Although it’s been roughly a decade since Ignite‘s last studio album was released, from the first moments of A War Against You, they make it clear that they’re here this time in a staunchly pop-punk form. While there’s nothing inherently weak about harmonized vocals and cut-and-dry chorus lines, both vocal and instrumental, the thorough subjugation of the latter in the mixing to remove any possible challenges to the domination of the singing just smacks of taking the easy route, compounded by weak lyrics and abounding clichés.
That’s enough of a problem for an album in regular circumstances, but for something that proclaims itself punk, it undermines their persistent efforts to come off as rebellious, conscientious, or even serious. While punk in general has been pretty heavily neutered for decades, there have at least been hold-outs who go with the style because the sound and form suit their moods and messages, rather than targeting it as an easy shot at audiences with low standards. Whatever their personal motivations and activism may be, the music put out by Ignite on this album drops them to the level of middle-school fodder; it’s not really as bad as Simple Plan or Story Of The Year, but it’s not that far above them either. It’s all too easy to imagine used copies of this cluttering up bargain-bins in half a decade.
Among the half-baked existentialism of wailed lines like “The purpose of life is not the path of most resistance / The struggles inside will bring you to your knees / Who am I, if I won’t rise up? / Who am I, if I fail?” and social commentary such as “What have we learned / Since 1963?”, there are a few decent points. The non-vocal parts of the music have good chemistry together, simple as they are, with the staccato rhythms owing most of the blame for their homogenized state to whomever was standing behind the mixing boards and removing the bite of the bass and guitar. The drummer does his best trying to liven things up in the pop-hardcore (pop-core?) efforts of the band, throwing in some respectable fills and bridges, adding some unpredictable touches to the seemingly-mandated regular pounding, and somehow managing to avoid too much of the drumsticks’ impact being diminished by watered-down production.
Sure, there’s an audience out there for this (depressing as that is to seriously consider), but I hope that those listeners will grow up out of this and move on to something with even the slightest amount of greater substance. Musically, politically, and mentally, this just comes off as juvenile, and simply embarrassing as the work of a band that’s been around for more than two decades.