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Rattle  - 'Ritual' Review by Gabriel Kiss

As we are nearing the end of the year, the British metal legends are just getting more and more active! After Angel Witch and Grim Reaper, another veteran band, Tygers Of Pan Tang is now contributing to the genre with a new album. For those who've never heard about this group before, it's worth mentioning in a nutshell that Tygres was one of the greatest hopes of the NWOBHM scene at the time, and John Sykes sharpened his „tigerclaws” in this band in the early years.

Their first two albums, Wild Cat (1980) and Spellbound (1981) are both early heavy metal classics, and even James Hetfield calls them his favorites, and main influences. After these albums they started to mix thier original sound wih hard rock, and then in 1984 they split up because of the disagreements with their record company. However, they re-activated themselves a year later, but this fast-paced resurrection only lasted for two albums, and brought a significant change in music, as the band turned towards the AOR-style, enriched with keyboards. By the way, I don't think it is a bad thing, and many of their contemporaries have stepped on this path. Just a few examples: Diamond Head, Saxon, Def Leppard, Tokyo Blade, Praying Mantis. Of course, this change was not a success story for everyone, because there were some who were flown to the top, but our favorite tigers were out of luck, so they split up again in 1987, shortly after the Burning in the Shade album.

In 2000, guitarist Robb Weir (and the only founding member) re-started the band, and has been an active member of the heavy metal scene ever since, but most importantly, since Jacopo Meille joined the band in 2004, they have gradually regained their original sound. And now we have arrived to the newly released Ritual album.

Fortunately, on the new album they continue to balance between hard rock and powerful heavy metal, just like Saxon does these days. The opening track, 'Worlds Apart' shows the metallic side of the group right away, kickstarting the old engine with raging fast-paced riffs and some really good melodies. Very good start, we get a heavy metal anthem right at the beginning!

On the other hand, 'Destiny' is cool mid-tempo rock song. As we listen to the music, we start to nod our heads to the rhythms unwittingly, while in thought we are already riding on the highways, and ripping off the chains of social expectations. Behind our back, of course, with a hot chick. You know what I'm talking about: freedom, love, and such. 'Rescue Me' is another hard rock track, with a little bit of talk box magic, and some background chorus in the chorus. But those who think of something like Bon Jovi, better think again, because these crunchy riffs would make Richie Sambora run scared and grab a pint of beer, and I'm quite sure that good old Jon wouldn't be able to sing like that anymore!

'Raise Some Hell' takes us back to the realm of heavy metal in a form of an insanely fast song, summoning the finest traditions of the genre. A real headbanger opus, addressed directly to the old-school metal maniacs. If you like classics like 'Hellbound' from this band, you'll love this one as well! After such an energy bomb, 'Spoils of War's slower marching tempo will let us have some rest. What I am a little sorry about the song is that the guys could play a bit longer that cool riff at the ending, so I could enjoy it for a longer time.

'White Lines' probably will be the biggest hit from this album, and will become a fan-favorite track on their live performances from now on. I also looked up to see if this song was played at the concerts, and of course, it is already on the setlist among the classics. Deservedly. The song starts with a nice AC/DC-like intro, then we get some fast-as-lightning riffs, and the whole thing is crowned with fantastic catchy melodies, not to mention the roaring chorus. It was a good decision for Robb Weir to surround himself with younger musicians, as it is probably the main reason why we can't find any signs of awkward „granddad-rock” on the whole record.

The instrumental section is great, but the big catch for Weir is undoubtedly the singer, Jacopo Meille. This Italian-born guy totally reminds me of Robert Plant, and I think he is a real blessing for the band. His youthful, powerful voice, and his excellent sense of melody greatly contribute to keeping the band's sound so up to date. I wouldn't be surpsired, if one day we could see him on the front of a bigger, more popular band. I wouldn't be happy with it, and I hope this day will never come, but it wouldn't surprise me. I hope they will never try to get a record deal with Frontiers Records...

After all the madness of 'White Lines' comes 'Worlds Cut Like Knives', which is a really nice ballad, but at this point the listener no longer wants a candlelight atmosphere, but some good ass-kicking metal! Fortunately, with the raging anthem of 'Damn You!' the guys give us what we need. If you like 'Never Surrender' from Saxon, then you'll have a close friendship with this song, because it is driven by the same timelesss riff, which have been already played by so many bands, so many times, but you just can't get enough if it!.

'Love Will Find the Way' is a great, catchy hard rocker, with an excellent chorus, Meille did an excellent job on this one. I really like the beautiful guitar solo, luckily, it returns again and again through the song. Congratulations to the six-string section! Following the hypnotic, modern feel of 'Art of Noise', the monumental, epic 'Sail On' is a brilliant grand finale for this excellent album.

The crew of Tygers Of Pan Tang once again gave us a diverse and uniformly high quality album. They are releasing their fourth excellent album in a row, proving that they are still not old, toothless tigers, but not even hearing impaired, unlike some leopards! This is a real alpha-male team that the world of heavy metal still has to count on!

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