Tygers of Pan Tang – Tygers of Pan Tang
Label: Mighty Music
Release Date: October 21, 2016
For all but perhaps the most diehard fans, Tygers of Pan Tang was a simply a footnote in the history of British metal. They arrived during the famed New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), dropped three or four great albums on our collective heads and then faded into the bush. Of course like many of their NWOBHM brethren, Tygers of Pan Tang continued to release albums, but continual line-up changes, poor directional choices, and shifting musical fads relegated the band to near oblivion. Fast forward to 2016 and the guys are back with their eleventh studio album, and holy mother-of-metal is it a monster. The self-titled, Tygers of Pan Tang features band co-founder and sole original member, guitarist Robb Weir along with longtime cohorts Jacopo Meille (vocals) and Craig Ellis (drums). Bassist Gavin Gray, who joined for the band’s 2012 album, Ambush, is back as well. New guitarist Micky Crystal, who joined in 2013, makes his recording debut with the Tygers.
The band wastes no time grabbing the listener’s attention. Album opener, “Only the Brave” comes ripping out of the gate with razor-sharp riffs, a thundering rhythm section, and a nice hooky chorus. Micky Crystal is a shredding fiend on the solo.
Tygers of Pan Tang get their swagger on for the groove-fueled rocker, “Dust” then move into more of a bump and grind swerve for the Sunset Strip vibe of “Glad Rags”. If this sounds like the band has traveled far from its roots, have no fear as “Never Give In” is classic Tygers of Pan Tang and nails their patented early 80’s NWOBHM signature with whipsaw riffing, and a driving melody. Fantastic guitar solo on this track as well.
The band slows the pace for the moody feel of “The Reason Why”, which is a solid lighter-in-the-air power-balled from yesteryear. This is followed by another propulsive adrenaline banger, “Do it Again”, that resonates with the traditional ToPT sound.
Next Weir and company dial up a unique spin on The Kiki Dee Band’s 1974 hit, “I’ve Got the Music in Me”. Rolling out right behind it is the almost 70’s like semi-ballad, “Praying for a Miracle” which adds some wonderful atmosphere to the record. The whistling on the outro is a nice touch.
There are so many well-crafted tracks on Tygers of Pan Tang, but perhaps the true shining gem is “Blood Red Sky”: The song’s galloping fretwork and cinematic build help this song soar. It is an energetic and powerful beast on the prowl. Another ballad, “Angel in Disguise” slows the momentum down again, and Gavin Gray’s rumbling bass paces the album closer, “The Devil You Know”; a vintage riff and roller which would be an explosive arena rocker. There’s a bit of a Van Halen meets INXS feel happening here only heavier and ballsier.
In all, Tygers of Pan Tang, has done its legacy justice on this eponymous return. The album production is crisp and stellar, as is the mastering by Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), and mixing by Søren Andersen (Mike Tramp, Glenn Hughes). Meille’s vocals are locked in throughout the record. The guitar work by Weir and Crystal pays homage to the past while never feeling forced or stagnant. Gray and Ellis are rhythmically precise. The heartbreaking thing here is, as incredible as Tygers of Pan Tang is, sadly too few will hear it, and too many will steal it, thus keeping the big cats caged, when they should be roaming stages across the globe. It is hard to call this a comeback album, but regardless, Tygers of Pan Tang are back with a record that could easily fit in with their classics like Wild Cat, Spellbound, and Crazy Nights.