by Anthony Abboreno

I first discovered Ignitor two years ago through this blog, when Cosmo posted a link to his Metal Injection review of their 2007 album Road of Bones. That album kicked my ass like Painkiller, with hammering riffs and awesome vocals by Erika Swinnich, a woman with a top-notch sneer.

Evil Calling
My Heart Turns to Dust

The Spider Queen (Cruz del Sur/Heavy Artillery, 2009) sees lead guitarist Annah Moore exchanged for Beverly Barrington and Swinnich replaced by Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys and Watchtower. In their new lineup, Ignitor nearly sound like a different band. The Spider Queen is a concept album with more elaborate songs and a range of different tones. McMaster's vocals are way up front in the mix and awesomely manic, lurching between a midrange croon and an anxious, cracking falsetto. While I miss Swinnich's vox, McMaster's performance defines this album. It's impressive stuff.

Admittedly, The Spider Queen is sometimes too much. It's because Ignitor want to carry the world on their backs: they want to clobber you, break your heart, bring you from the lowest lows to the highest highs. They don't always make it, and the music occasionally gets shaky in high-pathos ballads. The story is convoluted as hell, featuring revenge plots, bloodsports, incest, and people turning into spiders. Still, even at its most elaborate, The Spider Queen avoids self-indulgence. Instead, it's consistently entertaining and occasionally sublime. Thrills, chills, and spills await you here.