Three years ago, Tygers of Pan Tang’s self-titled twelfth album made me feel good about old NWoBHM bands, and their ability to craft enjoyable-enough songs. I hadn’t revisited it until it was time to review their new album, Ritual. In fact, I even went and revisited the referred-to review above. I mean, there’s always a chance that, because I was still in my rookie year as a member of the AMG Conglomerate, I was taking it easy on some bands. But I’ve been around for a long time now, and having a warm place in my atrophying heart for a band is not only unacceptable, it is now unheard of. Was their last album really “good,” or was I being generous? Will the new one also be good, or can it follow the lead of fellow NWoBHM vets Diamond Head, and take things up a notch?1
Ritual opens with a rager of a song, “Worlds Apart,” featuring a lightning-fast riff and a brilliant intro made for opening concerts. Sole founding member Robb Weir (if in fact it is him, and not co-guitarist Micky Crystal) writes and plays some killer riffs, and while it may be unintentional, he pays homage to guitar hero John Sykes with his style. Jacobo Meille, who has been with the band for fifteen years now, still sounds as charismatic as ever. In his upper register he reminds me of Geoff Tate, which isn’t a bad thing at all, and he brings excitement and commitment to every lyric. Production is appropriately slick as well, processed to a degree typical of 80s metal without being overdone, with big guitar solos and even bigger (and at times repeated ad nauseum) choruses.
“Worlds Apart” isn’t the only gloriously 80s metal anthem to be found on Ritual. Much like three years ago, Tygers of Pan Tang show themselves to be skilled songwriters. For the most part they stick to a standard time-tested-and-true formula, often executed to perfection. “Raise Some Hell” and “Damn You!” are catchy and memorable fast-paced rockers that don’t hold back at all, and when the band gets a bit experimental on “The Art of Noise” it pays off with the heaviest song on the album, complete with an excellent bass riff during the song’s midpoint. And for you hair metal fans out there, “Words Cut Like Knives” is the token power ballad, sappy to the extreme but well-executed.
Your better half might tell you that length doesn’t matter, but trust me: it does. And on Ritual, Tygers of Pan Tang overstay their welcome by exactly three songs. 80s bands were never made to put out 53 minutes of music on a single album, and that is still the case here in 2019. “Destiny,” “Rescue Me,” and “Love Will Find a Way” could all have been left off this album, making it stronger and more vital for the culling. Cut this down to a svelte eight-song, forty-minute jaunt and we would have had a super record, but as it stands the average material drags down some truly strong songs. That’s the key to longevity; for the ultimate example, look no further than Pretty Maids, who continually put out above-average records with no filler.
Even with the weaker tracks taken into consideration, Tygers of Pan Tang have released another strong album, showing that 2016’s self-titled was no fluke – and that I wasn’t an overrating fool back then2. When on their game, the band continues to write some of the best 80s-styled metal out there (click play on the video below for more proof), and that makes Ritual a worthwhile purchase for anyone who’s a fan of the olde days, or of bands that play like they wish it still was.