There is a very special place in my heart for Baltimore, Maryland, US. I have never been there but it is an obvious fact that the music of many bands coming from this particular city have shaped my overall aesthetic and taste when it comes to Metal. The result may be that many of my friends keep on pointing today that “Chris, this Prog / Power Metal thing you adore does not played anymore today” but I deeply know that the very first time I listened to that OMEGA POINT demo or the very first time I watched an entire EN FORCE show on the video, I widely felt that something very important was evolving in my musical personality as I already have MYSTIC FORCE and APOLLO RA in the main guideline pointing the road to Baltimore.
Arkeyn Steel Records was always keeping a focused eye on the Baltimore scene, reissuing some important pieces of underground Metal history, that was obviously written in this place. The works of MANIFEST, REIGNSTORM and -of course- OMEGA POINT are important numbers on the label’s back catalog and with the current reissue there is one more Baltimore jewel added on the list, perhaps the finest and the rarest one. I am referring to TYR.
Founded back in 1991 and lasting only for two years before their split up in 1993, TYR have released one of the most phenomenal and rare LP tapes of the 90s US Power Metal underground: “Of Law and War” was released in 1992, in 300-400 copies -not even the band members are sure about the exact number-.
Musically we got an excellent and one of a kind combination of Heavy, Power, Prog and Neoclassical Metal. Someone can obviously track down the song basis that comes straight from the golden DIO era, so in here we can put the Heavy Metal basis. But hey this is only a starting point, as there is a serious development that drives the songs in the Neoclassical / Power Metal formulas of RAINBOW and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. And yes TYR is perhaps the only band from the US that can open a straight connection -thanks to their Yngwie influences- to the realm of my favorite Japanese Neoclassical scene and pioneer bands like CONCERTO MOON, EBONY EYES etc.
Virtuoso guitar leads and solos, magnificent high range vocals and an overall atmosphere balancing between romanticism and epic obscurity. Oh this very special atmosphere… Mainly generated thanks to the beautiful classical parts on keyboards and acoustic parts on the guitars. There is something very strange and very beautiful floating in TYR’s soundscape.
T stands for TYR and T stands for Talent and “talent” is the first word that comes to my mind when I am referring to the music of this excellent band.
If “Of War and Law” was a massively released record on a major record label then it would be considered an all time classic and would be placed next to huge albums of Y. MALMSTEEN, CRIMSON GLORY, CACOPHONY etc. Well it was a private LP tape released by the band itself, remaining unknown even to die-hard collectors.
Thankfully Arkeyn Steel Records reissues this masterpiece for the very first time on CD featuring completely remastered sound (Kostas Scandalis did a great work for one more time), reworked artwork (by Kostas Athanasoglou), never before seen photos, complete lyrics, biography -by band’s founding member, drummer Steven Miller– and bonus tracks (from the band’s live archives, songs that are not included on the main studio release).
In my opinion “Of War and Law” is one of the most important releases to come from the Baltimore Metal scene. It contains phenomenal and high class music and it is about time to be discovered by everyone. In my personal list this release stands next to ultimate classics like “Eternal Quest” by MYSTIC FORCE. I am sure you would agree with me even from the very first listen.
I could write thousands and thousands of words about the Baltimore, Maryland Metal scene. About VISIONARY that evolved to DIVISON (by the way Miller played on their fantastic “Paradise Lost” debut check it if you are after some good US Power Metal oh the the excellent “Demo 95” by VISIONARY), about EN FORCE opening from DREAM THEATER, and about many similar facts that would take the writer and the reader back on a golden age: When elegance and force were the two key points for our favorite Metal music.
“Of Law and War” will be released May 19th, on Arkeyn Steel Records. You can pre order it here.