Sound: Never a band to sit back and rest on their laurels, Tiger Army's latest offering again branches out from their psychobilly roots and embraces a much heavier and darker punk sound more reminiscent of mid-'90s AFI. This may not be too surprising what with front man Nick 13's previous ties with the band, but it is certainly pushed forward even further with the inclusion of AFI's Davey Havok on lead vocals for four of the albums songs. Fortunately for Tiger Army fans, the ties between the two bands stop there, and there is no sign of AFI's later dabbling in industrial and experimental music to affect the solid punk album that the band have produced.
After kicking off with Prelude, ending in their mantra "Tiger Army Never Die," the album doesn't break its gait until after the second song Hotprowl, the first sung primarily by Havok. Things slow down a little for Afterworld before the single Forever Fades Away hits. Once again the unmistakable hints of AFI appear with similar chord progressions and lyrics, whilst Havok sings on the chorus. Despite this, it is still unmistakably Tiger Army's music, and once Havok disappears until the tenth track, fans will welcome the more familiar sound of the band. The '80s influences planted in TAIII definitely continue though, with hints of The Cure and Morrisey's music cropping up throughout the rest of the album. Whilst this isn't the first Tiger Army release to have hints of '80s rock and post punk, it certainly takes it a step further and the result is nothing but positive. // 9
Lyrics: The album follows a similar theme from start to end, with lyrics not just being of an identical topic between songs, but often borrowing the same metaphors and images and carrying them throughout the album. The story of a lost relationship may be a little cliche, but you'd never know it with the fast, aggressive guitar work and brilliant minimalist vocals totally dominating the songs. This isn't to say the lyrics take a back seat, but these guys could really be singing about anything and the excellent music and melody would make still shine through.
The lyrics on a whole are well written although perhaps not as complex as a topic of this type should be. Saying that, Nick 13 does a great job of using metaphor and imagery more often than not to replace what would otherwise be cliched writing. The end result is a set of original lyrics that flow more like one long song, all connected in both theme and style, than ten separate ones. There are better concept albums out there, but Music From Regions Beyond loses nothing from this. It's a solid album regardless. // 8
Overall Impression: Whilst the similarities to older AFI are strong, it would be unfair dwell on this for too long. AFI have long since moved on from making this kind of music and apart from a couple of tracks, most notably Afterlife and Forever Fades Away, those similarities are either very subtle or non existent. It is perhaps more sensible to instead look back further to '80s post-punk and see that those bands influenced Tiger Army's latest offerings. On the whole this is a solid departure for Tiger Army which should be welcomed by fans. Change is always expected with these guys and just as we can expect Music From Regions Beyond to be a bit of a one off in terms of style, we've come to expect nothing more from the ever changing, ever strong Tiger Army. // 8