Ten years is a long time for any band to go without recording a new album. Especially for an outfit like Ignite, whose roots were planted in the politically conscious soil of the OC hardcore scene. Shouting about the world’s injustices as they occur is the most important currency for OC’s biggest, most respected hardcore band. Lord knows the bloodshed and scandals on the nightly news offer them plenty to work with. Yet that fact is the very thing that inspired them to return to the studio to light the fuse on their long awaited new album. This time, the nitro-fueled frustration on A War Against You (out on Jan. 8) and subsequent song “This is War” are pointed at the media covering all of the killing and destruction the band address in their songs. In short, the war they’re talking about involves a battle for truthful perspective.
“You either have a left leaning media, a right wing media and there’s an agenda behind it,” says bassist Brett Rasmussen. “There’s so many different elements that go into news reporting and rarely do we get the truth in the news. We’re just being misinformed by the media so much and misinformed about what’s going on in the world.”
It’s the kind of statement we’re glad to hear the band make as we roll into 2016, especially considering how long we’ve waiting to hear any news about their new album. However, the way Rasmussen dissects the last decade of his band’s history, the gap between releases feels more like a power nap than a coma. After releasing Our Darkest Days in 2006, Ignite toured relentlessly, and were continually offered new gigs and festival opportunities overseas that stretched them well into 2009.
At that time, lead singer Zoli Teglas signed on as the lead singer for Pennywise following the departure of Jim Lindberg. Meanwhile Rasmussen and his bandmates busied themselves with side gigs. Guitarist Brian Balchack joined former Revelation Records band Into Another, drummer Craig Anderson started playing for LA hardcore heroes Strife, Rasmussen had his own band as well. When they could, the band continued to tour on their old material. The tenure of Teglas lasted three years, at which point Lindberg returned to Pennywise. By 2013, Ignite were in the process of writing for A War Against You.
“I think we all grew in that time by having the opportunity to go do other things,” Rasmussen says. And then you come step back in a room and you realize how cool the Ignite chemistry is, but you’re also using these new things you’ve added to your arsenal.”
Even with the break between recordings, heading back to the studio in 2014 with their longtime producer Cameron Webb at Maple Studios in Santa Ana was like jumping back into the same old comfortable saddle. The main challenge was deciding which songs out of the massive pile they’d written were strong enough to keep.
“When we went into record, we didn’t know exactly which direction it was gonna go,” Rasmussen says. “We had about 30-40 songs written so we started going through all the material and it was easy to see which ones were gonna stand out and shine.”
The final product features 14 songs, which combine a muscular-yet-melodic take on hardcore music that make for some memorable moments on the new album. Teglas’ lyrics remain as positive and upbeat as ever, yet tempered with age and experience. Much of the album is an ode to Teglas’ family and an ode to the immigrant struggle; he’s long written about his own Hungarian heritage in Ignite’s lyrics (as heard on tracks “Alive” and “Work”).
Current events including the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe as well as man’s ruination of the environment (which comes to the fore on the track, “The Suffering”) echo throughout the album.
Rasmussen also calls A War Against You the band’s best sounding recording to date. “Musicians go in and work on songs and a lot of times the final product when you get the CD doesn’t sound how you envision it sounding. Sonically it’s night and day from anything else we’re done.”
Songs like “Where I’m From” sound crisp and catchy, while also offering a strong helping of hometown pride that is sure to fill the pit when they finally make it back to OC. Out of everything else on the tracklist, the song is the truest testament to a band whose relentless grind got them where they are today.
“We take a lot of pride in that,” Rasmussen says. “We travel all around the world and do a lot of amazing places and a lot of impoverished countries so we definitely are appreciative of where we got to grow up and live. We don’t take it for granted.”