Tiger Army – Prisoner of the Night

Tiger Army - Prisoner of the NightAs they approach their 20th anniversary, it could be said Tiger Army haven’t ever rushed at releasing new material with just four full-length albums in that time and their last, Music From Regions Beyond, coming in 2007. Since then the band have been quiet with occasional live shows and leader Nick 13 concentrating on his solo, country and western, side project.

Over Halloween weekend 2015 though the band, currently comprising 13 (guitar and vocals), James Meza (drums) and Djordje Stijepovic (bull fiddle/upright bass), made a live return with their Octoberflame VII shows including new song Prisoner of the Night and the announcement that a new album would be following in the New Year.

Stemming from the punk rock scene of California in the mid-90s the band have, over the years, worn their influences on their sleeve combining aspects of punk, rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, goth pop and country to create (amidst some debate) their own form of psychobilly and Prisoner of the Night continues this trend.

With their trademark dark hued, but never miserablist, vibe clearly evident from the start the first thing that really strikes here is the addition to the mix of a piano/organ and trumpet that gives the song a bit more of a leaning towards the frontman’s country and early rock ‘n’ roll influences.

Nick 13 of Tiger Army (photo by Casey Curry)
Nick 13 of Tiger Army (photo by Casey Curry)

With this though 13’s Gretsch guitar maintains a suitable overdriven tone beneath and, while his Davey Havok like vocals seem long banished to the past, the more tuneful, reverb drenched voice gives the song a haunting quality.

A big part of the sound of psychobilly, and what really makes the argument for Tiger Army’s inclusion in the genre, comes from the rhythm section, and Meza and Stijepovic deliver in great fashion. Though somewhat muted in the retro-styled recording, Meza’s drums have the appropriate snap to keep the beat insistent and penetrating while the classic rockabilly slap of the Bull Fiddle Cat himself complete the package.

The chorus, as evidenced on its live debut, provides some great sing-along material while the remainder of the lyrics paint a particularly evocative picture that has a tone of film noir and vintage mystery to it, giving Prisoner of the Night an enigmatic quality that sums up a lot of the band’s spirit.

This all suggests that they have continued in the directions hinted at by Music From Regions Beyond and that not rushing into new material for the sake of it may have served them very well and bodes well for the upcoming fifth album to be released through their own LunaTone Records and Rise Records.

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