You know, it struck me as somewhat ironic that in the week that Judas Priest announced their first gigs in Lord knows how long, Tygers Of Pan Tang released an album. Also on that bill with Priest are Uriah Heep and Saxon. Add in Raven and the Tygers, and you’ve got – not far off – a bill that says, “just about every ace NWOBHM band that ain’t Maiden.”
The irony of all this is that although the Tygers have always been “nearly” men – they’ve had some serious bad luck along the way, not least their original singer doing a flit to run a label, and John Sykes being poached by Thin Lizzy – they’re always there, always working, and still releasing superb records. To that end, “Bloodlines” – which follows reasonably hot on the heels of last year’s “A New Heartbeat” EP – is another in the long line.
There’s been another new line-up (of course there has! – although, to be fair, former Almighty bass player Gav Grey, who was on the EP, had left the band before its release) but as long as Robb Weir is there, then the fire still burns. In honesty, everything, by and large, you need to know about “Bloodlines” is in its first song. “Edge Of The World”. It starts strong with a metal-tinged hard rock track that sets the tone for the album, expertly played, classy, and with Jack Meille as a vocalist that’s as good as any. And if there’s been one thing you can’t ignore in the Tygers recent work, it’s the guitar of Francesco Marras, and as if to prove it, “In My Blood,” has a standout solo.
“Fire On The Horizon,” on the other hand, is straight up, straight ahead 1981 One from the classic new wave of British Heavy Metal sound from the band’s debut album. There are a lot of shades here, to be fair to them. “Light Of Hope” is a stadium-sized track with a positive message. “Back For Good” features massive grooves and draws inspiration from bands like UFO. “Taste Of Love” brings back the power ballad. “Kiss The Sky” is a mid-paced rocker, and they are all in the pot, stirring it up, as if to emphasise the creativity here in this line-up.
Even in the deep cuts, there are gems to be found. “Believe” is solid and functional, like a championship right back in football terms, but that only serves to make “A New Heartbeat” even better. It is an absolute belter, full of skill and energy. And even when the acoustics come out for “Making All The Rules,” it’s one of the best the album has to offer. Dealing with suicide head-on, it’s brave and empathetic and ends the record on a more serious note than you might have imagined it would.
But then, these are serious times, and music is going to reflect that. There is little doubt too that Tygers Of Pan Tang are rightfully proud of this record: “I feel as confident with our new line-up as I did all those years ago when “Wildcat” appeared on the shelves, and it was given a unanimous thumbs-up.” Weir reckons in interviews he’s done in advance of its release.
Well, he might too. Now, ok, the NWOBHM isn’t new anymore. It’s not far off 50 years old, and these bands simply cannot make the same records they did. What they can do, though, is make new, fresh material that has the DNA of the past running through it.
That’s exactly what “Bloodlines” has done.