Perhaps Minus the Herd refers to the hordes of bands mining chaotic metalcore now. Bands everywhere are mixing death metal, grindcore, math metal, and drippy logos like it ain't a thang. The proliferation of this abrasive angularity is so pervasive that what was once brutal is now just another MySpace profile.
Thus, the album title is apt. If its peers want to stick elbows in your eye, then Ion Dissonance jams in the rest of its arm – and twists it around for good measure. The Montreal band has always excelled at punishing physicality (see previous albums Breathing Is Irrelevant and Solace). However, on its new album, Ion Dissonance hones its attack. Instead of mixed martial arts, the band now takes the fight to the ground.
The result: an album-length breakdown that doesn't suck. In a world of hardcore bands dropping breakdowns willy-nilly, Ion Dissonance has turned them into viable bases for songs. Now, songs are like slowly turning screws, grinding riffs through odd meters. Meshuggah comes to mind, but while its approach comes from mutated thrash, Ion Dissonance comes from the "-core" angle. No more random blasting – now it's all slow and low.
Amazingly, the album doesn't feel like a bunch of breakdowns strung together. In "You Shouldn't Be Alive," dissonance pulses wildly amongst bruised splotches of chords. "Scorn Haven" would make Dimebag Darrell proud, revolving around a harsh, downward bend. "Of Me…Nobody Is Safe" slices ascending runs through a cement-shoed undertow. An untitled interlude even injects some industrial atmosphere.
New singer Kevin McCaughey isn't too different from the previous ghost in this machine, but his vocals are appropriately feral. The overall attack is what counts – lean, mean, and a step ahead of the pack. While other bands prance and flail in girls' jeans, Ion Dissonance grimly delivers a beatdown in first gear.