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Album Reviews : Shihad – Ignite

By on November 29, 2010

Shihad are one of the most consistent bands I know, having produced a bunch of classic albums over the years that have never failed to impress. Amazing live, with charismatic John Toogood at the fore, they write catchy rock tunes that rarely disappoint. Although they’re no longer the ‘next big thing’, their last few albums have still had plenty to get excited about.

Their new effort, Ignite, begins with the crunching intro ‘The final years of the universe’. Slow, grinding, dark and heavy, it sounds fresh, and got me just a little bit too excited. Even the background ‘oooh’s and ‘aaaah’s’ don’t sound cheesy coming from Mr Toogood’s sweet vocal chords. The track doesn’t really go anywhere, but it’s an intro so it’s allowed too. Unfortunately, that doesn’t excuse the rest of the album, which while full of fresh ideas, never reaches great heights.

Lead or Follow, with its fast melodious guitar and building verses raises expectations, but when the chorus arrives it’s as flat as a car crash victim, and the repetitiveness of the ‘lead or follow’ line in the chorus leaves you in about as much pain. I’m a Void, with it’s distorted electro guitar is another fresh faced song which never gets you out of your seat.

In the Future is a major face saver for this album. Although it’s not a classic, it has all of the key elements of a great Shihad track, and Toogood’s slightly sexy ‘in the futuuuuure’, is worth the price of audio admission alone. This song is the whole package.

And then Sleepeater starts and you’re brought back down to earth. The intro drum beat sounds like a poppy dance floor tune, and the rest of the song… well that also sounds like a poppy dance floor tune. Catchy as always, a little bit too poppy, but it could be worse.

And the next song is, well, if Sleepeater was a poppy dance floor track, Ignite is a poppy dance floor track from the 1980’s, complete with wailing guitars/synth. Again, it’s catchy, and I suppose well written, but it really shouldn’t be on a Shihad record, let alone allowed in my CD player. Finally, Engage, Nemesis and Cold Heart brings some heavy credibility back just in time, and are some of the better songs on the album.

If I didn’t know the quality of Shihad’s impressive back catalogue I would probably have enjoyed this album much more, as there are plenty of fresh ideas and grand moments to keep me happy. In the Future, and The Final Year of the Universe are great tracks, and there is another handful of good tracks which will happily stay on regular rotation in my stereo. However, it’s not a classic of Australian (read: Kiwi) rock, and after producing great album after great album, you can’t help feeling a little disappointed.

Band: Shihad
Album: Ignite
Year: 2010
Genre: Heavy Alternative
Label: Roadrunner/Warner Music Group
Origin: Wellington, New Zealand/Melbourne, Australia

Track listing:
1. The Final Year of the Universe
2. Lead or Follow
3. I’m a Void
4. In the Future
5. Sleepeater
6. Ignite
7. Engage
8. This Lonely Fire
9. Nemesis (Dark Star)
10. Cold Heart


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.