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Dig In Deep

Frontiers (2012)
Rating: 9/10

When you consider how many cool bands were around in the late 80s and early 90s, it’s no wonder so many of them never actually made the big time. New York City’s Tyketto were just one of a cauldron full that were far more talented and far more original than a whole host of rock bands who made that big time.

Tyketto could also be joined in the unfortunate fraternity by Love/Hate, Liquid Jesus, Saigon Kick, Warrior Soul, Kik Tracee, I Love You, Last Crack, The Front, blah blah blah… a staggering array of talent and originality that were lumped in with some dodgy “alternative metal” tag; bands who produced one or two sublime albums before flittering away.

The big problem with metal and its reviewers in the late 80s and early 90s was its insistence to label everything. If something had a bubbly bass, it was classed as “funk metal” etc, and while a lot of these bands were not strictly heavy metal, if it wasn’t for them then such sickly trends such as “grunge” would not have materialised.

Tyketto, alongside bands such as Enuff Z’Nuff, Circle Of Soul, and goodness knows how many more, were a breath of fresh air; ultra-cool and hip acts touted as being the next big thing despite a complete lack of promotion. In a sense, these fleeting bands attracted a cult following, but nothing more. At times, the acts would fizzle out and the musicians would either go on to be in bigger bands are end up in what people would term “normal” employment.

Tyketto promised so much when they began life. There was the subtle voice of Danny Vaughn, who effortlessly caressed the ears with his sultry tones, and then there were those shimmering and often sugary funk strutting guitars which gave the music an airy appeal. Of course, Tyketto didn’t last long, despite more than a handful of great songs. Vaughn departed in 1994 for personal reasons, and later pursued a solo career, resulting in a handful of impressive albums, while Tyketto continued with another vocalist (Steve Augeri) on the more dreamy Shine record in 1995.

But nearly two decades later, it’s the Vaughn-fronted Tyketto that are back to shake our money makers with a delightfully hard edged record that not only takes us back to those hazy days when metal finally branched out from lipstick ’n’ leather, but it also gives us hope in the future of rock. And in the case of Dig In Deep, it makes us realise just what we’ve been missing.

Album opener, ‘Faithless’, is such a cool piece of struttin’ melody – it gets me every time – and Vaughn’s vocals stride in on a white horse of epic guitars. Track two, ‘Love To Love’, is equally stirring, blending an acoustic vibe with those almost Led Zeppelin-ish guitars and a hook of a chorus that digs in deep (excuse the pun!) with its infectious soul. It’s hard to believe that bands like Extreme got massive by using the same ideas, but to less effect.

‘Here’s Hoping It Hurts’ is even more subtle, a beautiful, swaying, jangly hip-shaker that has a Black Crowes swagger combined with The Electric Boys style sugary shuffle. Just one listen of these types of tracks is enough; they embed themselves into the brain mainly thanks to Brooke St. James leads. Whether it’s his acoustic breeze or electric sway, no matter, Tyketto put so much of modern day’s music into perspective.

Vaughn shines again on the enigmatic ‘Battle Lines’, but the band aren’t afraid to get down and dirty. ‘The Fight Left In Me’ begins like an 80s heavy metal masterpiece before transforming into a soulful fireside jig with occasional hard, driving guitars. ‘Evaporate’ and the bubble-gum rock of ‘Monday’ give the album a strong mid-section, although I’m guessing that those expecting a searing metal record will be most disappointed. But that’s not how Tyketto work.

As proven with so many terrible and daft bands within the genre, there is room for all styles, but it’s bands like Tyketto who really got the alternative metal flame burning back in the 80s. If you are eager for a chunkier groove then you only have to check out the chugging ‘Sound Off’ with its steely guitars, and Vaughn’s voice is so magical how it changes the mood, providing an almost tranquil tone.

It’s just so great to hear a band who still sound so refreshing. However, oh so sadly, just like all those years ago, Tyketto may mostly fall on deaf ears, but those who have been touched by these rock ’n’ roll souls will find much to savour on this record. Acoustic ballad, ‘This Is How We Say Goodbye’, will no doubt be missed by many, but it exists as proof that in reality all the best and most innovative bands are ignored.

Tyketto are not a commercial product built for the masses, instead they are a genuine rock band who once again have created a majestic and fluent record that puts everyone else to shame. Delightful, moving and as ever changing as the seasons.

Neil Arnold

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