Ignite have really come back and surprised the world with their latest offering "Our Darkest Days". Seeing as how the band's last outing came back in 2001, it's hard to believe that after a five year absence they could come back and even make a dent in the music scene again. But their newest effort sees them strongly laying down the gauntlet and getting punk rock back to what it was all about to begin with. With screamo and metalcore so dominant over most of the underground music scene right now, "Our Darkest Days" is a breathe of fresh air in such a stale environment. From the inspiring lyrics, to the melodic song structures to the excellent musicianship, "Our Darkest Days" has all the ingredients of a Grade A punk rock or melodic hardcore record, and it's about time an album of this nature was unleashed on the public.
There's many things that set Ignite apart from a lot of the punk/hardcore bands that have come along in the last few years. Not only have they been around longer than the majority of them, but they are also extremely good at what they do. While their last effort, 2001's "A Place Called Home" left much more to be desired, "Our Darkest Days" gives the listener everything they could possibly want from the band. Following their departure from TVT records (which everyone should admit, was never a good home for Ignite's sound) and their signing with Abacus recordings Ignite put together one of 2006's best releases.
Bringing the culmination of their old school hardcore meets melodic punk sound to its full pinnacle, Ignite has officially brought forth their masterpiece. While past releases have all been good and offered entertaining listens, "Our Darkest Days" is front to back the strongest and most impressive record the band has put out yet. However there's many distinctions that make them standout from most of the punk rock pack. First of all they have a singer who can actually sing. And sing very well at that. Zoli Teglas, while taking a very melodic approach to his vocals, is such a strong front man for the band that it makes listening to the record an utter pleasure every time because he really knows what he is doing. His lyrics are also incredibly self aware and refreshing in today's music world. His backing band isn't too shabby either. The guitar riffs are punchy one minute, before instantly transforming into catchy, melodic choruses. The rhythm section keeps up the intensity and speed at all times, and then instantly dies down into softer parts. Everything about the band is accomplished.
As far as the songs on the album are concerned, there is not a bad one on the lot. Of the 14 tracks there's not one moment on the album which isn't catchy or uninspired. The small intro ("Intro (Our Darkest Days)") sets the pace for the record, before instantly diving into the blistering "Bleeding". "Know Your History" and "Poverty For All" are both energetic, speedy numbers that combine thoughtful lyrics with melodic hooks. "My Judgement Day", "Save Yourself" and "Fear is Our Tradition" are probably the album's three strongest tracks, but it really is a difficult task setting any one song out against the others. The most surprising pieces come in the form of the cover of U2's "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" (ever wonder what it would have sounded like if U2 played speedy punk rock? Here's the chance to find out) and the closing acoustic number "Live For Better Days", which both give the album depth and diversity among it's punk friendly selection. Rounding out just shy of 36 minutes, it has the perfect length to keep the listener interested the entire way and yet not become overbearing or boring along the way.
"Our Darkest Days" isn't just the best punk release 2006 has seen thus, it's one of the best records any of genre that has come out. Fans of punk and melodic hardcore shouldn't be without this disc. It has everything that fans of the aforementioned styles love about their music. Combining Rich vocals, excellent musicianship, insightful lyrics, and over the top energy, "Our Darkest Days" has truly set the bar for all other punk bands putting out records this year. Here's to hoping we get a new record from these guys sometime before 2011!