The beginning of Ignite sounds like Shihad are poised to deliver their most powerful album since Churn. ‘The Final Year Of The Universe’ is appropriately apocalyptic and doomy, and recaptures some of the group’s early promise, when they were still churning on the post-industrial hard rock template that Killing Joke had come up with a decade before.
‘Lead Or Follow’ is a single, and despite incorporating vocal harmonies and conventional chorus/melody, it has real bite and energy, and manages to escape the blandness that onset the group when they were busy pandering to the American market.
It’s becoming increasingly hard to accept a premise like ‘I’m A Void’ in a band of 30-somethings who have settled down with wives and kids, but it’s a cool riff and once again, has a certain apocalyptic energy that vibes off Killing Joke.
It all starts to go horribly wrong with ‘In The Future’, a half-formed idea of a song that remains unresolved; and then ‘Sleepeater’, another single with a kicker riff that’s otherwise just too predictable, too contained in its restrictive format.
Then the title tune, which turns out to be their attempt at a power ballad, which isn’t bad but means the album loses any impetus it has built up. ‘Engage’ is back to the crashing guitar anger, but its humdrum lyrics come on like a seminar from a Mind-Body-Spirit festival.
The last three tracks fail to rescue this fatally derailed record. Replacing apocalyptic lyrics with relationship scenarios shears away the potency of the sonic attack. On ‘Nemesis (Dark Star)’ Jon Toogood rails “Everybody’s got it in for me” like a victim, not the ferocious rock God his fans want to picture him as, and it has to be said: all the best riffs are at the beginning of the album
Ignite is like a damp Chinese firework that lets out a brilliant multicolour puff of promise, and then dies in the blackness of the November night sky. While they seem to want to recapture their firepower, Shihad end up sounding like a product of the Hutt Valley – too power-arena, too Bogan. GARY STEEL
Sound = 3/5
Music = 3/5