Originally written by Erik Thomas
So after the divisive Minus the Herd that saw Canada’s Ion Dissonance forsake their oppressively heavy, chaotic strains of Breathing is Irrelevant and Solace in favor of a more controlled (though still heavy and for me, very enjoyable) hardcore-ish lurch, Ion Dissonance is indeed back.
Returning to their more complex, virulent and violent sound, but still having some of the cavernous lope of Minus the Herd, Cursed sees Ion Dissonance arguably take up the mantle left by the break-up of Despised Icon, minus the pig squeals. As with the band’s first two efforts, Cursed is at times insanely jarring; a vortex of discordant, grinding blasts and mathcore-ridden, squealing guitars that will peel skin. Throw in some absolutely massive moments of The Acacia Strain-like heft, and the result is a seismic, tectonic-plate-shifting album of sheer heaviness.
Adding to the more throwback sound is vocalist Kevin McCaughey, who is more vitriolic and seething than on Minus the Herd, and the result is an often overwhelming album that might make your brain leak out of your ears. Cursed is one of those albums where you catch yourself shuddering, saying “holy shit, that’s heavy” out loud to yourself whether in public on headphones or alone in the privacy of your own home. I caught myself grimacing and cringing several times throughout Cursed’s mix of dense rumbles and jagged, screeching mathcore.
Singling out standout moments in such a vitriolic assault is virtually impossible amid the tangible sonic torque that Cursed delivers to your ears. From the opening lurch of “Cursed” (which initially hints at a Minus the Herd tone) to the vortex of second track “You People Are Messed Up” (which forcefully signals a return to Solace) to the palpable heft that closes the utterly devastating “This is the Last time I Repeat Myself” to the head-splitting chaos of “No Care Ever” and “After Everything That’s Happened, What did you Expect”, the album is simply relentless. And that’s all in the first half alone.
Even with their return to their earlier sound, there’s still a few lurching Minus the Herd moments, such as “We Like to Call This one….Fuck Off”, “Can Someone Please Explain This to Me”, “Disaster in Sight” ?”, or the god-awfully heavy “This is Considered Mere Formality”, but even then, it’s still far more vehement, caustic and frenzied. The only slight eyebrow raisers come at the end of the album: the 8-minute penultimate track “They’ll Never Know” which starts with some debilitating heft before entering several minutes of programming, spoken words and ambient noise, and “Pallor” delivers some rather odd clean vocals amidst some otherwise-crippling grooves.
My only real complaint about Cursed isn’t with the music but with the flimsy-assed, super-delicate digipack it comes packaged in. It’s easily the most thin and disposable put-together digipack I’ve ever owned and hardly fitting for one of 2010’s most destructive albums.
Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and take 12 Advil and get an icepack. Welcome the fuck back, Ion Dissonance.