Tyrann – Besatt Review

Metal moved fast in the 80s. It was the wild, open frontier–there was so much room to push things faster, louder, and more aggressive. Simultaneously, it’s bastard cousin in punk was pushing stripped roots rock to its most feral bones. Metal found its polar divide between thrash and glam, while punk split between hardcore and new wave.

Release date: June 2, 2023. Label: Electric Assault Records
Sweden’s Tyrann fit snugly into the puzzle of pre-1985 rock music–specifically the sparse but well-beloved tunes coming from Sweden. That strange, saccharine innocence that came part ‘n’ parcel with the likes of Heavy Load, Gotham City, and the criminally overlooked Jonah Quizz. Everyone loves Epicus Doomicus, and for good reason. However, Johan’s work prior to Candlemass is a bit more indicative of the elements of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal finding a few rogue ears in a somewhat conservative musical landscape of an ’80s Sweden more enamored with euro-pop than anything to do with cutoff denim and loud guitars.

Despite being musical outcasts in the pop-infected scene of the country, its earliest adherents to heavy metal still felt obligated to writing catchy, infectious hooks–and bless ’em for it. There’s a reason the aforementioned bands have weathered the storm to regain cult followings around those early recordings decades after the fact, and a lot of it has to do with the almost childlike innocence from whence their metal is forged.


Perhaps that’s what makes bands like Tyrann feel so special. The band doesn’t feel so much like they’re copying their forebears so much as understanding what made them so exceptional in the first place. On both their debut, Djävulens musik, and their most recent full-length, Besatt, Tyrann bring an honest delivery to their music–a love letter to Swedish metal without the excessive fan services of callback riffs or cheeky nods to classics.

The songs stand on their own, as evidenced by what would surely be the cut that would make a single or compilation track back in the 80’s. “Face The Tyrant” bursts out with Ramones-like energy and simplicity to its initial progression, a coupla chords and an anthemic hook:

T for Tyrann
for You
R for Restless
for Anxious
for Nightmare
[also] for Nightmare
We are Tyrann!
Tyrann! Tyrann!”
guitar hits every note in a short ‘n’ sweet solo to add just the right amount of punctuation to this bold statement

As one reviewer has negatively questioned the band, “Were you drunk?!” To which I say, hell yeah, that’s exactly what’s great about Tyrann. It’s drunk on heavy metal, baby, don’t let its deceptive simplicity fool you. It doesn’t need to make sense, the only principle is every voice on the record is serving the song and sounding like they mean it. While nothing gets too flashy, the musicianship is more than serviceable–these guys know exactly what they’re doing. Thanks to the impressively clean but minimalist production, it’s evident that the members are accomplished musicians letting loose and having fun with the sort of music that taps into their roots, something that grabs for the heart and puts it back a little stronger.

Check those glimmering guitar tones as the solos glisten over the title track. While Tyrann aren’t overbeefing it, it’s clear that they aren’t hiding behind the “discovered tape” production aesthetic in the hopes that listeners will hear something cooler than what’s actually going on. The stripped, crisp, dynamic production matches the clean, humble aesthetic of the cover. Nothing flashy, just bare-bones, honest heavy metal that wants to most accurately bare its iron heart to the world. It wants, it begs, to be judged by how the music serves the songs penned between its covers.


Maybe it’s the way in which Tyrann translate classic Swedish rock to the modern tongue, but I cannot help but see 90’s Swedish skatepunk bands like Millencolin, Stoned, No Fun At All, and Pridebowl in fresh context, at least in terms of the way they constructed hooks. There’s a weird link between the 80s steel of Heavy Load/Jonah Quizz/Mindless Sinner and the unabashed, borderline nonsensical spirit of fun of the aforementioned bands that bleeds into Tyrann’s energetic Swedish assault. Even the album’s closest equivalent to a ballad, the soulful “Ingen Tid För Oss” (“No Time For Us”), gleans with the deceptively simplistic spirit, the innocence, without losing the passionate energy that burns behind the project.


The only complaint I can fathom with Besatt is also the problem that plagues all throwback bands: while Tyrann does a better job than most at finding its own voice in the classics, it never treads much too further than the source material. It works well for an album or two, but where do you take it from there? Besatt feels like a great continuation of the ideas of Djävulens musik, but it also feels like a second exclaimation point at the end of a sentence!! It doesn’t add much new, though arguably, it really doesn’t need to when it tickles the ears like Besatt does. At the very least, Tyrann are continuing to burn a fresh torch for old flames tailor made to steal hearts and infect minds at fests like Muskelrock–and as long as they keep tying them off at this level of quality I will continue to bite the hooks dangling in the waters of the pure heart and spirit in their music.

Det finns en muskel vi litar på…

Photo: Olle Granat

Posted by Ryan Tysinger

I listen to music, then I write about it. (Outro: The Winds Of Mayhem)

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