Road of Bones

Cruz del Sur
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Death on the Road (intro)
02. Road of Bones
03. Scarlet Enigma
04. March to the Guillotine
05. Wings of the Blackheart
06. Hymn of Erin
07. Phoenix
08. Broken Glass
09. Castle In the Clouds
10. God of Vengeance
11. Reinheitzgebot

A confession: even if I wanted to, I don't think it'd be physically possible for me to give a bad rating to a band featuring an ex-member of AGONY COLUMN. Stuart "Bat Lord" Laurence was part of that criminally underrated Texas band of the late 1980s, whose freaked-out peckerwood dirt holler goth/thrash flew right over the heads of just about everyone at the time. Surprising to see him show up nearly 20 years later in this traditionally-minded, riff-tastic, utterly mighty and righteous dungeon-metal act — but a pleasant surprise, to be sure. (Payola time: send me a copy of that third AGONY COLUMN CD and I'll give the next IGNITOR a 12, man…)

Anyway, on to the business at hand: IGNITOR doth indeed verily fucking rock. After all, they're part of Cruz del Sur's increasingly impressive roster of bands who mine metal's past glories without ever coming off as ironic, tacky or nudge-wink retro. And if you've fallen under the spell of SLOUGH FEG, PHARAOH, or BIBLE OF THE DEVIL's vinyl-and-denim aroma, IGNITOR is definitely gonna be a band you shit your pants over. Vocalist Erika (formerly of AUTUMN TEARS) has a great combination of range and rage, able to deliver power, attitude and melody in equal doses. In a just world she'd be mentioned in the same breath as Doro Pesch — she's no fainting Goth-metal wisp or operatic diva, this chick's got some damn grit to her voice!

Musically, these guys mine all the primal metal influences, and are performing the same alchemy in 2007 that bands like METAL CHURCH and ARMORED SAINT did over 20 years ago – that is to say, they're crafting American power metal in the classic sense, the kind that straddles hard rock and never forgets the hooks and the memorable melodies. And IGNITOR keep things lean, mean and crackling with energy — songs like "Broken Glass" and "March to the Guillotine" are like audio caffeine, hard-charging and triumphant, never opting for sedate metal grandeur when they can play insistently and pack dense riffs full of fierce downpicking and well-placed triplets. It doesn't generally gallop in that European way, but the music still pushes forth inexorably, with an infectious enthusiasm that'll be hard for any true metal fan to resist.

To say "Road of Bones" would have fit into any record-store metal section in 1985 is no insult; IGNITOR's songs have that timeless feel about them, and the band doesn't use their proud traditionalism as an excuse for mediocre rehashing. This is the energetic, lusty sound of a new and eager band who are ridiculously fired up to be alive, no matter what the decade.

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