Remember that chill that ran down your spine when first heard "Never Die"? Or when you took home a copy of Give 'Em the Boot II and heard "Nocturnal" for the first time? Chances are those same feelings will return with Tiger Army's fourth full-length on Hellcat, Music from Regions Beyond.
The record begins with a recurring musical theme that opens several other tracks on the album. It's a booty-shaking, hi-hat-happy, almost disco sound, much like Alkaline Trio used in Crimson with "Time to Waste," "Prevent This Tragedy" and "Burn." It should come as no surprise though, as Jerry Finn produced both albums. Where Finn got the idea to use a bouncy disco sound for horror-themed punk bands is anyone's guess, but suffice it to say both albums would have been better without it. However, where Alkaline Trio just sounded silly, Tiger Army limits the sound to intros for the most part, like on the first track "Prelude: Signal Return," which after a titanic group shout of "Tiger Army, never die!," explodes with punk rock dynamism and frenzied upright bass pulsations. The punked up "Hot Prowl" kicks in next with a series of Rancid-like "hey!"s followed by a chorus of AFI-like "whoa"s. As the song nears its end, it suddenly dips into a hardcore breakdown with deep, gutteral vocals, far different from anything Tiger Army has ever done.
Though Tiger Army has endured a nearly ever-changing lineup, the band is as crisp as ever. Lead singer Nick 13 demonstrates why he has one of the best voices in punk, with dreamy, passioned melodies, like in the standout "Afterworld" and "Forever Fades Away," the former of which features a guest spot from Davey Havok. New bassist Jeff Roffredo proves his worth on "Ghosts of Memory," where drummer James Meza keeps time, peppering the rhythm with artfully subtle fills and crash hits.
The band steps outside of their trademark psychobilly prowess for "As the Cold Rain Falls," a dark pop/new wave tune with an `80s feel that, while not screaming "Tiger Army," is still a wonderfully catchy and touching song. The only real throwaway track is the all-Spanish ballad "Hechizo de Amor" (or "Spell of Love" for you gringos), which is monotonous and flat compared to the rest of the energetic, vibrant album. The final song, "Where the Moss Slowly Grows," starts off slow and unpromising like "Hechizo de Amor," but evolves into a beautiful country-influenced rockabilly song with music and lyrics that paint a romantic and extraneous illustration of a summer's evening in the deep south.
Music from Regions Beyond is about what you'd expect from Tiger Army four full-lengths into their career: tight, energetic psychobilly still revolving around tastefully and well-executed horror themes, while incorporating new styles and experimentation so as not to fall into a trap of predictability from album to album. Even the packaging is stylish and satisfying, with symbolic retro World War II-styled artwork and a glossy Tiger Army-themed wallpaper pattern on the inside. With Music from Regions Beyond, Tiger Army continues to progress and refine, securing their place at the top of the American psychobilly scene.
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