Road of Bones

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Austin, TX retro-metal band Ignitor turns back the clock yet again with their sophomore release and first full-length, Road of Bones, proudly ensuring that traditional, '80s flavored heavy metal keep gunning their chrome cylinders at full throttle deep into the new millennium. Need to know more? Well, following the replacement of founding guitarist Beverly Barrington with another female six-stringer named Annah Moore, and a temporary sidelining of vocalist Erika Swinnich while she recovered from a broken leg, the quintet also featuring former Agony Column shredder Stuart "Bat Lord" Laurence has built upon its promising 2004 EP with an equally nostalgic, even heavier, and slightly more complex batch of songs. These include musically challenging numbers such as "Scarlet Enigma," "God of Vengeance," and the standout "Broken Glass," but there are still several other songs of a more immediate, catchy, and anthemic variety in the likes of the title track and "Wings of the Blackheart." Of all the band's many influences, Iron Maiden eventually rises to the top of the podium (on "Phoenix" and "Castle in the Clouds," in particular), but like other evident touchstones, both legendary (Judas Priest, early Queensr├┐che, Metallica) and more obscure (Armored Saint, Manilla Road, Savatage), their characteristics are roundly reinvigorated and re-imagined before emerging as Ignitor's surprisingly fresh sounding material. (Although, they do finally cross the line into eye-rolling cheese-metal with final offering "Reinheit├čgebot.") And with all due respect to Laurence's axe skills, it's Swinnich who rules this album; wheeling and dealing her formidable pipes all over the place (but especially impressive on "March to the Guillotine" and "Hymn of Erin") like a female cross between Bruce Dickinson and Geoff Tate. In sum, Ignitor have both the necessary pedigree and the welcome modern perspective to qualify as one of 2007's most impressive classic metal releases.

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