How often do you hear a woman fronting a band with traditional metal overtones in place of the Gothic junk hovering around the mainstream? Not very much I assume, but America’s Ignitor has been cruising along as a retro band for a long time, so as a curious a**hole, I grabbed their second record entitled Road of Bones. Ironically, Ignitor’s risks on the vocal front actually paves the way to success while their music suffers from a kicker of stale instrumentation, which leaves a damaging wound on this squad’s sophomore recording. Though interesting, Ignitor’s Road of Bones is a bit lackluster in many areas, and can’t make it on the musical edge; quite an average effort at the end of the day.
Of course, Erika Swinnich’s position as Ignitor’s lead singer adds a lot of interesting qualities to an album that would otherwise appear rather generic. I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but I’m actually very surprised at the utter might and velocity found in Erika’s feminine tone as the unusual vocalist bellows constant strains of power with her high-flying voice. I guess the only downside to her vocal performance is application of predictable singing patterns, but that tiny flaw does not stop Erika Swinnich from being one of the most electric vocalists of her genre and gender; a phenomenal voice this woman has.
Musically, Road of Bones is mainly driven by Ignitor’s forced worship of classic heavy metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Manowar amongst others. These obvious influences are mainly found in the constant guitar wails often smothered with retro licks and chopping hooks that appear to ripped right out of any namable metal record from the beginning days of the genre. Pat Doyle’s percussion is as tame and unexciting as it gets, which basically leaves a big gap of dull drumming that’s filled by the old-school metal slices. It sounds good at first, but it leads to a few hindering moments caused by a lack of freshness and too much repetition.
This series of wrongdoing is Ignitor’s sole issue on the composition threshold, because everything here is basically stuffed with expected worship without any daring moves that flash of originality. To put it bluntly, almost everything is a genetic copy of Ignitor’s core influences; everything from the riffs, to the drums, to the bass, and the overall emotional tone within Road of Bones. And when Ignitor emerges with a cool riff that actually appears original, the repetition factor kicks in, and you can expect that nifty riff to be on the polar opposite of the adjective spectrum after four minutes of the same thing. It’s not like the instrumental blandness totally trashes the record, but a little more musical diversity would have easily made this a lot better.
All in all, I’d say Ignitor is on the right path to being a great band; however, the obvious rusty spots need some oil before the wheels really begin turning. Road of Bones is a decent offering that gives out a few good listens, but the flaws are clear and the listener will struggle to keep interest over a period of time; it’s just how a record like this works. If the concept of a female-fronted traditional metal band sounds interesting, pick this one up, but don’t expect some valorous epic that redefines the genre or a masterpiece of divine proportions.