Wow, this is a weird one. On several occasions during the duration of Death Tunes – which, it has to be said, is a very tidy effort, very tidy indeed – I found myself thinking ‘this sounds like Eddie Vedder jamming with Ocean Colour Scene’.
Like I say, weird, because I absolutely loathe Britpop bozos OCS, and I’m not a big fan of Vedder or Pearl Jam beyond a few tracks on the band’s first album if I’m honest, yet there’s absolutely nothing I don’t like about Tiebreaker, who are absolutely bloody magnificent!
They don’t always sound like that, mind. In fact their sound is almost indefinable. Their facebook page carries the self-wrought genre definement ‘rock n’roll explosion’, and that’s as good a way as any to describe Death Tunes. Despite being blues-drenched traditionalists there’s something very ‘now’ about the Tiebreaker sound. Float Away might have an underlying Zeppelin vibe to it, but the much more aggressive vocals of Thomas Espeland Karlsen make it just that – a vibe – with there never being any doubt that these boys are very much their own men as opposed to mealy mouthed copyists.
There’s a progressive air about the material – that’s progressive in the very best sense, not the Iron Maiden ‘íts prog so it must be fifteen minute long’ sense – with only the closing ten minute blues of Heavy Lifting being more traditional in structure and execution. Even then the churchy ‘amen’ ending to the song kind of turns things on it’s head when you’re least expecting it, again underlying the suspicion that Tiebreaker really do have something fresh to offer.
If you’re so inclined, you might get a whiff of the more accessible moments of Kvelertak or Blodig Alvor here – though again, it’s only very ephemeral with the band singing in English and not being anywhere near as heavy as those two acts – and it’s that very clever couching of other people’s essence without ever being caught with their hands in the till that makes this band such an appetising proposition.
They realise it’s all been done before, they know we realise it too, yet somehow they take a very traditional format and breath fire and new life into it. Death Tunes is going to be superglued to my stereo for a long time to come, I can tell you.