|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Stone Groove||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website: Tykküs|
|Tracks: 25||Rating: No Quote|
Phoenix, Arizona based Tykküs ranks among the many metal bands whose star did not shine for long but shined brightly when it did. Promising but abbreviated careers are all too common within the hard music scene, as acts both signed (Recon, Red Sea & Rage Of Angels) and unsigned (Soldier, Taker, Paradox & Crossforce) readily attest. While said bands disbanded and its members went their separate ways, the music - much to the delight of the metal and hard rock community - remains. Enter labels such as M8 (re-issuing the backlog of Soldier material in 2001 under the title The Definitive Collection) in addition to Demon Doll (Paradox compilation from 2011 entitled Power And Glory) and Roxx Productions (re-releasing the Crossforce and Taker back catalogs, Rockin’ Til’ The Final Day and It Is Finished, in 2011 and 2014, respectively).
Another label of such note is Stone Groove Records, which in 2014 put out the consummate Tykküs compilation entitled Hystorykküks Maximüs. Included along with the groups popular 2005 Ümlaut EP is the “Convince You Too” single, demos recorded in 1995 and 2007, the “Live” Clams & All Show” from 2004 and 1985 pre-Tykküs EP from Rizer.
The most well known version of Tykküs - the one whose star shined the shortest but brightest - is that from the mid 2000’s. A partnership between guitarist Dale Burton and former Next Realm member’s guitarist Justin Frear and drummer Steve Slack led to its founding, with Burton and Frear acquainted from previously being part of the same band in the mid-nineties. Tykküs, standing for Teaching You Kingdom Knowledge Unto Salvation, later rounded out its line up with the recruitment of vocalist Randy Michaud (D.T. Seizure), who met Frear via the Christian Metal Realm, and bassist Brian Weldin, responding to a local musician’s ad.
The Ümlaut EP that followed shortly thereafter walks a fine line between traditional heavy metal and commercial melodic metal (think in terms of the heavier material from early Stryper and Bloodgood joined with the muscle of Saint). Opener “Born To Die” hits hard with a technical milieu in upholding a catchy hook and melodic guitars throughout. Michaud shines with his powerful, mid-ranged vocal abilities. “Convince You” picks up the tempo from its youthful energy, stalwart and keyed up but maintaining the Tykküs sense of melody at the same time, while “Warfare” comes across astringent with a bottom heavy feel (almost hinting of a frightening touch of doom) and perfectly in step bluesy guitar solo. “With His Love” touches upon classy melodic metal, as distinguished by its smooth riff action and shouted backing vocals driving its engaging chorus.
The “Convince You Too” is the same song as “Convince You” except with newcomer Will V on lead vocals, who replaced the departed Michaud in 2006. Will V brings the slightly higher register in terms of comparison (observation and not critique).
The three demo tracks from 2007 find Will V settling into a comfortable groove in exhibiting the full range to his voice. “King Of Thieves” hints of classic US power metal (sort of like Jacobs Dream or InnerSiege) from its darker and majestically tinged qualities, while “Save Me” proves lighter and airy in giving rise to a semi-ballad feel. “Chasing The Wind” approaches melodic power metal (think Rob Rock’s solo material) as galloping riffs and sublime refrain play decisive roles. The musical maturity of the three make one wish Tykküs had moved forward with its plan to record a full-length album as opposed to breaking up.
Tykküs recorded the eight live tracks March 20, 2004 but with a different line-up: Joining Burton, Frear and Slack is vocalist and bassist Robin Ryvord, the predecessor of Michaud and Weldin. The set includes the four from Ümlaut and four others. I am going to focus on the latter, but keep in mind the live material is a bit rough around the edges, albeit in a positive sense (I appreciate live tracks that sound ‘live’ as opposed to being doctored from a lot of polish on the back end).
My favorite is “Give Your Life”, a Tykküs style eighties ballad: Plenty of heart and emotion to go along with the engaging hooks. Saint cover “In The Night” is a Tykküs live staple (hulking guitars, freight train momentum and shouted backing vocals paint the picture at hand). Both would sound right at home on Ümlaut. “Make The Right Move” (straight on cowbell driven hard rocker) and “Rockin’ With You” (cliché entitled no-nonsense metal piece) round things out.
