If you know the graphic novel The Watchmen, you’re well on your way to understanding how On The Cinder, a three-piece melodic hardcore punk band from Buffalo, NY, who just released their Sophomore album Lamplighter, operate. This is a self-aware band who have taken classic punk music and created an album with one hell of a social message for modern day society. 

Jason Wright (guitar/vocals), Mike Jacobs (bass/vocals) and Tyler Rzemek (drums) have come together to create a sophomore album that cements the band’s ideology. As Wright said, having written this record wanting “to take the social and political issues that we all care about and present them in a very personal way,” On The Cinder have made their standpoint on today’s world very clear. They’re using punk the way it was originally created – to incite social change and make commentary on what is happening around them. 

Lamplighter opens with “Lifeline,” the title of which references the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This song really sets the tone for the album, with lyrics full of personal reflection and a complex sonic explosion from the get go. “Lifeline” expresses regret, frustration, and the sheer pig-headedness of pushing through to survive and thrive, a theme which is carried throughout the album. 

“Nostalgic Distortion” is a hard-hitting song that lyrically references family violence and abuse, and uses its musicality to make the listener feel the cycles of abuse through heavy drumming and complex guitar riffs. Jacobs says that the band wanted to be very careful that in writing a song “supporting women escaping domestic violence situations [they wanted to make sure they would do so] without mansplaining and coming off as arrogant dirt bags” and they do this well. The song is bittersweet, talking about freedom, regrets, and the overwhelming power of misplaced love in the face of abuse. 

There is a rumoured upcoming video for “#Anarchy” and it’ll be exciting to see this song brought to visual life. With overarching guitar and strong, loud, classic punk-style spoken/screamed vocals, this song is pokes fun at the idea of a scene dedicated to non-elitism becoming another product of consumerism. While short, it is very tongue-in-cheek sweet, and a fun song to listen to.

Lamplighter closes out with its titular track, pulling back from its discussions of religion (“While Supplies Last”) and the horrors of war and military service (“The Block”) to again reflect on itself as an album, On The Cinder as a band, and themselves as individuals. By the time you roll round to listening to the final track, you’re familiar with the lyrical and sonic structure of On The Cinders’ songs, and while they could perhaps use a little more variety, they do a good job at the DIY punk sound, with some interesting lyrics, although they could use some refining. That being said, as the main refrain of “Lamplighter” goes: “I won’t give up on you if you don’t quit on me” and On The Cinder is definitely a band to keep an eye on.On The Cinder have talked about trying to convey values when it comes to this Lamplighter, and the classic punk ideologies of equity and destruction of an imbalanced system are strongly expressed throughout. Lamplighter was released October 24 2019 through their label, Flower House Records, and you’d be doing yourself a favour to head over and stream it on Spotify.

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