Sunday, 17 January 2016

Album Review: A War Against You by Ignite

Written by Dave Chivers

Is the real life? Is this just fantasy? How much does frontman Zoli sound like Freddie Mercury? The opening track, aptly titled Begin Again, quickly shows that Ignite are back and they mean business. Like Bohemian Rhapsody, there are some impressive 3-way harmonies (Zoli over Zoli?) belting out the chorus straight away and it left me feeling very optimistic.

Nothing Can Stop Me keeps the posi-vibes flowing, fully charged with punk rock energy. In my mind at least, it would fit well over a classic training montage.

I was less certain about This Is A War, which I'd streamed when it was first available in December. It's certainly not a weak song but now having heard the other tracks, I feel they should have chosen another to gain more interest. I wasn't expecting too much from the album because that was all I had to go on.

The gang vocals on Oh No Not Again are very catchy (We Will Rock You?) and I'm sure this will be a firm crowd favourite. Ok, they're not the greatest lyrics and I'm sure 'oh no' doesn't accurately reflect the feelings of desperate residents as another army marches into their city, but it is radio friendly.

As a bassist myself, the bass strumming intro pricked my ears up instantly in Alive. The chorus is a tad obvious, with the ‘woahs’ but, really, what’s a good punk rock album without ‘woahs’?

Next up is the very solid You Saved Me. This will get your head rocking so hard your neck will ache for days. Unfortunately, and I’m sorry to share my pain with you, someone pointed out to me that ‘you saved me’ sounds a lot like ‘you’re gonna be the one that saves me’ from Oasis’s Wonderwall. Thankfully it still hasn’t stopped me from singing along.

Revolution is a common theme for punkers and Rise Up is enough to inspire some kind of action, albeit it's unlikely to be more than a Twitter or Facebook rant about the state of this country and delayed public transport. Regardless, this is a winner and I particularly love the pre-chorus/chorus - 'I can't turn my back and just walk away!'

Forget Tower Bridge! Forget the Golden Gate Bridge or Sydney Harbour Bridge! They fade into insignificance when held up against The Suffering bridge. I look forward to it on every listen. The harmonies are perfectly placed and it has a guitar ‘solo’ leading up to it.

Zoli appears to be a very passionate guy, which is a useful trait for anyone who wants to write songs. A key area of concern for him is the environment and in How Is This Progress? he directly challenges the false assumption that the situation is improving. I appreciate the sentiment but nothing could be more influential than the Captain Planet theme tune.

Lyrics about war, invasions and the struggles of refugees trying to find better lives would be poignant at any time in this century (and the last) but given the current situation in Syria, recent terrorist attacks, and the politics of immigration, Ignite have captured the zeitgeist of 2016.

I'd heard the intro to You Lie a few times prior to buying the album as it was used in some promotional clips. It was the perfect choice really; the rolling drums and frantic guitars tell you to wake up and pay attention because something big is about to happen. There’s no doubt that the full song packs a punch and although the chorus was a little underwhelming for me, the distorted bass and thrashing drums do make this track stand out.

Descend, the penultimate and one of the more melodic tracks, seems to be about how family stick by you despite your misdemeanours – easily relatable for most punk rock kids. This is my personal favourite due to the extremely catchy chorus, although the whole album is laden with brilliant hooks.

As if to give the drummer a break for all his vigorous effort thus far, Work closes the album (almost – don’t forget the secret track) with guitars and vocals only. Once again, the harmonies provide something special for listeners and lighters/mobiles will be held high for this one live. The wait was definitely worth it and I'm sure Ignite are very happy with what they've created here. They shouldn't have to become a Queen tribute act any time soon. Time will tell if it ages as well as Our Darkest Days but it’s certainly got the potential to. I've had it playing on repeat since release and I haven't even felt like skipping a track, which is no small thing. If, like me, you need your punk rock batteries recharging, buy this album and get to a show (26th Jan at Camden Underworld).

Buy A War Against You here:

Like Ignite here: