Ignitor is an anomaly; it's a top-notch power metal band not from Germany, but from Austin, TX. It also has two women in its lineup. This shouldn't be a factor, really, but it still is in metal today. Annah Moore's guitar work is as masculine as any out there (interestingly, she's written a well-received book on gender identity issues). Erika Swinnich's vocals, however, are definitely female. This actually isn't that strange. Power metal vocalists often sing in registers normally occupied by women. Why not have an actual woman do it?
Swinnich's pipes are extraordinarily strong. She's not hyper-technical, but she sings within her range with complete command. Her edgy yet robust presence is formidable. She rolls her r's like the Metal God, Rob Halford, and is just as dominant as a Geoff Tate or Warrel Dane.
Her supporting cast is more than up to the task. It's hard to find more compelling metal guitar work this year. The guitarists fire off meaty riffs and epic harmonies, but with an admirable sense of economy. Unlike the showboating that often afflicts power metal, all the notes here count. This album isn't speedy; it runs mostly at a purposeful march that leaves space for headbanging. "March to the Guillotine" does exactly that, with an insistent, catchy chant (Ministry somehow comes to mind). "Road of Bones" sports majestic, palm-muted, neoclassical riffs. The sliding power chords of "Scarlet Enigma" recall Metallica's mighty first two albums.
In short, this is metal par excellence. The riffs are sharp, the songs are memorable, and the album flows as a river of continuous metal quality. The only blot, surprisingly, comes from Joe Petagno, famed Motörhead cover artist, who turns in hasty, half-baked artwork. But never mind image. As Swinnich so thrillingly intones at the album's end, "Metal is the law!" This record runs on rules laid down at metal's inception – be strong, be heavy, be committed.