Album Review: Shihad Ignite

By Scott Kara

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Shihad fires up again with  Ignite.  Photo / Supplied
Shihad fires up again with Ignite. Photo / Supplied

Rating: 4/5
Verdict: Eight albums in, still firing on all cylinders

Ignite starts unlike any Shihad album has before. Yes, they've come up with long songs before in their 22 years together but The Final Year of the Universe, a lurching and melodic six-minute plus chugger, acts as a staunch strainer post at the start of their eighth album. It's heavy, solid, and builds expectation. It lets you know you're in for something different from Beautiful Machine, which was softer and heavier on the synth.

That album was the band's most lightweight and inviting since the bouncier moments of the Fish album - and Ignite fires Shihad up again. Not that it's pummelling and abrasive like 90s classics Derail or Gimme Gimme, although I'm A Void (a relentless and arcing beast), Nemesis (Dark Star) (a trashy and punky track similar in mood to 2005's Love Is the New Hate), and The Final Year of the Universe (whose working title was, rather fittingly, Massive Sabbath) give it a fair nudge.

It's no wonder the band felt inspired to play the Killjoy and The General Electric shows recently, as the overall dynamic here is heavy and harrowing, while still reeling off catchy, and often intricate nail bomb riffs.

Even the two singles, Sleepeater, with its head-nodding floppy-fringe beat, and the more mangled and electric groove of Lead Or Follow (about frontman Jon Toogood's problems with procrastinating), have one foot planted in the mongrel position and the other in a melodic and soulful stance.

Elsewhere, the title track is a lilting and dreamy soul-searcher, then there's the more frenetic Engage, with its synthesiser drones and high beams, and last track Cold Heart is part stomper, part exotic, searing rocker, which finds Toogood in fine lecturing form with the line, "I wish I had the time you waste".

The thing is, now that the band have risen to the lofty heights of winning the New Zealand Herald Legacy Award, and being inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, we might just have to start listening to that lippy and cheeky Toogood.

One thing's for sure, Ignite proves that the award - and a place in the hallowed musical halls - is well deserved because no other New Zealand band (or many international bands, for that matter) make mainstream rock quite so heavy and potent as Shihad.

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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