TYSONDOG is a British Heavy Metal band from Newcastle. The band was formed in 1983, when NWOBHM was going strong. Via the well-known label Neat Records they released their debut album “Beware Of The Dog” in 1984. Cronos (VENOM) produced it. The following year TYSONDOG released the EP “Shoot To Kill”, preceding the sophomore album “Crimes Of Insanity”. Years later (in 2002) a compilation was put out.
I had never heard of TYSONDOG until I got a review copy of their latest album, “Cry Havoc”, a few months ago. The album was released in April 2015 and contains twelve tracks. It all begins with a police scene (shooting, cars, …) in “Cry Havoc”. The bass comes in, playing the main rhythm, leads join to create some tension, after which everything erupts into firm Heavy Metal. The vocals reminded me, somehow, of Blaze Bayley, albeit in a lighter version. Musically you get the kind of music that is similar to IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, BLAZE BAYLEY, and even, one way or another, IRON SAVIOR. The chorus is catchy, with those rhythms and melodies. Of course, with this kind of music, the guitar solo is a must. Coming back to the vocals, and that counts for the entire album: Was there and effect to them? Were the recordings like this? Did he sing behind a screen or something? The singing doesn’t sound or come out like it should. Or was this “effect” done on purpose?
“The Needle” offers direct slow/midtempo Heavy Metal, very rhythm-based, but with the bass guitar high in the mix and that’s a good thing. The vocals, despite the aforementioned problem (by lack of a better word) go well here. Rhythm in the verses, melodiousness (and an emotional touch) in the bridge and chorus, which sounds a bit whiny, if I may say so. Overall, a good song, but not as strong as the first one. “Parasite” begins in a powerful way with the drums and guitar in a dominating role. Firm Metal is unleashed with again a nice bass sound. The verses are in half-time, allowing for massive head-bang pleasure. The chorus, on the other hand, is of the atmospheric and emotional kind. It’s not heavy at all, not sound-wise. Yep, it’s all about contrast. The Bluesy solo is inline with the overall feel and atmosphere.
“Nemesis” begins with a mysterious intro, thanks to the guitar. This leads to linear, straight-forward Heavy Metal by the book. The vicious, Bluesy verses could be compared to some of SAXON’s tunes. Solos are good to have, but if only they were a bit more memorable. Later on, the rebuilding commences with the intro theme, shattered windows, barking dogs, sirens…
After these two ok songs, “Shadow Of The Beast” steps up as another highlight. Starting with a creepy intro, you get fast Metal after that. Good! But the surprise then comes from the rather funky verses, while full power is reserved for the chorus. At some point the band even goes into Power Metal mode, paving the way for the solo. A more rhythmic bridge leads back to business as usual. Another quite good song is “Into The Void”, which also begins with a pounding intro. The Heavy Metal that follows is by the book and very predictable. But the music’s got power and energy. It’s catchy and I like the contrast between the verses and the chorus. “Playing With Fire” is another definite highlight: Fast and diverse in tempo. This could also have been a BLAZE BAYLEY song.
“Relentless” doesn’t refer to the guitar here, which acts like a blinker: start-stop-start-stop-…, but to the drums and bass, which play on no matter what. The singing here doesn’t go/flow well with the music, I find. To be honest, the song itself, on a whole, isn’t that strong/interesting/captivating/… Even the atmospheric break made me frown, not in the least because of the not so good production on this album. There’s also a ballad on “Cry Havoc”: “Broken”. Ballads are hazardous. It’s hard to write a good ballad. “Broken” isn’t among the good ones, in my opinion. Contrast is created between the two halves: Calm at first, a bit more musical power later on.
“Cold As Ice” has a mysterious, atmospheric intro comparable, not 100% of course, to e.g. MACHINE HEAD. Clean guitar, tension… and *bang* into firm Metal, again with a more melodic chorus. At some point there’s a half-time break, followed by the intro theme. But when you think the song is done then, TYSONDOG restart their engines and add another, instrumental part to it. Why? It sound a bit out of place and it needlessly prolongs the song.
“Crash And Burn” isn’t a SINNER cover. But it’s got pounding drums, fat sounding guitars and all flows firmly onwards. Another ok song, though compared to the (personal) highlights, not that spectacular. Last but not least, the last highlight: “Addiction”. The music fades in, the song is being built and develops into Bluesy Heavy Metal, though with the required power. This is another catchy song and another one that should do well on stage.
I’m not familiar with TYSONDOG’s back catalogue, but “Cry Havoc” is, by itself, a fairly good album. A majority of songs make it entertaining enough. Songs aside, I did not find the production that good, especially for a band that has been around for so long and especially in this day and age. Sometimes the guitars sound too fat for a particular song, the drums are a bit too plastic for my taste and the aforementioned “effect” on the vocals… Maybe it’s just better to see the band at work, maybe the stage is where the songs come out better.
- Cry Havoc
- The Needle
- Shadow Of The Beast
- Into The Void
- Playing With Fire
- Cold As Ice
- Crash And Burn
John Paul Carruthers – vocals
Stevie Morrison – guitar
Paul Burdis – guitar
Kevin Wynn – bass
Phil Brewis – drums