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Tyr - Illusion (Reissue)

Tyr
Illusion (Reissue)
by Martin Knap at 12 March 2019, 12:47 PM

A band called TYR which has lyrics based on Nordic Mythology and even has the letters of their band name stylized to look like runes on their album cover? – you might be forgiven for mixing them up with a popular Folk Metal band from the Faroe Islands, that is incidentally releasing an album this month. While their names are almost identical – the band from Faroe Islands has an acute accent on the letter y (TÝR) – the music they make isn’t that similar. TYR (the one from the US) doesn’t incorporate many traditional Folk elements except for their lyrics. They are firmly rooted in the traditional US Heavy Metal/Hard Rock sound of the 1980s. Bands like QUEENSRYCHE, FATES WARNING, or SAVATAGE are a good comparison.

TYR aren’t as “proggy” as the before-mentioned bands – they don’t do the “proggy” stuff like time signature changes, extended instrumental sections etc. – and their music is rather melodic. It’s not full-on old-school Heavy Metal like ARMORED SAINT or VIRGIN STEELE in other words, but their music is still ballsy: there are some similarities with the harder side of US Hard Rock, i.e. bands like W.A.S.P. or DOKKEN (as opposed to cheesy Glam Metal). TYR also don’t engage in frilly-shirted neo-classical wankery á la YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – they like their Metal bold and manly. Melodic Heavy Metal is a pretty good label for their music I would say.

TYR’s debut album “Illusion” came out in 2002, the band has previously released one demo. The time of the release I think explains why it was self-released in 1000 copies – this sound was dead in terms of mainstream popularity and their target audience were mainly Heavy Metal dads who grew up on QUEENSRYCHE etc. The band never released anything afterward and faded into obscurity. The album must have gotten a dedicated fan base, because sixteen years after its release it’s being re-released by Arkeyn Records. One can see why there is interest in this album: it’s an honest 80s-style Heavy Metal/Hard Rock record with great songs and outstanding vocal and instrumental performances. Sure, in 2002 this sounded dated, but one can bracket the historical circumstances and appreciate the music for what it is.

The first song, “Play The Game,” will give you a good taste of what the band is going for: driving guitar riffs and synths and big, catchy choruses. In songwriting, TYR follow the time-proven formula of going “low” in the verse to be able to fly high in the chorus. Songs like “Far Away” or “Scary Man” have stripped-down verses that lead to a big chorus: “Far Away” has a melancholic verse with a clean guitar, the chorus has a powerful guitar riff backed by driving synths; in the verse of “Scary Man,” the guitar plays a simple chugging riff backed by spacey synths, the chorus has a really cool SAVATAGE-esque riff. “Can’t Run Forever,” with it’s driving melody, is a highlight on the album, I can imagine how this could be a hit song in the 80s (it’s actually a bonus track and was not on the original album apparently). I also enjoy the ballad “What Do You Do”. There are some dull moments: “Burn” has a bit of a generic verse riff, but James Garza's full, powerful vocals save it from being a boring song. Also, the bonus songs (track 9 – 14, that were not on the original album) are not as great (except “Can’t Run Forever” perhaps), but I’m basing my judgement mainly on the original track list.

To me this an endearing album. The music is quite straight-forward but honest and most of the songs are very memorable. The overall quality is impressive and it certainly deserves to be brought back to Heavy Metal fans’ attention.

Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 7


 

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Play The Game
2. Burn
3. Illusion
4. Far Away
5. Scary Man
6. Naked World
7. What Do You Do
8. Life
9. Can't Run Forever
10. We All Fall Down
11. Slave To The Feeling
12. Killing Time
13. Bitter End
14. Better Days
 
Lineup:
Russ D. Contreras – Guitars (lead), vocals (backing)
Rick Garza – Bass
Wayne Stokley – Drums
Rick Fulton – Keyboards
James Garza – Vocals
Record Label: Arkeyn Steel Records
     


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Edited 25 May 2019
 

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