In the Heavy Metal universe, the term NWOBHM holds a lot of value. Standing for New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the movement that began in the mid to late ‘70s included a bunch of bands that would help redefine the genre. With many names to mention, standouts included Diamond Head, Saxon, Grim Reaper, Raven, Iron Maiden, as well as others. Each making their mark, there were also Tygers of Pan Tang out of the seaside English town of Whitley Bay.
Tygers of Pan Tang, initially formed in 1978, would go on to find success rather quickly with their 1980 debut album Wild Cat; reaching peak positions in UK charts. A promising start, changes came quickly when original Vocalist Jess Cox departed, leading to Vocalist Jon Deverill (who became the band’s signature voice through the remainder of the ‘80s era) and Guitarist John Sykes (who has played with Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake) joining. Going onto release Spellbound and Crazy Nights (debatably a top 10 NWOBHM album) back in ’81, Tygers of Pan Tang continued with some ebbs and flows through to 1987, releasing Burning in the Shade that same year.
So, was this the final chapter of Tygers of Pan Tang? No, because amidst all the trials and tribulation from the decades prior, original Guitarist Robb Weir would reform them around the start of the new millennium. Weir, an original founding member, had not been a part of a Tygers of Pan Tang’s album since The Cage, but Weir saw a window of opportunity to bring the band back following the conclusion of the Grunge filled ‘90s. Clearly a good discussion, the band slowly picked up momentum again, and have remained active ever since.
Now, if you are an old school fan of Tygers of Pan Tang, it is important to mention the band is configured much differently presently then it was during their peak in the ‘80s. In fact, Weir remains the only original member, with Craig Ellis on drums since 2000, Jacopo “Jack” Meille on vocals since 2004, with Francesco Marras joining on guitar in 2020, and Huw Holding joining on bass in 2021. With so many changes in-between, the most important thing to consider is that the second generation of Tygers of Pan Tang has done a fitting job of staying true to the band’s original song… and 2023’s Bloodlines further exemplifies this.
Their fifth overall studio album with Meille on vocals, Bloodlines comes a year after their 4 track EP A New Heartbeat which featured 2 new songs, plus re-recorded editions of Wild Cat tracks “Fireclown” and “Killers.” This in mind, the album was released on May 5th through Mighty Music, is their thirteenth overall, and stands to be their most successful release since the ‘80s. Entering sales charts in countries such as Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, if you still have not checked out Bloodlines, are you curious yet?
You should be, because the 10 songs that make up Bloodlines are quite impressive. Produced by Tue Madsen (who has worked on various Metal albums over the last two plus decades), the album features classic melodic Heavy Metal guitar work, a lively energy, and solid songwriting. Clearly more modern sounding than the band’s work during the ‘80s, this does not mean anything has been lost in terms of feeling. In fact, the band stays true to traditional Heavy Metal stylings as good as any other from the classic period.
This true blue Metal can be heard on killer tracks such as “Edge of the World,” “Fire on the Horizon,” “Kiss the Sky,” as well as 2022’s EP track “A New Heartbeat.” But there are also the more mellow atmospheres that emerge on such songs as “Taste of Love” and “Making All the Rules” which are both must listens.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, if you are just becoming aware that Tygers of Pan Tang are still around after all these years, Bloodlines is an album that will not disappoint. And if you are just starting to get back into them again, it is urged after listening to Bloodlines to check out prior albums such as 2016’s Tygers of Pan Tang and 2019’s Ritual.
So, is it the band as you remember them from the ‘80s? No, but it still has the soul and roots of classic Tygers of Pan Tang. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Bloodlines 4 out of 5 stars.