DION – Intelligent Design (2011)

DION - Intelligent Design (2011)


D-I-O-N is British guitarist Dion Smith (ex Mercury Rain) brainchild, formed in 2010, with a view of creating something completely different.
Actually, this is a UK / American project, as Smith has called Chandler Mogel (Outloud) to provide vocals, and New York session drummer Charlie ‘Z’ Zeleny (Blotted Science, Behold The Arctopus, Jordan Rudess Band) to handle drums.

Their debut “Intelligent Design” is indeed, an intelligent and atypical piece of music.
D-I-O-N style is difficult to describe, basically fits into neo prog or modern technical prog metal, but not exactly. Let’s say Modern Neo Prog / Melodic Rock.
The modern prog structures and heavy guitar riffs are there, but Smith blends his music with high doses of melody, including electronics, synths and electric pianos.
Add to this cocktail a monster and varied drum playing (Charlie Zeleny is awesome) and a melodic yet powerful vocalist as Chandler Mogel and you have, as Dion Smith wanted for this project, something completely different.

The overall sound is strong, but not metalized at all.
Dion Smith paints some intrincate sound textures with many instruments, playing occasional guitar solos, but working basically as an orchestrator.
Charlie Zeleny’s drumming is the real driving force of the music, playing terrific patterns and fills (he has auditioned to replace Mike Portnoy in Dream Theater). The beat sounds – especially the snare – are different between tracks, which makes the listen more interesting.
And Chandler Mogel is the responsible to give these songs vitality and melody. This guy is quickly becoming one of the best vocalists in the industry. His recent job on Outloud’s ‘Love Catastrophe’ is fantastic, and here confirms he has the uncanny ability to feel at home in any musical situation.

It would be tricky to comment a track-by-track on this particular album, as the songs and the musical style, as said, are uncommon, and an accurate description depends on your approach as listener.
But don’t let this appreciation scare you, “Intelligent Design” is not a ‘rare beast’ or an experimental project. The album flows easily, benefited by the 35 min. running time and a clear production.
The songs are short and certainly not exempted of melody, with a clinical and technical sound, but balanced by Vogel’s bright vocal timbre.
Sometimes you’re in the mood for some rockin’ emotional music, sometimes for a catchy melodic rocker. “Intelligent Design” fills the gap when you want to taste something different.
Really, Really Interesting.

01 – I Believe
02 – The Sign
03 – I Can Save You
04 – Broken
05 – Reborn
06 – Intelligent Design
07 – A New Star
08 – Killing Machine
09 – There’s Only Time
10 – Forever
11 – Someone

Chandler Mogel (Outloud) – Vocals
Dion Smith – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Synths, Programming
Charlie ‘Z’ Zeleny – Drums, Percussion


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