THIRD ION - 13/8Bit

Third Ion - 13/8Bit

8 songs
53:55 minutes
***** **


With two members having played with Canadian bands Into Eternity and The Devin Townsend Band, it should be clear from the start that Third Ion have to play some kind of progressive metal. As the info sheet claims, their mutual interest in prog, video games and science should make for quite a brainy stew. The video game influence is mirrored in the ingenious cover artwork which is designed like a vintage Game Boy cartridge packaging. All of the songs will later also be released as 8-bit renditions, but for now those influences are only marginal, although the opener / title track starts with a cute 8-bit intro. But thatís not the only special thing about this track, which is written entirely in 13/8 time signature. Now thatís what I call progressive!

The main creative forces behind Third Ion are band founders Justin Bender who used to play guitar with Canadian metal veterans Into Eternity and drummer Aaron Edgar who is editor in chief of Drums Etc. magazine. Itís especially the latter whose ultra-precise drumming and Łber-complex rhythms give the music a lot of charm. Third Ion try hard never to drown in opaque self-indulgence by never neglecting the songwriting itself. A lot of the material is therefore quite catchy on the surface and often reveals its intricacies only later on in the song where all of a sudden an unexpected break surprises with strange guitar, bass or drum parts.

As much as I am praising the bandís willingness to combine technical progressive metal with more mainstream melodies, it is often the latter that are too close to being just too ordinary. Vocalist Tyler Gilbert definitely doesnít have a bad voice, but he would be a better fit in a post grunge or modern metal band. My favourite tracks are the weirder ones like the title track with its unusual time signature, the staccato rhythmed Zero Mass and the concluding quasi-instrumental Van hAlien, but the fourteen minute monster track Time Lapse Beta definitely also has a lot to offer and is probably the band showing off all their different sides.

After listening repeatedly to 13/8Bit, I have to admit that Canadian newcomers Third Ion have delivered a respectable debut album. The technical abilities of the band members are undisputable, now they only need to combine their progressive side more seamlessly with their melodic alter ego. Letís hope the former will eventually dominate, if not entirely eradicate, the latter.

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