Remember that time your dad went to the grocery store to get milk and never came back? That’s the exact heartbreak us skate punk fans have felt since Cigar released Speed is Relative 23 years ago and disappeared into the ether shortly thereafter. Good news! Dad’s back, and he got the milk! Or, in this case, Cigar’s back and they’ve got an awesome new record.
The wait was long, but it was worth it. With their Fat Wreck Chords debut The Visitor, Cigar picks up right where they left off on Speed is Relative. This record delivers more of the crazy fast, ultra melodic punk that earned the band’s 1999 debut its deserved status as a cult classic among skate punk diehards. Actually, I think this record might even be faster than the first one! Yes, two decades have passed, but these guys have defeated Father Time. They still have the same youthful energy that originally drew me to their music; I’m confident it will win many new listeners over as well.
Cigar wastes no time getting out of the gate, as “These Chances” kicks off The Visitor at a breakneck pace, and immediately rolls into the equally speedy “Legacy of the 7 Piles”. Right off the bat, drummer Jon Sortland is firing off like a fucking machine gun on drums; seriously, this guy is a lunatic. New bassist Jonathan Hischke shows off his chops with riffs that will make your fingers bleed just listening to them. Frontman Rami Krayem turns in a great performance once again, with some creative guitar parts and equally impressive vocal range.
I loved the album’s lead single “We Used To” when I first heard it a few months ago, and that’s still the case. This song has “instant classic” written all over it. But when trying to pick a favorite track, it’s a complete toss up for me. There are no stinkers to be found here. “Gone Wrong”, “Classic You”, “Forget About Me”, and basically everything else on this record is on par with the fan favorites of Speed is Relative.
The Visitor‘s closing track “Knocked Down” is introduced with an a cappella intro, and for a brief moment in time, you get the impression that Cigar might actually slow down. But this glimpse into a seemingly softer side of the band is short-lived. They quickly hit the gas, opening up the circle pit one more time with a rapid fire skate punk anthem to rival “Mr. Hurtado”.If you like punk rock fast enough to set a land speed record, The Visitor is the record for you. With any luck, Cigar won’t keep us waiting another 23 years for the next one!