First things first, where the bloody hell is the Roman numeral? This is Tiger Army IV: Music from Regions Beyond, not just Music from Regions Beyond. I feel a little lost and confused with a Tiger Army album title like this. And only eleven tracks? Who is in charge here? I demand they get back in the studio and give me my twelfth and thirteenth tracks"¦
But then again, after the regular pre-album line up change (at least some things never change) this is a new beast entirely. The Tiger Army of old is dead; maybe in his old age Mr. 13 is mellowing. He even allows someone else to sit at the mixing desk of his baby for the first time in the form of A.F.I./Morrissey producer Jerry Finn. And these are not the only changes that the album heralds.
Of course before we can go any further, the album does start with the requisite intro. "Prelude: Signal Return" is the regular sort of fair, lots of talking of Tiger Army never dying and a pretty hard fast track. There is one very noticeable difference though and it comes back to the man behind the desk. The sound is richer and fuller, with perhaps the double bass a little low in the mix. The second song, "Hotprowl" is again pretty much standard Tiger Army fare, fast guitars, thumping bass lines, sing along parts, and guest backing singers made of friends of the band that is over before it really begins.
"Afterworld", which was previewed on the band's Myspace page is a chance for 13 to really stretch his lungs and show his singing abilities, all the while showing off the crispness of the production.
One of the issues that crops up time and time again with Music from Regions Beyond is that there seems to be a real lack of the danger on the album. Previous efforts always sounded raw and angry, this however is far too crisp and clean and in some places bloated, such as "Forever Fades Away," which never seems to end. Sure it's a nice song but it doesn't seem to go anywhere.
There also seems to be a rehash of old glories in the form of "Pain" which seems to just be "Sea of Fire" from Tiger Army III: Ghost Tigers Rise but with different lyrics. Not that this is a problem, it just seems a little odd for a band that has changed 2/3 of its setup to go back and try again with an old song. Then again; why Nick 13 thought to sing in Spanish on the dreadful "Hechizo De Amor" is beyond me. It really is the low point of the album, again a nice enough song, if a little, no a lot, plodding at points.
But then in songs such as "Lunatone" and "As the Cold Rain Falls" not only do the album's bad parts get glossed over but blown away. "As the Cold Rain Falls," in particular, with it's post-punk use of keys and a brooding bass line seems almost like another band due to the complete difference in sound from previous Tiger Army fare. And by the time album closer "Where the Moss Slowly Grows" has licked it's final steel guitar part you know that this is the album that will push Tiger Army out of the American psychobilly crowd and into the mainstream.
This is an album that won't please everyone, lots of old Tiger Army fans will feel left behind by the bands evolution and it's never going to appeal to the pop market. But in Music from Regions Beyond, Tiger Army have taken a giant leap to being more than the stepping stone to the psychobilly scene. Yet, this album does also feel like the transitional album at times and it will be interesting to see where the band goes from here.
7.6 / 10
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