Noises from the Cathouse

by Tygers of Pan Tang

Track listing: Boomerang, Godspeak, Master of Illusion, Highspeed Highway, Superman, The Spirit Never Dies, Cybernation, Déjà Vu, Bad Bad Kitty, Running Man, Three In a Bed, *Hidden Track

The latest inception of Tygers of Pan Tang, originally formed in the late 70's, has made a straightforward metal album that could have just as easily been released 15 or 20 years ago.

This is not a tongue-in-cheek, modern take on hair metal, a la The Darkness. Noises from the Cathouse is the latest chapter in the story of a band that has been around with various line-ups since the time of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) movement. Other than the players (the only original Tyger still in the band is Robb Weir), not a great deal seems to have changed. The material here is familiar—crunching, down-tuned guitars, complicated fret-work, wailing vocals.

The album's opener, "Boomerang," has a satisfyingly driving hook coming on the heels of darker, slower, almost Queensrÿche-inspired verses. Clocking in at over nine minutes, "Master of Illusion" is a study in the kind of supernatural, doom-laden lyrics first popularized by Black Sabbath. Lines like "the spell is cast/ you're spinning fast/ your soul completes the circle" and "I'll turn your white to black" are meant to sound ominous but here just sound silly.

"The Spirit Never Dies" is a decent power ballad with some nice guitar work. "De Ja Vu" is similar. In fact, most of the songs are cut from the same cloth. The only exceptions are the glam metal-ish "Bad Bad Kitty" that truly sounds straight out of 1986 (one can envision the video complete with spandexed, hairsprayed groupies) and "Three in a Bed," in which vocalist Richie Wicks seem to do his best David Lee Roth.

No new ground is broken here. Metal has survived in various forms for nearly three decades now and has generally managed to continually adapt and attract new fans (see Slipknot, Drowning Pool, et. al.). Instead of experimenting and updating their style, Tygers of Pan Tang have recorded an anachronistic album that feels like it was pulled from a time capsule. Hats off to these guys for continuing to write and play music that they clearly enjoy, but if you want to hear some classic metal it might be more fun to dust off an old Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or early Metallica record.

Posted on 5/31/04