"Ion Vein"

(Majesphere/Mortal Music)

01. Fools Parade
02. Seamless (A Transition of the Mind)
03. Enough
04. This is Me
05. Face the Truth
06. Love/Hate
07. Anger Inside
08. Take Me From This Dream
09. Alone
10. The Will of One
11. In the End
12. Twist of Fate

RATING: 8/10

Originally known as LATENT FURY when first coming together in the late eighties, multi-instrumentalist Chris Lotesto has soldiered on over the years with ION VEIN, keeping things largely centralized to his wares after weathering multiple lineup changes over the years. He's had a trusted drummer in the way of Chuck White since 2003 and an agreeable singer, Scott Featherstone, since 2010. Rich Knight has recently been joining the band onstage for live gigs, while previous bassist Rob Such is unaccounted for on the band's self-titled new album. For those following Lotesto and ION VEIN, this is another concrete outing full of power bombs, agro chuffing and a few prog tricks in between.

The double kicked gallop from Chuck White launching "Fools Parade" gets the album rolling with a proper punch, and though it's not as fast, the subsequent track "Seamless (A Transition of the Mind)" is just as heavy in its own right. The bass pumps from session guest and co-songwriter Brian Gordon sets "Seamless" on a course of interchanging tempos, the best coming as Chuck White increases his floor tom bpms and Chris Lotesto shreds in front of him. Lotesto's sharp solo is given extra flight by Scott Featherstone's alto grazing.

Getting a little trickier with "Enough" by mixing a power metal stomp with lofting acoustic breezes on the verses, the progressions Lotesto and company trail through are well-plotted and Chuck White keeps the altering courses straight-lined at all times. "This is Me" chugs along to a slower rhythm, but the verse riffs are some of the best of the album (along with "Take Me From This Dream" and "The Will of One") even if not shoved with full force. The song works itself as a self-empowerment proto anthem and should easily bait ION VEIN's fans to wail along to it. "Face the Truth" afterwards is given a heavier dose of riff plugs and artful guitar lines from Chris Lotesto for what evolves into a bittersweet power jam in which the muse plies for personal redemption.

"Love/Hate" is one the album's real burners, recalling the hammering groove of "Fools Parade" as Chuck White, Chris Lotesto and Brian Gordon fluidly blitz the verses and switch to a slower throb on the choruses while Scott Featherstone huffs along. "Anger Inside" begins with a slow seethe on the intro as Lotesto peels off a short solo to give figurative representation of the song's title before Featherstone issues the word "anger" like a mantra. The song then bulls ahead rapidly for what seems like forever before the bridge and chorus ever show. Again, ION VEIN fans are going to be growling along with Scott Featherstone here before the song takes a quick jump off the track for a percussion splash before raging off once again.

The six-minute "Alone" feels like a ballad in the making, but it morphs into a power pumper with a protracted prog segue of shifting tones and tempos leading up to Chris Lotesto's ripper of a solo and finally, a sedate lullaby to finish off with.

Even after all these years, ION VEIN may as well be considered a well-kept secret in today's metal underground. Chris Lotesto knows damn well what he's doing and he has personnel around him (permanent and non) to give this album a tight, professional kick. Mastered by the famed Alan Douches, this is as solid as it gets for Lotesto's theory-mixed thread of power metal.


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