While I will admit to loving just about every grunge band out there, I’m honestly not the biggest fan of the term itself. I find it gets way over used and more often misused, case in point being the debut album The Face of Mars (released January 9th, 2018) from Albany, New York’s Ignis.
Ignis are starting to shape a peculiar sound, it just needs a little grooming and maybe for them to fully embrace it. Brothers Tristan and Colby Beach make up the whole of Ignis (high five for two-piece bands!) Their sound is a volatile, artsy type of goth rock. These songs are very much all over the place but are held to a common thread by a mopey vocal style similar to that of Robert Smith in The Cure. “A.S” opens with jangly, dreamlike chords that build into a chorus that suddenly implodes into a keyboard breakdown. It has an odd feeling to it and reminds me of something freak rocker Frank Zappa might have done. On “Not Yet,” Ignis do employ the typical grunge approach of soft verses and heavy choruses, but the song’s off kilter arrangements and nasally vocals come across as way too weird to be labelled grunge.
Choosing to cover Mother Love Bones’ “Chloe Dancer” was wise as it showcases the softer, keyboard driven side of Ignis, which to me is their ace in the hole. Although, trying to replicate Andrew Wood’s majestic vocals on the track is an exercise in futility. I will reiterate the point I made previously for the song “Could it Be,” which has a dissonant chorus of smashing guitars, keyboards, drums, and layered voices that sounds on the verge of collapsing; though it has the soft/heavy dynamic, it’s really just too bizarre to be grunge. “273” is by far the weirdest track on the album and totally threw me for a loop. It opens with some funky guitar flourishes and turns into a talk sing type vocal that sounds like it’s coming from the bottom of a well. Just as you wrap your head around that, Beach turns back to his gothic Robert Smith tone for the chorus amidst swells of guitar distortion and drum smashing.
Ignis has peaked my interest with The Face of Mars but the pieces have yet to fall into the right places. The strength of Ignis’ sound lies in the grey areas that defy genres. I dig the weird structures and arrangements and I think that with some more chops and savvy they will achieve something special.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy