It’s that moment in the melodic punk rock universe we all anxiously awaited for, ladies and gents. Cigar will drop their highly anticipated second full-length release, The Visitor, on September 9th via Fat Wreck Chords. I had the privilege to listen to this outstanding album ahead of the release date, and all I can say is it’s unquestionably one of the top contenders for an album of the year, in my book. You couldn’t expect less of me after repetitiously listening to their debut, Speed Is Relative, and desperately waiting two decades for their studio comeback. Those knee-deep into the genre have probably listened to We Used To, Legacy Of The 7 Plies, and Classic You, introductory singles that serve as more than appropriate examples of the Cigar’s brilliance. The remainder of The Visitor is equally good and maybe even better.
The Visitor offers ten exceptional melodic punk rock compositions entirely performed in Cigar’s recognizable manner. Perhaps Speed Is Relative carries all the classic tracks we all dearly listen to and adore, but The Visitor undoubtedly showcases what twenty years of performing music in many other incarnations does to the musicians. Cigar improved their sound to the point this is not plain and simple skatepunk but an ultimate demonstration of exceptional musicianship presented through ten wisely constructed numbers. They threw some properties of crossover, heavy metal, and rock in these songs, so everything sounds even more technically demanding. I could even dare to say they implemented some jazzy maneuvers into this outstanding material or the execution resembles something you could hear while listening to some jazz music. Perhaps it’s due to how the drummer Jon Sortland and the bassist Jonathan Hischke operate together during these songs. After all, they had a long history of performing together in many bands before Hischke joined the Cigar.
We all get used to Sortland’s exquisite rhythmic virtuosities, showcased on Speed Relative, but wait till you hear Hischke’s skills. The way he articulates with the rhythm section through a series of thoughtfully arranged basslines gives The Visitor that relentless complexity. The sound engineer/producer did superb work by emphasizing all these warm low-end tones. Nothing would sound so powerful without fast-paced riffs, chord progressions, shreds, licks, and other virtuosities performed by Rami Krayem. His vocal abilities and the background vocals/singalongs provided by the remainder of the band further enhance these songs. Each member plays a significant role in this polyphonous equation, and their mathematically precise punk rock sound is something rarely seen and heard nowadays. Of course, there are many progressive groups out there, but somehow Cigar’s version of progressive skatepunk comes as a breath of fresh air. The Visitor drops on September 9th via Fat Wreck Chords. Don’t miss this gem!