This is the second album from Third Ion, a progressive metal band.
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.
Third Ion have recently released their début album 13/8bit. Theirs is a brand of Progressive Metal that’s a little different form the norm and very enjoyable because of this. I downloaded the latest data on them…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
Hey, I’m Justin Bender, guitarist/producer for Third Ion, a progressive metal band full of nutty space nerds.
Give us a bit of history to Third Ion
I’ve know our drummer Aaron for about 5 years, and we always talked about doing a project together. We live about 6 hour drive from each other, so it took a while for us to get our shit together and actually start a band. Now that we have though, it has been snowballing and we have a really good pace going on. I’ve known Mike for a few years too, and he was my bass player of choice, even before a single riff was recorded. I am still so thrilled he wanted to start a band with Aaron and I! Basically the band officially formed around this time last year, once we figured out who we were going to have sing, and Tyler has been a great fit!
What are your influences?
Mainly Dream Theater, Meshuggah, Alice In Chains, Tool, Opeth, Faith No More, Pantera, Saga, Toto, Satriani, Rush, Katatonia,
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
A band from my area, Sparky, just put out an album called #Humanimation and it is incredible. I love it, and I can’t stop listening to it. I’m not just saying it because they are my friends either! It is legitimately one of my favourite records right now.
What did you want to achieve with your album?
Our main goal was to write whatever came to mind, with a really “no rules” approach, and to incorporate musically, visually and lyrically whatever nerdy things interested us at the time. I didn’t have huge hopes of getting signed or anything, I just really wanted to make this music for the love of it. The fact we got a deal and it’s been getting a lot of attention is a total plus, though, and if people enjoy it that makes me very happy.
Are you happy with the end result?
Absolutely!! I am especially proud of the artwork, which was done by my best friend. We are almost done writing the second album as well, and a lot of it is recorded already too, so as happy as I am with the first album, I haven’t sat back and really enjoyed it as I dove right into album two.
How does your songwriting process work?
I’ll drive to Aaron’s studio for the week and we will record drums and guitars as we write the music. It’s a very cool and open way of working. Very expressive, I love it. Plus, he brings out all my best ideas. There’s just something about him that makes me come up with guitar parts I would never come up with on my own. He is the best writing partner I have ever had, bar none. Due to this process, there are a LOT of “first take” magic moments that ended up on the final mix. That seems to happen more and more as we write, as well.
On 13/8Bit we managed to write one song together (PDM) with Mike all in one room, but him being in Vancouver makes that much more difficult. For album two he has contributed a ton of great riffs, he emailed us a bunch of ideas, that we have used. So then after Aaron and I track in Winnipeg, we send Mike the stems of what we did and he does bass and keys and sends it back for me to mix. I write the lyrics and Tyler comes up with most of the melodies. I can just put words on paper and trust that he will come up with something I love. It’s a very easy operation, all in all.
How and why did you decided to incorporate a video games/chiptune influence in your music?
We all really love the 8bit and 16bit classics that we grew up playing. I think every one of us knows Megaman 2 like the backs of our hands. Metal bands sing about all kinds of things from dragons to demons to mutilation and horror, so really it feels like there are no rules. Which we dig, so we incorporated it simply because we felt like it.
What can you tell us about the lyrics?
That’s another one of those “nerdy thing because I just felt like it” kind of answers. As an artist, I’ve always felt more comfortable with my guitar than with words. I feel like I can say more with music than lyrics, and I never really aspired to be a lyricist. When I listen to music, I rarely even pay attention to the message, I get absorbed in the sound of it all. So, being like that, I just write what comes to me and what interests me. I covered black holes, sci fi particle weapons, video games and even some politics on the first record.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
I think maybe Zero Mass because it’s the first song we wrote, and the main heavy tech riff with the little keyboard stings is just so fuckin’ cool. I’ll always be very proud of that one.
How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?
So far the next record has a lot more technical stuff, a lot more insane drum ideas. I plan to record more vocal harmonies, but maybe not, we’ll see how that plays out. We also want to do a concept record to cover the backstory of our mascot character “Dr. Zero” who is featured on the cover art. So, album three or four will be that album.
What’s next for Third Ion?
We have a few shows lined up for July but after that it’s just more work on album 2, and planning more shows for the end of the year, with hopes to tour more extensively in 2016.
This is the début album from Third Ion who are a Progressive Metal band.
Heavy Metal meets Chiptune? Well, mainly Heavy Metal to be honest. When the chiptune parts do appear they shouldn’t really work but amazingly they do, mainly because they don’t overdo it of course.
This is quite a mix of styles in some ways. The Progressive Metal/Rock aspect of their sound is a modern one yet they still carry obvious influences from older Progressive Rock. Some of the guitars have a modern, almost-Djent feel to them whilst others are pure 70’s inspired riffs with added distortion.
As well as this we have the obvious electronic/video-games influences that are not overused and instead just add some individuality to the pot.
There’s also an unexpected Grunge element to their sound. This manifests not only in the music but also in the vocals. There’s a kind of laid back, hazy feel to things that recalls bands of this type and era.
The musicianship on display here is first-rate, as is the recording. Importantly the songs themselves are well-written and the album has a kind of easy-listening vibe despite the frequent higher-energy and more upbeat sections.
This is a really enjoyable Progressive Metal album that’s a little different due to the mix of related styles. Recommended.