Tiger Army - II: Power Of Moonlight (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Tiger Army

II: Power Of Moonlight (2001)


I'm going to assume my perspective in reviewing a psychobilly album is similar to many of our readers. I've heard the term before but I'm not going to boast I that I own the entire Mad Sin or Nekromantix back catalogues. I think like most North Americans the genre hasn't been on my radar for a while; with a few notable exceptions it's been far more of a European phenomena. It's this lack of popular saturation that makes Tiger Army sound so fresh and exciting. They sound like their doing something new but are instead are really introducing an American spin on a well established subculture.

Psycho is rooted in rockabilly. It's punk rock played as if it's major musical influences were the Sun Records bands of the 1950s as opposed to the late 1970s punk bands. Tiger Army revels in these influences, producing a sound deeply rooted in blues, country and a bit of gospel. As with most European psychobilly bands there are elements of Lovecaftian horror in their lyrics and overall image, but to their credit the band doesn't go overboard with the imagery. Its easy to imitate the Misfits and take on a b-horror movie angle, but there's a very fresh sounding sophistication to what the trio writes and sings about. While many horror influenced bands fall into the trap of self-mockery, Tiger Army finds a respectful medium I've rarely seen.

The Californian band is largely a vehicle for Nick 13's songwriting. Tim Armstrong signed the band even before it had a rhythm section. The first incarnation featured Rob Peltier of the Quakes on stand-up bass and Adam Carson of AFI on drums. This album was recorded with the lineup of  Geoff Kresge (ex-AFI) on stand-up bass and London May (Samhain, Son of Sam) on drums. May has since left the band. The band really gels on tracks like "Under Saturn's Shadow" and "Incorporeal." The song "Cupid's Victim" is more traditional, with a chorus that could have come from a 50's Sun Records album. The angry "F.T.W." is a rerecording of an early song that predated the bands entire catalogue. To their credit the crooning country ballad "In The Orchard" fits well with the feel of the album. The album's most complete moment is on the phenomenal title track "Power Of Moonlight," featuring slide guitar curtsey of Rancid's Lars Frederiksen.

Fans of European psychobilly band will appreciate Tiger Army's take on the style, progressive yet still very respectful of tradition. The band gives off a similar vibe to later day Social Distortion and should appeal to those who enjoyed Mike Ness' country-punk fusions. Tiger Army won't make psychobilly mainstream, but they will make it more accessible for the punk community… All the power to them.