REVIEW: TIEBREAKER – DEATH TUNES (2016)

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Norway’s finest rock n rollers? 

About this time last year MVM reviewed an album by a young looking bunch of Norwegian’s from the small town of Odda, in the West of Norway. Five hours from Oslo, the band proclaim themselves to be “demoralised” by the fjords and they set about breaking the shackles of their 7000 population home.

Debut album (the title of which was surely a nod to their upbringing) “We Come From The Mountains” was a magnificent affair, full of classic rock tunes that echoed everyone from The Allman Brothers to Monster Truck. It was good enough to get them support slots with Enslaved and a trip to the US to play the prestigious SXSW Festival.

“…Mountains” had emerged in their homeland at the end of 2014, as such, by the time we’d got our grubby little hands on it, they were already in the studio on its follow up.  Holing themselves up in a Log Cabin for three months with Kvelertak’s producer Bjarte Rolland seems to have really focussed them, because the ten tracks that make up “Death Tunes” are ones of a band that is ready for the big leagues.

Essentially following the same pattern as the debut – and indeed, it wasn’t broke so didn’t need fixing – there’s a big bluesy hook all over “Hell” which opens things, and that is before the glorious fuzzy guitar solo that gleefully appears before Thomas Espeland Karlsen has opened his mouth.

Karlsen seems very much to have been born to sing in a classic rock band and he does it with some skill. His wail is at the centre of the mighty “Pan American Grindstone” and “Cannonball” which comes out swinging – and moreover hits the sweet spot.

The formula is a winning one, and “Commando” knows its Led Zep back catalogue, “Anywhere But Here” would be great if even it was a Hellacopters song, which makes it pretty special really, but “The Deep” takes us off into other places, with its Southern Rock stylings.

The title of the album suggests some dark layers and “Building Up To Die” with its ominous start makes that idea more than a suggestion, “Killer” is just that, showing Rival Sons just how stuff should get done, and “Float Away” is nothing more than timeless.

If “Death Tunes” is just as good as “….Mountains” was, then it is the final song here that proves Tiebreaker are here for the long haul, “Heavy Lifting” is near 10 minutes of bluesy brilliance, with more than a passing nod to Gov’t Mule and it is not the work of a band who aren’t intending to make a real splash.

Albums one and two have been brilliant, but you sense that this five piece are nowhere near done yet, and that album number three could be something incredible.

Rating 9/10

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