacerating, lurid heaviness and groove, Cast the First Stone is, in one sentence, everything anyone could want from Ion Dissonance’s return.
For Fans Of: …It’s Ion Dissonance.
By: Connor Welsh