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Cry Havoc

Rocksector (2015)
Rating: 8.5/10

I was first introduced to Geordie metallers Tysondog way back in 1988 when a friend recorded onto cassette for me (don’t tell the police!) their 1986 opus Crimes Of Insanity. I was instantly hooked by the excellent combination of thrashing metal and that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal groove, but in spite of my interest in the band, I was dismayed to learn that Crimes Of Insanity was to be their last album and that the band had already split in 1987.

And so it comes with some joy to announce that Tysondog has returned, and Cry Havoc is the result; a 12-track menu of hard, metallic and muscular anthems once again mixing thrash nuances with traditional metal gallops.

Thank goodness bands of this ilk and my generation are returning to put the kids into their place, and even more joyous that the new line-up features three original members; vocalist Clutch Carruthers, guitarist Paul Burdis and bassist Kevin Wynn. These hungry veterans are now joined by drummer Phil Brewis and second axeman Steve Morrison.

Of course, Cry Havoc isn’t the first sign of life since their resurrection. In 2012, Tysondog decided to re-record four of their classics under the title of Hammerhead 2012, although in my opinion those original gems should always remain untouched and captured in that moment. Nevertheless, let’s concentrate on the now and Cry Havoc; a storming return if ever there was one.

The combo are unleashed once again to the racing strains of the title track, which begins with a soundtrack of swirling police car sirens and then a plundering bass before the outfit sets off like a greyhound out of the traps and after the rabbit. The guitar, bass and drum gallop in classy metal fashion, but also boast a somewhat streetwise edge. Why this reminds me of cult Kentucky metallers Kinghorse I’ll never know. Maybe it’s the bruising, gritty edge to the vocals or the steely riffage, but either way, it’s a fantastic way to announce your return to the fray.

Thankfully, the band doesn’t relent; the metallic foraging continues with superb injections of melody, cool lyrics and a passion that today’s bands of youth could never match. As Carruthers belches out “War!” and a solo comes blistering into the ears, we’re transported back to the hazy 80s. Maybe that’s the production, which some could argue lets the album down, but for me it puts that raw edge onto proceedings as the combo hurls itself into the trudging ‘The Needle’ with its mid-tempo juggernaut riff and damaging bass trundle. Indeed, the band lives up to its moniker, swinging in hostile fashion like heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson at his peak and yet with all the knowing of a bloodthirsty hound about to rip out the throat of its prey. ‘The Needle’ brings bigger melody than ‘Cry Havoc’, however, at times flirting with AC/DC and, say, Accept, but with a bigger dose of menace than both combined.

‘Parasite’ hits hard immediately with its slamming percussion and buzzing riff, while ‘Nemesis’ simmers into action, hinting at an almost typical, earthy brand of 80s thrash with a strong, sleazy rock edge given all the more credibility by Carruther’s vocal slant.

Indeed, you could be forgiven that Tysondog has just grabbed a bunch of its unreleased tracks from the 1980s and marched them straight onto vinyl without any reworking, but in this respect it works very much in their favour as ‘Nemesis’ prowls in sinister fashion, while ‘Shadow Of The Beast’ comes speeding with such a ferocious and gnawing nature that when Carruthers barks “Black clouds amassing overhead” and “Dark angels sent to raise the dead”, one can only become part of his world which is backed up by that trickling bass-line.

Like every track on offer here though, once it builds, it is clear as to why Tysondog impressed me so much upon first listen back in 1988. Pick any track on this record and you’ll be rewarded with a sound that, while dredging the depths of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene, still holds its own in other waters too, whether it be darker-laced doomier metal or thrashier nuances. The likes of ‘Into The Void’, ‘Relentless’, ‘Broken’ – with its excellent atmospheric introduction – and ‘Crash And Burn’ are timely reminders as to why we should never forget bands of this ilk; while they may have been ignored and pushed out at the time by serious competition, there is clearly room for them in today’s climate to shine. Cry Havoc is a natural progression for Tysondog and I hope it’s not just me excited by such a cacophony.

Neil Arnold

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