What first impressions can we get from Ignition, the new album from Swedish 5-piece Crowdburn? A generic album and band name, with massively over-saturated album artwork, it doesn’t bode well. In the music reviewing business, especially when you’re concentrating on the alternative spectrum, you can come across a band that is so difficult to define because they don’t sound like anything that you have ever heard before. Spoiler Alert: This isn’t one of those times. Granted, I did struggle to put my finger on a single niche that I could comfortably put Crowdburn into in my mind, but that isn’t because of their originality. What is obvious when you first listen to Crowdburn’s Ignition is that it draws its inspiration and sound from many bands already going strong. Whether it brings back memories of the melodies of Soilwork, the grooves of Pantera, or even the heavier melodic hardcore moments of Rise Against, you can hardly listen to a single song without a little déjà vu.
I bet I sound pretty negative so far don’t I? Well, I shouldn’t. Originality is refreshing, but it’s not everything. What Crowdburn deliver in the form of Ignition isn’t new, but it’s still exciting. A hybrid of thrash and melody, it probably finds its way into groove-metal more than any other meaningless pigeonhole that springs to mind. Aggressive melodies are still something to get excited about. I can envisage fans of the more commercial music complaining about the all-out ferocity of tracks like the thunderous “Alligator”, while metal-heads whine about the more commercial and radio friendly “Spider’s Nest”. Give it a break. It’s okay to pick and choose the songs you listen to and this album can cater to more than one fan grouping. Instead of bitching about the parts you don’t like, why not enjoy the tracks you do?
Harsh vocals are contrasted with clean ones; explosive riffs are slammed against doses of crushing groove; melodic choruses lift off from heavier verses (I’m thinking of “Pictures” in particular). For those of you who like to bang out melodic metal music, “Burning Crowd” will please you no end. If you’re ears are better tuned to thrashing headbanging, just put “Alligator” on repeat and slam your head back and forth until you do lasting damage to your neck. Sure, Crowdburn have a formula in their mind and some sounds they want to replicate, but I say if they do it well, who the hell cares?!
The only tack on the album I’ll refrain from praising some aspect of is “Solid Habour In A Lonely Sea”. As a closer, it couldn’t sound more out of place. I was gearing up for the solid habour to be a progressive drum beat, get thrashed by a sea of growls, riffs and anything else Crowburn had left to assault my ears with. What I actually got left me more than a little surprised and very disappointed. Sounding like a country inspired 80s/90s metal ballad, some other reviews have defended it on the basis that it is a ‘guilty pleasure’ to sing along to. As far as I’m concerned there is no pleasure in it. Fair play to them for mixing it up, but when you’re following a formula, it is best to follow it to the letter.
3.5 out of 5 high fives!