Album Review: Tygers of Pan Tang – Bloodlines

Album Review: Tygers of Pan Tang - Bloodlines
Reviewed by Sam Jones

There is perhaps a no more underrated name within the NWOBHM sound than Tygers Of Pan Tang; amidst the plethora of like-sounding bands between the late 70s and early 80s, Tygers Of Pan Tang formed way back in 1978 out of Tyne and Wear and, right out of the gate, the band started releasing a slew of material (as was the mountainous volume of material NWOBHM bands were churning out then) before 1980 graced us with Wild Cat, their first studio record. Various records would follow suit, as well as several breakups and reunions to boot as well. However, the band as we see them today reformed in 1999 and it’s through that continuity we still have the band now. Tygers Of Pan Tang, despite part of the UK’s iconic NWOBHM scene, is a band I’ve never managed to get round to checking out, hence why their thirteenth studio album, Bloodlines, is a great chance for me to set things right.

For a band that’s been going as long as Tygers Of Pan Tang, and never quite reached the level of success some of their peers managed, it’s humbling to see the band still put in this much effort regarding the production quality. As per their NWOBHM style this isn’t a record where people should go in expecting a muddier or grimy aesthetic; the name of the game with Bloodlines is to completely immerse its audience in a traditional and clean soundscape that can still surprise us here and there with the energy and power it manages to harness. That’s a big take away from this album; the band have a very clear prerogative towards a polished sound but they left in just enough dirt, hiding beneath the plainly obvious surfaces, to give their performance some grit. With a release this far into the band’s career, we know they likely aren’t going to change things up in any considerable manner, yet it’s nice to know the band are still giving it genuine effort as per crafting a memorable listen.

Alongside underrated NWOBHM bands such as Quartz, Fist, Blitzkreig and more, Tygers Of Pan Tang continue that overarching theme of imbuing their sound with honest fun and entertainment inside their songwriting. Listening to this album feels like experiencing the early 80s except in a polished and cared for package, wrapped up in a 2023 release. The fact that the band can still write, produce and perform an album that still possesses these easygoing semblances forty-five years on from their inception is a great sign to see. It goes to show that age doesn’t stop you, only your declining passions, and like Satan’s modern resurgence, Tygers Of Pan Tang, through a focused but inviting experience, demonstrate why they’re still as relevant now as they were back in the days of their youth. There’s never any thoughts of getting the audience to the next song; there’s no rush, the band simply play what they’ve got at that minute and then worry about what’s next.

Album Review: Tygers of Pan Tang - Bloodlines

Due to the mixing being with it is, owing to the band’s NWOBHM style of metal, Bloodlines is a record that manages to easily balance the full breadth of elements that make up the band’s identity on record. As a result, any riff and bassline and drum beat us on full display with no worry to be had over whether we’re going to miss something at a certain moment. That’s just not the case, and it’s the most prevalent when considering the vocals; these are easily the most standout force on album not because of their sheer, projecting power but, due to how they’ve been positioned within the mix. You really feel like this is a full band performance owing to how the vocals seem at the forefront of the stage, whilst the instrumentation is set a little further back albeit with just as equal importance and resonance throughout the developing songwriting. Italian-born Jacopo Meille has helmed the band’s vocals nigh on two decades now and his delivery is absolutely crystal clear, showcasing not only control but vast discipline during his longer notes. I do like how the band don’t go for the hyper-high screams; it keeps the vocal performance grounded and ensures a well-rounded band attack too.

The pacing is absolutely spot on. I think a lot of this comes down to sheer experience of the band in general, but we also have to credit the dual guitar attack of Francesco Marras and original member Robb Weir, whose synergy creates riffs and licks and a general progression, from one track to the next, that always gives us the impression that we are gradually moving through a song without it feeling deliberately written as such. Listening to these songs asserts the idea that, of course, this was surely the only way such songs could begin, develop and end. Curiously, the band utilise a steady pace of songwriting that continuously feels fresh and renewed from each ensuing song. I think part of this is down to the variety of attitudes thrown in; the band do more than your typical hard rock/heavy metal aesthetic. You’ve got your hard hitting pieces, your slower and ballad-esque tracks, a smoother song to relax us a touch before raising the intensity again etc. There are no lengthy epics to be found within to cap off any point in the record and it benefits greatly as a result. The band understand what their fans want, provide us with such, and then move onto the next sequence of Bloodlines. At this point they’ve got nothing to prove, yet they’re still prepared to put in their all to make their record as memorable as they make it.

In conclusion, Bloodlines is a highly competent metal record that doesn’t need to try and be a competent-quality record. Across ten tracks, the band display an expertise throughout their songwriting that feels completely natural whereby, the writing and performing process of this record was no difficulty at all. It’s as if the band could nonchalantly bash this record out then go out for their breakfast and coffee, it really does feel so seamless and easy an experience. Now on their thirteenth album, it’s deeply reassuring to know that nearly five decades into their career, Tygers Of Pan Tang still reject complacency and went into Bloodlines with every intention of making this the most kickass, exciting and engaging record they could attempt in making. I personally feel they succeeded wildly in that regard, channelling their efforts into something that is going to garner many, many new fans to their name with great ease. Excellently paced, well performed, plenty of fun and pleasing entertainment, Bloodlines is a great example of when an old band remembers its tricks far into the modern age, and can still give the new youth a run for their money.

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