There’s something special about the angry American punk on show here from Ignite with their album ‘The War Against You’. The special thing is that this band have maintained the rage, with commentary on society and politics, throughout a career which must span the better part of twenty years. To me, this album is all about fighting; be it militarily, against society, against relationships, and against dumb decisions, but the band are no strangers to voicing their very politically aware opinions, and their support for everything, from Medecins Sans Frontieres,to environmental issues, while rallying against the political conundrum in the US. Over the years, I’ve heard Ignite called hardcore, hardcore/punk and even pop-punk, but to these ears, who grew up with Crass and the Buzzcocks, this album is punk. This album… this great album, adds to my belief that 2016 is the year of the punk.
This album continues the good fight with Zoli giving us clean vocals with unashamedly intelligent lyrics, but its not blistering, machine gun punk, it’s well balanced, and well thought out over the 13 tracks. It could be 14 tracks, as the last track is split and sung in what appears to be Hungarian, but lets call it 13 tracks of sensible, easy to listen to punk… but very moshable. The mix and production on this is top notch, and the blurb tells me the mixmaster was Cameron Webb, who was the main man with Motörhead’s last few albums, as well as Sum41, Pennywise, Megadeth and Disturbed. Explains why the recording is super-tight.
So lets get to the tracks, and I’ll pick out a few of the gems, in an album that really doesn’t have any duds. The third track, ‘This Is A War’ is a punk anthem. Hard riffing guitars taking us in the solid rapid drum beat and the anti-whatever lyrics:
“Each liberation is a licence to steal, but don’t be concerned your salvation is near”
This song is a beauty, and it is relentless in its grind and its message. That bass is up at the top of the mix, which may say a lot about the producer’s pedigree.
“This is a war, where we bury the truth, this is a war, a war against you”
That tells me that I’m not the only one who sits at home watching the same war in a different country thinking ‘what the fuck?’ Great track, and it’s one of many on an album that digs its claws into you.
‘Rise Up’ is a title not to be thrown about lightly. It brings expectations, and it delivers. It has the same kick as ‘This Is A War’, but this track drives even harder, and introduces a guitar riff that drags the feel to more hardcore/metal core. Those vocals are crystal clear, and the lyrics are still delivered with true belief. “I can’t turn my back and just walk away”, and I believe it, and I believe that this will become a mosh favourite. Just as you gather your breath we drive into ‘Where I’m From’, which is about growing up in a small town. This has a strong history, but its been dissolving away through lack everything, but at the same time, the government is ignoring their own people and fighting unfashionable, pointless wars, leaving no money. Strike a chord? Well it does for Ignite, as the song kicks off with:
“On these dirt roads we grew up strong, this is where I’m from, but there they go again war-mongering the bullets on their way”
This is pretty sad when you listen about people losing their way and the only option they have, the only growth business, is a war they don’t understand. Who gives a cracker if you understand politics or not, political crap like this drives good punk, which needs to rebel against something. In fact, punk is at its best when it rebels against everything. ‘Where I’m From’ is a very mature tune, from a well traveled band. The most poignant lyric is, “I’m just a small town refugee”. Great track.
‘How Is This Progress?’ swaggers in with a rock riff, then the rolling bass climbs back to dominate the mix. This is upbeat, up-tempo punk, and I can feel multiple crowd surfing lines forming. “We call this progress, how is this progress?” This song is a rallying call to rage against the destruction of nature, something that the band has dipped into many times in their past. Its a real throbber of a song, that goes as quickly as it came, but what a song. One of the best on the album, and it kicks the band into another gear. We drop into, ‘You Lie’ screamed, shouted, and spat at us, and it’s the closest we come to classic punk, with all instruments pushing against each other and ending in distortion. Those two tracks need to be played back to back on any live set. That is a sure-fire guarantee of getting the place going.
The last track on the album is ‘Work’, which is probably the ‘easy listening’ track on the album, but still manages to kick you in the balls, although much more gently than the other tracks. At around three minutes in, the song ends and there is a lull, then we drop into what appears to be a Hungarian version of ‘Where I’m From’, though I’m only guessing, as my Hungarian is not what it used to be.
How this band found time to put together this album is a mystery, and even more surprising, is that they have made an album this good. They are always either on tour, planning a tour, or working on side projects, but putting together ‘The War Against You’ in amongst all of that is pretty impressive, and highly recommended. The only suggestion I can make, is that this form of Californian punk would go down a storm here in Australia at the Unify Festival which is held in January each year. Come on guys, lets do this!
Zoli Teglas – Vocals
Brett Rasmussen – Bass
Brian Balchack – Guitar
Kevin Kilkenny – Guitar
Craig Anderson – Drums
Review by : Craig Grant