I is for Ignite
A Place Called Home
TVT Records, 2000
My introduction to Orange County’s Ignite was in 2006 or 2007, when I saw them play with Comeback Kid back at the old Clearwater Theater. I was previously unfamiliar with them, which comes as a real shock, cause I was really into hardcore in high school. Ignite play that melodic hardcore, nothing metallic here, full of sing-alongs and uplifting, call to action, lyrics. You might be familiar with them due to frontman Zoli Téglás' brief run with Pennywise (he recorded one album, 2012’s All or Nothing with them.) Ignite hasn’t been a very prolific band. Their newest record, A War Against You, was just released last month, a full decade after Our Darkest Days, which came six years after A Place Called Home. So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s three full lengths in sixteen years.
Téglás uses his melodic voice and Ignite as call to arms for social causes. A Place Called Home tackles homelessness, domestic abuse, gun violence, addiction, environmentalism and animal rights, and the legacy of Soviet Communism in Eastern Europe, influenced by Téglás’ Hungarian background. Even when he tries to sound angry, there’s no piss and vinegar in Téglás’ voice. Instead, the emotion is in the words he sings. “The cuts in care and Medicaid leads me believe our government just doesn't care, / We send our aid, / our misspent funds, / Americans hungry livin' in the gutter” from “Veteran” or the closing call in “Bullets Included No Thought Required": “Why can't you be a man, / fight me one on one. / Don't need guns or knives to hide behind / Bullets included, no thought required.” Then there’s the entirety of “Hands on Stance,” a passionate plea for animal rights and environmentalism. “Sometimes you fight and you win / Stand ground but don't you give in / Sometimes you fight and you win / Stand up for what you believe.”
The strength of Ignite and A Place Called Home is the variety of issues that Téglás highlights. Sure, all the songs are that melodic hardcore punk, but the variation on this record comes lyrically. Few bands can cover such political and social ground as fluently as Ignite. And it doesn’t feel like you are being beaten over the head with all of these issues raised. Téglás is blunt as hell, he holds nothing back, but he sounds more like a teacher who will guide you rather than the general who will shout in your face until you agree to follow. And there’s a positivity, a light at the end of the tunnel, despite all of the negatives confronted. You can’t help but feel inspired. And the memorial of “Pieter” sums it all up: “Inseparably connected for life of one mind, / we always share everything, / I'm so grateful, / we're friends for life, / we're one family, / no problem is too big to solve, / together we're, oh, so strong, / we all come from, from the same tribe, / we're friends for life, / we're one family.”