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(42:34, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hell 3:41 2. Pan American Grindstone 3:13 3. Cannonball 3:42 4. Commando 2:45 5. Anywhere But Here 3:20 6. The Deep 3:43 7. Building Up to Die 5:08 8. Killer 3:13 9. Float Away 3:58 10. Heavy Lifting 9:52 LINEUP: Thomas Karlsen vocals; percussion Paal Dale drums; keyboards; vocals Olav Vikingstad guitars; vocals Eirik Wik guitars; vocals Patrick Andersson bass With: Bjarte Rolland piano
Prolusion. The Norwegian band TIEBREAKER was formed in 2011, and has been releasing material at a steady rate ever since. An initial EP came in 2012 and was followed by their self-released debut album "We Came from the Mountains" in 2014, a production that saw them being signed by the Norwegian label Karisma Records, which reissued the CD in 2015. "Death Tunes" is the second full-length CD by Tiebreaker, released via Karisma Records in the fall of 2016.
Analysis. Karisma Records is a label that, by and large, has focused on progressive rock bands from Norway in general and the western part of the nation in particular. While Tiebreaker does fit within the last of these parameters, they are an exception to the first. The kind of music they specialize in is probably best described as vintage hard rock. There are many directions one can take within the vintage hard rock scene, and in the case of Tiebreaker I rather suspect that placing them inside a context of Americas 70s hard rock is fairly appropriate. Not that all of their music has a distinct US-oriented sound, actually. Many of the songs are what one might describe as more generic in nature, lacking a sound and style that would firmly place them inside a European or US context, but the ones that do strike me as being much closer to the US than any of the European traditions as such. Cue a song like Anywhere but Here, which is filed as a southern rock-flavored affair. This is a band that does like to roam a bit however. Busy, hectic material with a garage rock flavor belongs here just as much as songs with more of a foundation in blues-laden hard rock, at times with a wee bit of stoner rock thrown in for good measure. The song Building Up to Die gives me associations in the direction of The Cult as they were in their prime, while Float Away uses licks and riffs with a slight funky touch at times, as well as some delicate touches with just a whiff of psychedelia to them. That drummer Dale has at times a more delicate mode of delivery that comes across as slightly jazz-tinged, expanding the canvas ever so slightly too, and the concluding monumental blues rock Heavy Lifting, with its gradual build from a calm and delicate blues-oriented affair to a more majestic and monumental arrangement, and then concluding on a frail, sacral note, is another composition that showcases a band that quite clearly doesn't restrict themselves to one specific sound or subset of vintage hard rock. Tiebreaker is a versatile band operating in the vintage hard rock universe in other words. Not always managing to create those songs that will make a massive impact, a task which isn't at all easy when exploring a style of music as heavily explored as this one for the last 40 years, but they do have their moments where the talents combine in creating strong songs that will appeal also beyond the first few inspections of the album.
Conclusion. While Tiebreaker doesn't strike me as a band that will appeal all that much to a strictly progressive rock oriented audience, I do believe that those with a passionate interest in vintage-style hard rock will appreciate the qualities of this band, in particular those with a broad general interest in music of this kind, and perhaps also a certain affection for bands of this general nature that tend to draw more inspiration from the US based hard rock bands of the 70s.
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