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Third Ion: Biolith

Canadian/American outfit Third Ion debuted in 2015 with 13/8Bit, an album of progressive metal inspired by video games. That choice in itself proved a love it or loathe it move, some critics joyful at the strong, bleepy-bloopy game sounds incorporated into the music, many, such as SoT's very own Simon Bray, decidedly nonplussed. However even with those split camps, there was a third group to which I belonged, namely those who, with no love of gaming, became immediately disinterested by the concept and moved on without hearing a note. So when Biolith appeared in my review pile there was a lot of humming and hawing on my part… a short while later and BLAM! This little beauty exploded in my CD player, a few short intro's and the occasional keyboard motif (and possibly the lyrics?) the only obvious points now alluding to the gaming crossover.

So what's left? Well a mighty twisting, turning wallop of progressive metal that certainly falls into the heavy, technical categories, although the addition of ex-Annihilator frontman Dave Padden brings enough melody to make the joining of uncompromising and accommodating, utterly irresistible. Utilising a mainly clean attack, but not afraid to add a harsh bite from time to time, the singer offers up sounds that wouldn't be out of place in an Opeth/Soundgarden/Clutch crossover and somehow marries it expertly to the darting, pounding, searing heavy progression it fronts. He's nothing short of sensational.

Thankfully the band don't let him down, the sharp, pinpoint and surprisingly varied fare thoroughly compelling. The likes of Symphony X, or even Pagan's Mind at times evoked and yet Third Ion are definitely less about the chorus or in adding any sort of laid back respite to their sound – although a Spanish guitar interlude in the middle of the album's title track is a pleasant shock. Instead the guitar, keys and bass jostle and joust in the most cohesive manner, while drummer Aaron Edgar hits the heights over and over, his ability to drive the songs on and add an individual slant to proceedings impressive indeed. Something that can be said throughout, "State Of Flux" an immediate and uncompromising tumble of drums and fret bursts, while the sharp riffs and cymbal pops of "Illogical" snag the attention every time. This track does admittedly decide to take the foot off the gas ever so slightly, allowing Padden the room to stretch out in a remarkably restrained fashion, although he's equally adept at matching the guitar and bass battle of "Temporal Divide".

If, like me, you were put off by the thought of the gimmicky gaming noises this band's debut reportedly offered up, put those worries aside and revel in Biolith, an excellent, hard hitting progressive metal album that satisfies on a variety of levels. I'm heading back with an open mind to check out that first album and I guess you'll do likewise once you sample Biolith.

Track Listing
1. State of Flux
2. Cosmic Delusion
3. Biolith
4. Status Undetermined
5. Illogical
6. Lesson Burned
7. Temporal Divide
8. Corpus Solaris

Added: December 18th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Third Ion online
Hits: 1870
Language: english

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