TANGO DOWN – Identity Crisis (2012)

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Founded by guitarist Scott ‘Rif’ Miller, American rockers TANGO DOWN were moulding their sound through the years, and that morphing was accompanied with different singers on each of their albums.

On the debut we find Canadian Phil Naro, on the 2nd the more Hair Metal oriented Alex Barbieri stepped in, and now, for the band’s brand new recording “Identity Crisis” the vocal ‘man amongst boys’ takes the reins; David Reece of Bangalore Choir fame.

Tango Down is now a mature, gritty, bluesy hard rock machine, but still somehow upholds those trademark hyper-melodic choruses, making for a unique blend of styles on this CD, which does not suffer an “Identity Crisis” at all… it’s their best work to date and one hell of a good album.

The band wastes no time in flaunting their new attitude on the first track “Cryin’ to Me”, with ‘Rif’ maniacally riffing away with sharp, bubbling leads before Reece starts singing. It’s not typical to hear hard rock aggression in Tango Down, but Reece is the perfect man for the job. He’s cynical, biting, and yet melodic as hell. This is a smart way to re-unveil Tango Down.

“Dream Child” is old school US Metal, with guitars coming at you like Keel or Ratt or maybe some Dokken. There’s a bit of a sinister groove here, a crescendo to a bad place as the song catapults to the actual uplifting chorus. Reece’s scream before the guitar solo is so throaty and testosterone-ridden you’ll be taking note that Tango Down is a new animal.

Throughout the album as well, you are going to keep thinking Joe Lynn Turner and Whitesnake helped write these songs and that vibe is prevalent all over.

One of the tracks the band will probably highlight sooner or later is “Blame”. This is a much more AOR-leaning song, still with a bite and is a representative mid-tempo rocker. The nearly a capella passage after Rif’s heated solo is a bit goosebump-inducing. It’s that good.

Still, no matter what Tango Down tries, the songs that stick out are the semi-burners like “Enlighten Me”, those riff-driven compositions that do harken back to a time when good music was played on the radio. With Reece’s blues-soaked vocal style, he just adds a weight to the music you’ve didn’t quite hear before in this band.

Speaking of not hearing something before, “Magic Pudding” is really heavy. This is Tango Down? Even in their own words, which they call ‘swamp rock blues Whitesnake style’ and their own ‘Crying in the Rain’, that barely goes far enough to define it. It’s a version of a Reece song recorded from before and it also might be the best track on the release… how often do albums end with the best track?

Tango Down has really surprised with “Identity Crisis”, an album still retaining the band’s melodic style but now attached to a phenomenal monster & rockin’ sound.

These songs are sonically majestic, with bite and full of fire. This is classic American Hard, the good one, the meaty and shining.

On top of those over-the-top vocal melodies during the choruses, Reece’s vocal mastery, and expert songwriting, the recording was once again skillfully produced by Erik Johnson and Ty Sims, who have their hand in production efforts in most of the aurally dynamic releases from Kivel Records over the past few years.

“Identity Crisis” is one of those albums you’ll have to stretch to find something you don’t like. Hell, even the cover art is spot on.

Killer.

01 – Crying To Me

02 – Alone

03 – Dream Child

04 – Blame

05 – Corners Of My Mind

06 – Enlighten Me

07 – Back To Life

08 – Hearts Catch Fire

09 – Calling Out

10 – Magic Pudding

David Reece – Vocals

Scott Rif Miller – Guitars

Chris Konys – Bass

Keith Michaels – Drums

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www.cdbaby.com/cd/tangodown2

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