There’s something romantic about falling for heavy metal in a language you don’t understand. In a way, it’s the purest form of the music–the words themselves, stripped of the power of recognition, rely entirely on their instrumental, musical, and emotional value rather than any preconceived notions as to what the songs themselves may be about. The words become reliant upon delivery. Much in the way true guitar tone comes from the fingers before any sort of amp selection comes into play, there has to be conviction and natural flow to the delivery. It transcends definitive, technical understanding. Sure, lyrics can be important, but they should be absorbed separately from the delivery. To put it briefly, a good poet does not a good singer make. So when that understanding of language is removed, the bias towards the subject matter disintegrates. All that’s left is the human voice and the conviction within. (Cue Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption here).
The searing opening track of “Djävulens Musik” with its rallying call to arms sets the stage perfectly. While the title to “Don’t Make Fashion Of Our Heavy Metal Passion” may come across as an over-reach into the realms of cringe, it’s saved by, well, the passion. Much like the disconnect that happens with the loss of linguistic comprehension, its all about how sincerely it’s delivered, no matter the words. While the title may come across as gatekeeping, the unifying quality of the song’s gang vocal “heys!” is more of a plea. It’s almost as though Tyrann aren’t hear to beat posers down–they want to show them the way. Despite “Don’t Make Fashion”‘s English title, it’s actually the following track that relies most on English, and it’s possibly, in my linguistic bias, the catchiest tune on the record. Lindqvist’s breakout vocals set the tone, with the leads guiding a melody that follows to the chorus. The drums attack comfortably from deep in the pocket, hitting just the right fills and pauses. That undeniably contagious chorus erupts:
Burn with me! Baby burn!
Turn to darkness, turn, turn turn!
Burn with me! Baby burn!
It makes sense in a loose way, it’s more about the ideas, the sketch. The poetism is in the delivery, not the words themselves! And that hook slips cleanly through the ear, amplified at the bridge with a triumphant shuffle of the hi-hat and trade-off of guitar solos. The final thirty seconds amp things further with some tastefully sparse synth work. Tyrann don’t seem to write anything that would rely on a synth player live, but certainly make use of a bit of studio magic to sprinkle some extra flair to conclude the tune.
Hang with me for a second here: “Den Andra Siden” is making jazz in the strict parameters of pop-centric classic heavy metal. There’s something so subliminally natural in the flow of the song. The way the little guitar licks, pick slides, and crescendos align at a Steve Harris styled bridge that just lets the guitars soar over a driving rhythm into the chorus feels so free-form, inspired organically from the song itself. The flanged guitar that emerges from the uptick of energy at the track’s climax, coupled with Lindqvist’s “Woooah-oh-oh-oooohs” (that require zero translation) bring it all home.
The catchiness continues across the slower, yet no less infectious, “Satanisk Majestät.” The hooks that the band set earlier on hold strong as Tyrann build out of a reverb-soaked slow passage to a triumphant chorus just on the precipice of becoming a power ballad. The aforementioned “Sodom” kicks things back up to high-octane before another infectious mid-paced banger in “Undergång.” Yet it’s the concluding track that really bookend’s Tyrann’s alnumcraft. The eponymous “Tyrann” plays out like pledge. That hi-hat shuffle hits double-time over the increasingly intimidating call from the band of “Tyrann! Tyrann, Tyrann!” The callback to “Don’t Make Fashion Of Our Heavy Metal Fashion,” is instantly recognizable, and that linguistic hook-hammer drives home again. Yet with every call back, the song springs forward. The guitar solo transforms to a bridge section that breaks down to an almost Spaghetti Western mode. It’s as though Tyrann are galloping off to a sunset as those single guitar notes join into twin mode. The rhythm section ajoins as the full band falls into ranks to ride off into the sunset.
While the album’s cover fully matches the spirit of the music, it’s almost misleading in how simplistic it is. It reflects the sprit of Tyrann–the spirit to fight using the fundamentals of heavy metal to craft something inspirational. Something worth fighting for. And Tyrann absolutely succeed in cutting off the ring, keeping the fight in the realm of the golden age of heavy metal rock through eight solid rounds of heartfelt, emotional fisticuffs to emerge as lineal champions of classic steel.