Third Ion’s début album 13/8bit was an atypical slice of progressive metal that took a lot of inspiration from video games and chiptune. It shouldn’t have worked, by all rights, but in the band’s skilful hands the album avoided becoming some nonsense novelty and instead they produced an enjoyable 55 minutes of music that offered the listener something a little different.
So what’s changed? Well, they now have a new singer – Dave Padden – and I must say that this is quite an exciting prospect, as I love his work in Annihilator. As always, his vocals are top-drawer, full of personality and confidence. He knows how to sing and easily rises to the challenge of Third Ion.
The band sound a bit heavier in places on Biolith, although all of the colourful melodies and bright textures that their music has remains intact.
The video games influences that ran rampant throughout their début album are less overt this time, seeming to merge with more of a sci-fi theme. To be honest I think it’s for the best, too. These influences certainly still play a part in the band’s sound, for sure, but these elements sound more mature in their realisation on Biolith, and the songs benefit from this development greatly.
As for the songs themselves, the band acquit themselves nicely. These tracks are sometimes-complex progressive metal that sees Third Ion exploring the needs of the music in more ways than one. Sometimes it’s drawn-out and atmospheric, sometimes it’s reined in and straightforward. Frequently it’s both and somewhere in between. This makes for music that has a lot going on with it, and it takes many spins to start scratching the surface of everything that’s here.
As you would expect from an album like this, the musicianship is exemplary, with all manner of technical flourishes included in the music. This is true of all of the instruments; the guitars and keyboards may steal the limelight a lot of the time, but the drum and bass contributions are also hugely important.
So, Third Ion have returned, new singer and new album in tow. I liked the first one, but I have to say that Biolith is a strong, large step forward. Very impressive and very enjoyable overall.