I wonder how many Tygers reviews in the last 20 years have started with the reviewer banging on about their past glories and how much they liked their early 80’s NWOBHM albums (my fave is “Spellbound” just for the record…). It must sometimes bug the crap out of remaining founding member Robb Weir that every album is compared to how the band were 35 years ago in a totally different time, with a different outlook and line-up. But I guess if you are keeping a name synonymous with that time and playing your classics from that era in a live situation I guess you can’t complain. And I’m sure Robb isn’t complaining – Oh yes, I see that slightly smug smirk there on the band photo – Yep, Robb knows his band have just released a belter!
This album has just enough of a nod towards the past, but is equally looking forward. With it’s Melodic Metal attitude and sound that is so up to date, it’s an utter joy to hear from start to finish. This is no affectionate “trip down memory lane”. This album is eponymous on purpose, it really does sound like a new band that has taken all the elements it wants from all types of Melodic Metal and done them in their own way. I really like the mature, all-knowing treatment they give to undeniably NWOBHM riffs like those in ‘Never Give In’ and ‘Do It Again’ – taking what could be typical Tygers song from the past and bringing it into the now.
Before anyone has visions of the “Modern” treatment I mention to the songs being some kind of hideous Metalcore bandwagon jump, I’m referencing the post Millennium Melodic Metal that built on the 80’s style and just refined it a little. The type found on the rosters of Frontiers, AFM, Metal Heaven…that kind of area. But Tygers Of Pan Tang 2016 aren’t afraid to do just whatever sounds right for each song and their style twists and turns fabulously as mood dictates. OK, here’s an example – take the 3 opening tracks – ‘Only The Brave’ is timeless British Metal given a Scandinavian spruce-up and added energy, ‘Dust’ makes me think of the much-overlooked and underrated album by Heavy Bones, full of groove and attitude, and then ‘Glad Rags’ ups the groove-factor even more to something between classic Bad Company and Rival Sons. That’s just those three – other tracks have elements ranging from Queensryche to Harem Scarem and much in between (I had to mention Harem Scarem as Harry Hess does a great mastering job after Soren Andersen’s magic in the recording studio, which all adds to the ultra-classy sound of the album).
The vocals are perfect. A Mid-to-High faultless 80’s Metal type delivery that is versatile enough to manipulate excellently into the chosen feeling of each song. This guy suits each song so well, but then Jacopo Meile has been in the band more than ten years now and I get the feeling the band have realized the benefit of writing songs to suit his many vocal strengths. However, the songs are also their own entity – there are plenty of powerful drums (with double-kicks on display too when needed!), intricate bass-lines, memorable choruses and enough great riffs and solos to satisfy the most jaded Metal heart. Even the ballad ‘The Reason Why’ has a swagger to it that makes it punchier. There’s a hard rock/metal cover of ‘I got the Music in Me’ for a bit of fun too…if you don’t dislike the original too much…
There’s a welcoming familiarity to this album’s sound, and I think that’s because it manages to nail the true essence of what it is trying to achieve with such ease and professionalism that you think you must have heard it before somehow, but of course, you haven’t. This album is a fantastic example of how a band can take the very spark of who they were, nurture it, build on it, and turn it into something special once more. Job well done!
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)