Classical heavy/power metal from USA, full-length discography of three albums released between 2004-2009.
Well this is a hell of a nice surprise. Ignitor are a new band from Texas, featuring Agony Column's Batlord on guitar and former Autumn Tears beauty Erika Swinnich on lead vocals. "Take To The Sky" is their first demo, and it is completely awesome.
There just can not be enough bands doing this kind of good old back to basics Heavy Fucking Metal for my money. Ignitor call to mind classic Judas Priest, Maiden, or even Manilla Road at their most pugilistic. I found myself reminded quite a bit of fellow Texans Aska, or even Icarus Witch, as their brass-knuckled riff style is very similar, though Ignitor have no trace of progressive tendencies anywhere – they just kick ass full steam ahead. Starting off with the catchy headbang-festival of "Demon Slayer" I was all smiles, as this is just first-rate old school metal all the way, with a chorus you'll be singing along with before the song is even half-over. Second track "Execution" is a bit of a let-down after that, as while it has some good parts, the song is slightly 'rockier', and has rather pedantic anti-W lyrics. "Grey Ghost" is what passes for a slow song with this band, really more of an epic in the vein of old Maiden or even early Fates Warning. The title cut is exactly what I expected: a full-speed barn burner with Halford-style wailing vocals. And speaking of vocals, for a chick who sang with such a gothy/classical band as Autumn Tears, Erika fucking wails on this disc. She actually sounds almost spot-on like Geddy Lee in the old days, as in "Fly By Night" old, but she powers it out like Geddy never did.
"The Last King Tiger" may be my favorite song here, as it showcases what this band can really do: heavy riffs, slower crunch trading off with speedy careen, and a chorus you can't stop singing. Killer fucking tune. When I first heard "Lean Mean Leather Machine" I said 'now I've heard everything: a vampire biker chick song'. It is that, and it kills, if not as hard as some of the other stuff here.
If you are lamenting the loss of the old days of US-made metal, then you have to get ahold of this, as it is one of the best slabs of American steel I have ever heard. I certainly hope this band gets a deal so they can put out a real CD, because I will be first in line to get that fucker, believe me. Even if they never appear again, "Take To The Sky" will become one of those sought after underground gems spoken of in hushed tones by those who have been lucky enough to hear find it. Ignitor are fucking cool, and I hope this is not the last we hear from them.
2004 Take To The Sky At 320k
2007 Road Of Bones At Vbr
2009 The Spider Queen At 320k
Ignitor sees the return of a pair of thrash metal icons to the fold; guitarist Batlord (i.e. Stewart Lawrence) of cajun redneck thrashers Agony Column has been with this band for all three of their albums, and ex-Watchtower screamer Jason McMaster replaces former female vocalist Erika Swinnich. Those accustomed to McMaster know what to expect, an over the top performance from his shrieking, cutting vocals, and they can often prove distracting on The Spider Queen, though it is interesting to hear his various ranges colliding across the tracks.
As for the band, they perform an old school US power/speed metal that recalls bands like Omen, Savage Grace, or Lizzy Borden, but with a modern tone and little propensity to fly off the handle (McMaster has that covered). The riffing is constrained and fits the retrogression of the band, but there are some really bad tracks on the album that soil even its stronger moments. Where "Evil Calling" and title track "The Spider Queen" might adequately rock out the nostalgia for melodic 80s power and horrible cover art, you have a track like "I Never Knew", with its lamenting guitars and really bad vocals over the verse. The vocals just feel detached on a number of the tracks, absurd despite McMaster's capabilities.
The album has a moderate mix with flowing, melodic guitars and crashing drums, but I often don't feel they support McMaster's insanity, as he weaves through snarls, wavering lower range lines, and a Fleming Ronsdorf (ex-Artillery) shriek. It's not quite the ironic metal mockery of, say, Three Inches of Blood, but it did not feel focused to my ears.
Highlights: Evil Calling, The Spider Queen, Rune of Power.