The details about the Tykküs roster that recorded the three demo tracks from 1995 are sketchy (liner notes list only two members, Burton and vocalist Jeff Braynard). When placed alongside Tykküs circa 2004-2007, the mid-nineties version brings more of a commercial eighties metal and hard rock feel. “Give Your Life” stands out best in this capacity, coming across that much better in a studio setting with edgier guitars and layers of prodigious backing vocals. Also of note are the fantastic vocals of Braynard, who brings a gritty and raspy style not unlike Larry Worley (Fear Not) and Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen & Joshua Perahia). “Born To Die” and “With His Love” are represented as well but not in the same polished format as their Ümlaut counterparts (the 1995 demo is a bit thin production wise).
The Rizer EP dates to 1985 and reflects the musical influences of the time in taking a high-energy, melodic metal heading (Stryper, early Guardian, Soldier, Hero and Messiah Prophet come to mind). Production stands out when factoring the era at hand (rhythm guitars are thick and weighty with leads cleanly mixed). In my opinion, the sound outshines initial releases from contemporaries Saint (Warriors Of The Son), The Messiah Prophet Band (Rock The Flock), Philadelphia (Tell The Truth) and Emerald (“Armed For Battle”).
As far as I can tell, the lone tie between Rizer and Tykküs is guitarist Dale Burton (liner notes do not go into a lot of detail). Opener “The Reign”, fast paced, tenacious and catchy, features plenty of Burton’s ripping guitar leads in addition to an unnamed but very good mid-ranged lead vocalist with a forthright delivery. “Soul Patrol” tempers the pace but not quality in highlighting straight on metal aspects, while “Born Again” (plenty of youthful backing vocals) and “The Giver” (more stunning lead guitar) increase the pace with their expeditious riff mentalities. “Make The Right Move” showcases that much more resolve and spirit in a studio format (I found the live version to come across a bit flat) and “Stand Up And Praise Him”, as its title implies, a metal worship assault.
It is too bad Rizer did not garner greater acclaim and notoriety. If better known, and its EP received proper distribution (it should have seen release on vinyl or at the very least re-issued at a later point in the decade), the group had the potential to be mentioned in the same sentence as Saint, Bloodgood, Barren Cross, Neon Cross, etc. Hence, it was not a lack of musical ability that held Rizer back but rather a lack of promotion. In the end, the Rizer EP proves an undiscovered gem that I would like to see professionally re-mastered and re-issued on a stand-alone basis.
Hystorykküks Maximüs covers a period that lasted nearly twenty years. As a result, it can be problematic comparing the Rizer material and nineties era Tykküs with that following the turn of the century (completely separate entities for all practical purposes). Yes, the latter is the most well known but former two are not to be overlooked. There is a lot to like either way, with the Ümlaut EP finding the group at its melodically heaviest and 2007 demo artistic best. The nostalgic Rizer tracks are worth the price of the compilation alone, while the 1995 demo highlights potential as well. Yes, a great deal of material, but Hystorykküks Maximüs proves worth the investment all the same for fans of eighties melodic and traditional heavy metal.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Rizer EP: “The Reign” (4:44), “Soul Patrol” (4:40), “Born Again” (3:38), “Make The Right Move” (3:39), “The Giver” (3:15), “Stand Up And Praise Him” (4:20)
1995 Demo: “Born To Die” (4:59), “Give Your Life” (4:17), “With His Love” (4:00)
Live: Clams & All: “With His Love” (3:45), “Give Your Life” (4:11), “How Can I Convince You” (4:47), “In The Night” (3:42), “Warfare” (6:28), “Make The Right Move” (3:45), “Born To Die” (4:38), “Rockin’ With You” (3:25)
Ümlaut: Born To Die” (4:30), “Convince You” (4:27), “Warfare” (6:24), “With His Love” (3:43)
“Convince You Too” single: (4:25)
2007 Demo: “King Among Thieves” (4:37), “Save Me” (4:48), “Chasing The Wind” (3:50)