Review: Tysondog – Midnight
From The Vaults (April 29th, 2022)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Tysondog are survivors of the original New Wave of British Heavy Metal, having formed in 1982. Now you may have heard of some of the other groups from the time like Saxon, and of course bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard who came from the same scene, simply exploded into public consciousness, and became part of the rock firmament. For various reasons, Tysondog did not follow them into the mainstream, and, like many other bands, they were all but unknown to later generations of NWOBHM fans. However, you can’t keep a good band down and in 2012 they reformed and released their first album in 2014. ‘Midnight‘ is the band’s 4th album and features John Clutch Carruthers on vocals, Phil Brewis on drums, Steve Morrison and Paul Burdis on guitars and bassist Kev Wynn.
The opening track, ‘Battalion‘, starts with the whistles and shouts of soldiers going over the top in World War I and then explodes into Burdis and Wynn’s guitar assault backed up by Brewis’ visceral drumming and Wynn’s thumping bass. Carruthers shows that age has not wearied his voice as he goes into full attack mode, decrying the waste of life and the men whose stories will never be told. It is a stunning start to the album that is one of my favourite tracks of the year already.
‘Cold Day in Hell‘ is another full-blooded assault on the senses that has a bluesy edge to Carruthers’ vocals which lifts it out of the usual run of heavy metal tracks. ‘Dead Man Walking‘ keeps up the quality with a guitar solo at the start that frames the track as a straightforward rock song. When the vocals come in, they are more restrained than the previous two tracks and give full value to the excellent, sardonic lyrics. ‘Defiant‘ takes Tysondog into Maiden territory and loses nothing in the comparison. It is reminiscent of Be Quick or Be Dead and Carruthers just owns the vocals every step of the way. In these first four tracks you can hear the sound of a band who had a huge amount to offer in 1982 and just as much to give to the scene in 2022.
‘Hellbound‘ is another track with an unmistakeable blues base that impressed me with its restraint and its lyrical power. In another timeline you can imagine them selling out arenas across the world with tracks of this quality. ‘It Lives‘ is more of a punk classic ramped up with pounding drums and you can hear the defiance and anger loud and clear. ‘Midnight‘ starts off with a deceptively soft solo that seems to be the introduction to a rock ballad. No chance! This title track simply shows off another side to them with a stylish take on the metal genre that any group would be happy to have in their locker.
‘Paper Cuts‘ is the penultimate track and this time the soft guitar does lead them into more melodic rock ballad territory, though there is despair in the brilliant lyrics, rather than romance, as Carruthers reflects on someone who has died before their time. It is a very effective piece of music that will speak to anyone who has lost a friend or loved one. The final track, ‘Waiting for God‘, is a classy finish to an excellent album that reflects on religion and mortality in a way that will really make you think. It is the lyrics that leave the biggest impression throughout this album. They are grown up and insightful in a way that sets Tysondog apart. Make no mistake, Tysondog definitely deserved to be at the top table of NWOBHM, but instead of reflecting on what might have been, this excellent album sees them looking at what is and what will be. It’s time to discover Tysondog if you haven’t already.