written by Mike Cox
â€œMusic From The Regions Beyondâ€ may be Tiger Armyâ€™s fourth full length offering, but itâ€™s their first attempt at a radio friendly album. Oblivious only seconds into â€œPrelude: Signal Returnâ€ (track one) â€œMusic From Regions Beyondâ€ is just that, music from regions far beyond what has become the trademark Tiger Army style.
Prelude: Signal Return is IIII’s version of the recurring intro fans have become accustomed to. Gone is the black streaked Psycho-Billy style, replaced with a dark neo-disco pop sound that seems to be all the rage these days. Suffice it to say the track is saved by the dark thumping of Jeff Roffredoâ€™s bass and the omnipresent group shout out: â€œTiger Army Never Die!â€ followed by a bass laden track just oozing punk ferocity. The second cut â€œHotprowlâ€ starts full bore and never backs down. Highlighted by Nick13 showcasing his vocal talent, these two are the closest anyone is getting to vintage T.A. on IIII.
At this point things change. Now the catalyst for change could and should be attributed to several things. The slick â€œput me in rotationâ€ sound comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Producer Jerry Finnâ€™s work. Thatâ€™s right, the same Jerry Finn credited for
thrusting AFI into the national spotlight and jacking up Alkaline Trioâ€™s Sound Scan. Finn really exerts his influence on tracks like â€œAfterworldâ€ and â€œForever Fades Awayâ€ the former even featuring AFI front man Davey Havok. Loyal fans may reject both tracks, but expect them to get some heavy airtime. And speaking of rejection, one has to question Nick13â€™s departure from the normal T.A. lyrical content. Gone are the days of evil anthems and b-grade blood and guts. Bye, bye Bram Stoker hello Anne Rice. When did Psycho-Billy become â€œemoâ€ sensitive?
Musically the band has switched things up as well. Take for example track eight, â€œAs The Cold Rain Fallsâ€ a confusing rant on some love lost supported by an eighties soundtrack that just reeks new wave revival. Itâ€™s almost contradictory. Listening to numbers like â€œLunatoneâ€ and the Spanish take â€œHechizo de Amorâ€ (Spell of Love) will make loyal fans grimace with pain, yearn to grab T.A. II and play F.T.W. at full volume. Alas we are saved, “Where the Moss Slowly Grows” the albums eleventh and final song is a thought provoking Rock-a-Billy classic. The perfect medium for Nicks newer writing and softer vocal styles. Stirring chilling visions of a graveside outpouring with a lover no longer of this world.
Complaints and criticism aside, Tiger Army IIII amounts to a mediocre album from an excellent group. Even so fans should still be thankful. Nick13 is the sole reason T.A. exists. Having released four albums, the band has seen four different drummers and three count em three bass players. Nicks vision and dedication have never been more evident. So werecatyouth give thanks and send the evil shout out to Nick. Remember critical acclaim comes and goes with the moonlight, but loyal fans remainâ€¦like zombies in the night.