Rock ‘n roll and heavy metal will never die, and every time I find a new band comes along that reminds me of times long past it proves that statement all over again. One of these newcomers is Wisconsin’s Tantivy, a duo that’s paid tribute to equal amounts of 70s and 80s hard rock, NWOBHM, punk, and even a little thrash on their debut EP Eyes in the Night. While the five songs fly by quickly they pack plenty of catchy hooks that hop between different elements of rock and traditional metal with a rougher edge to the vocals to tie everything together, and it’s a strong start for a band that has left themselves a ton of different directions to head in.
The first time you listen to Eyes in the Night, what stands out the most is how much ground they’re covering in nineteen minutes. While plenty of newcomers go for a specific take on thrash, heavy metal, or hard rock, Tantivy is hard to pin down to one or two influences. Opener “I Am the Wolf” comes in somewhere between Motörhead and thrash/speed metal, almost coming through like a more rock-oriented version of Speedwolf. This type of high energy riffing and grittier sound always has that immediate hook for me and the band could’ve easily stuck with this approach the entire way through, but once you get to “Cut ‘em Loose” it’s clear this duo has other ideas. Immediately shifting gears, the guitar work that opens up this track has a softer groove and fuzzier tone that leads into another fast and furious riff fest. Although the faster tempos is a common factor between each of the tracks, Tantivy heads in slightly different directions on each one, channeling early punk and NWOBM just as much as classic hard rock like Thin Lizzy. Some of these shifts in style are subtle, but it keeps these guys from being yet another newcomer channeling the basics of Judas Priest or Motörhead and calling it a day, as there’s a bit more beneath the surface.
Vocals in this type of heavy metal and hard rock can vary widely, but Adam Geurink’s approach keeps Tantivy firmly rooted in the grittier side of the spectrum. His voice isn’t quite as low-pitched as Lemmy and company, but there’s a rougher edge to his performance that makes it come in somewhere between a gruff singing pitch and a thrashier scream/yell with a little bit of punk edge in there for good measure. This approach tends to be an acquired taste for some, especially when their preference is the clean pitches and falsettos of NWOBM, but the rawness and aggressiveness on display throughout Eyes in the Night does help to distinguish the band. Geurink does shake things up a bit when the music slows down ever so slightly with some occasional singing that comes up from the grime, but for the most part the vocals will make you recall and maybe even long for the days of seeing live shows in your dirtiest dive bar.
The compactness and continuous hooks throughout Tantivy’s debut make a strong first impression, and I’ve found myself heading back to this EP regularly. It remains to be seen if they choose to keep this same level of variety between hard rock, heavy metal, and punk influences on a longer effort or if they’ll instead focus in on a particular variant and explore that further, but no matter what path they choose there’s a lot for listeners to look forward to. But for now, crank this one loud and let the rock and metal flow.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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