Ion Dissonance photo by Bright Web
Interview with vocalist Kevin McCaughey | By Brandon Ringo
Since their formation in 2001, Montreal’s Ion Dissonance has been known throughout the world of extreme metal for their astonishingly intense time signatures and the unabashedly vitriolic sound that has become their calling card. However, one of the unfortunate truths that a lot of bands must learn when making their living in the extreme metal underground is that life also moves quicker and with more complication than any guitar riff.
With the release of their new album, Cast the First Stone—out Nov. 18 on Good Fight Music—the band have finally ended a hiatus that started in 2010 after the release of their album, Cursed.
Of course, Ion Dissonance didn’t intend for their pause to be as lengthy as it was. What started out as a much-needed break simply escalated very quickly. “We knew we wanted to take some time off after the touring cycle for Cursed, but we didn’t know the break would be that long either,” vocalist Kevin McCaughey admits. “After that flop of a tour in the U.S. during the fall months of 2010, we were somewhat fed up with the current state of affairs regarding our band, the scene, and how it evolved since the last time we were out that way.”
“We are fully conscious that we have a large part to play in the matter, considering how we gave little to no signs of life during this time. We wanted to concentrate on our individual lives for a bit,” McCaughey explains. “I took on university courses, three of us bought homes, and our drummer Jean[-François Richard] got married. We are older now than we were when the band started out. It’s therefore normal for us to say that our priorities evolved with age. We still love making music and getting it out there, but we simply have less time than we did beforehand to do so.”
Despite the limited amount of time they have to devote to music, the band’s creative fire never completely went out, and suddenly, it erupted into an inferno. “In August of 2015, we lived an important moment together as a band during [Heavy Montréal], a summer festival in our hometown,” McCaughey recalls. “The reaction of the crowd, our families, and our friends was more than we had anticipated, and I guess you could say that the resurgence sparked the creative process for what is now Cast the First Stone. After the festival, the writing process kicked into full gear, and a few months later, we were set to record the album. The mood was totally positive too. We were all ready to tackle the project head on, and that’s exactly how we went about it.”
While it wasn’t until after that performance that the process kicked into high-gear, McCaughey reveals that it actually started much sooner. “Most of the original songs for Cast the First Stone were written from 2011 to 2014. Every now and then, ideas would get tossed around and new songs surfaced,” he confirms. “When the writing process became serious and meetings were held on the regular, we decided to scrap approximately 80 percent of what was written to start over fresh. Only bits and pieces were kept and/or used to create new songs that eventually made it to the record.”
One of the trappings that often ensconces veteran metal and deathcore bands who have been away for a while is the need to “update” their sound. Fortunately, Ion Dissonance only had to look inward to find more than enough stylistic inspiration. “The sound and style we we’re going for is the same one that we strived to achieve when we released Cursed in 2010,” McCaughey asserts. “Ion Dissonance has always had its unique sound with custom tuning. This time around, we wanted to keep the same sound yet create an album that includes all the elements of our previous work, all the while incorporating certain elements which we had not yet touched upon. We wanted to create a record that was fast-paced, pissed off, and technical. The writing process was totally organic.”
While McCaughey is reticent to mix the band in with the deathcore and djent scenes, he does admit that the nostalgia for their band from members and fans alike has been continually rewarding. “I would speak about how the genre evolved over the course of the last five to six years, but I honestly cannot say much about it considering I really have not paid much attention to what was going on in the scene over that period,” he concedes. “I can, however, say that I have noticed a rise in bands from a decade ago coming back to life in the last year or so, and I find that really cool. It’s nice to be able to backtrack to the passions we had growing up and to just be careless young adults again for a little while.”