Tyrant (California, USA) made a couple of classics which are well loved (‘Legions of the Dead’ and the killer ‘Too Late to Pray’) in the 80’s and then returned in ’96 with the well-respected ‘King of Kings’. All three of which have been re-released to death in the last few years! This is the first new release from a band I have enjoyed for many years. Glen May who sang on their previous three releases is replaced (actually this happened about 3 years ago!) with none-other than Rob Lowe. Yes, ex-Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus vocalist.
I do feel this is a natural successor to ‘King of Kings’, although by all accounts the band have tried to capture the spirit of the first two albums. Obviously, there is some doomier elements with the influence of Rob Lowe on a trio of tracks, namely ‘Hereafter’, ‘The Darkness Comes’ and ‘Fire Burns’ (listen out for the Sabbath-like riff at 5 minutes). Those looking for the classic Tyrant US metal approach need to head to the latter part of the release, although the opener ‘Dancing on Graves’ is a good one to pick up the flow. The songs do get a touch long in the tooth, they are great in parts, but suffer from areas that do nothing more than continue with more of the same. In modern listening terms, many will most likely get skipped. Although cleverly, the start of most tunes is redeeming, but I urge patience, give the songs time, but I do feel some go on far too long, the point was made at much earlier parts of the song(s). One of my favourites is ‘Bucolic’. This one has a tried and tested acoustic start up prior to the metal commencing. The gallop, the epic nature of the guitar riff and the blistering lead breaks build a great atmospheric. The verse starts low; vocally there is a wonderful warmth prior to the second verse that eventually leads into the chorus. The strength and power here is cool. For a real sense of classic Tyrant, ‘Beacon the Light’ will give a nice taster to whet your appetite. The emotion from the chorus is cool, as you come to expect with such a singer. The riffs and little bends and harmonics remind me of classic US power metal, you know the drill. The mix also includes some organ/keyboards to augment the sound. ‘From the Tower’ is a track I expect from a Keep It True festival band (which Tyrant have played before BTW!), you know, anthem-like chorus, galloping guitars, you ca just imagine the response of the crowd.
Overall, I am pleased Tyrant haven’t gone for a pure resurgence of their classic material, there is depth and expanse in the album tracks, although as I have mentioned, you have to endure some of them for a long time. In my opinion, this is far from being a US metal classic, this does however prove you can rely on a band to pull an album out of the box that holds a few surprises, and for that, I commend Tyrant. I would have liked a touch more tempo overall, but hey, it’s not an album just for me, it is an album for everyone. The Tyrant legacy is firmly rooted with a touch of sparkle and surprise added to keep you on your toes. Have a listen, see what you think.
(7/10 Paul Maddison)