Thoughts of Ionesco - The Scar Is Our Watermark [CD/DVD] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Thoughts of Ionesco

The Scar Is Our Watermark [CD/DVD] (2006)

Seventh Rule

An introduction to the band, a collection for completists. This package serves as both. The CD includes 10 tracks from the band's entire catalog and five tracks that were previously unreleased. The DVD is a compiled documentary featuring live footage from VHS tapes and past and present interviews with members of the band, including Sean, Nathan, Brian, and Derek Grant (Suicide Machines, Alkaline Trio), the latter being a substitute drummer for Brian during one of the three times Brian left, or was asked to leave. The band itself self-deconstructed over the three years it was active, 1996-1999. Fueled by booze, drugs, mental instability, and furious alienation, Thoughts of Ionesco did their best to burn every bridge and cause destruction, on and off the stage.

Singer/guitarist Sean H. from the liner notes: "Thoughts of Ionesco isn't really something one could be entirely proud of, it's much more like snaking patches of scar tissue that you might hide from most, maybe occasionally revealing your wounds with a sick kind of pride to those who understand. We were fucked up kids who were smart enough to seek art as our consolation for having nowhere to turn. We weren't scenesters; we weren't punk, we weren't New York sophisticates; we were a small band of Detroit area rejects and depressives who meant every moment of it... We wanted to be the heaviest and most emotionally wrenching band and this is what we came up with."

As the documentary explains, the band is most influenced by free jazz and Black Flag, and a one-time drummer explained the influences as "a lot of aggressive music, a lot of expressive music." And that's really the best I can do to describe the music presented. Each player seems to try to push their instrument to the absolute limits, playing them as loud and violent as they can. Their tempos dwell in oppressive chugging breakdowns, placing them closer to sludge metal than hardcore, even when charging through double time beats. The riffs are the heaviest riffs I have ever heard in my life.

I had no idea who this band was until this release, but I guess you could consider me a convert. Musically, these songs are the most complex I've ever heard, but never do they really seem distracting or annoying, like dudes flexing their riff muscles for the hell of it. And though this band may not have caused a huge direct influence, they were way ahead of their time.

This may be the first time a record has ever made me feel ill in my stomach. Included are four tracks from For Detroit, from Addiction, three from A Skin Historic, two from And Then There Was Motion..., one from their demo, and five unreleased tracks, including a version of Bad Brains' "I," played better than the original band ever did.

And yeah, I don't like "Best of" and "Greatest Hits" collections, but this album really flows together and a third of the songs are not available anywhere else, not to mention the DVD, which is an hour and a half long and extremely interesting from start to finish. And now I know I have to track down all of the band's previous releases. These are all the facts that I was presented with, but Scott, the guy who put this collection out, had this to say: "When they were at their best, they were way ahead of their time and I constantly felt my personal health was in danger at their shows..." So take a look at this release if you want to, delivered from one fan to another. Spread the gospel.