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Implicitly Original, Utterly Recommendable - 79%

DeathRiderDoom, June 29th, 2009

This great little Best Of album is one of the most refreshing and unique NWOBHM records in my collection. Tredegar, formed by ex-Budgie members Phillips and Bourge, are unsurprisingly good, but their sound is so unique and at times, almost experimental, it adds a refreshing, distinct touch to the music which greatly enhances its replay-ability. Tredegar weren’t together too long, but managed to churn out some quality tunes during their short tenure. This album features all of their recorded material in a convenient little package which easily deserves a place on the shelf of any NWOBHM fans collection. Great NWOBHM here with an original, well-thought out, and polished sound. Many of the vocal duties are performed by guest members Trixie Thorne, Russ North and Carl Sentence, as Phillips himself may have found himself a stronger stickman than mic-wielder – and the vocals really are a highlight here.

Anyway, on this one, Tredegar alternates between great slower tracks like the progressive ‘The Alchemist’ and faster, more rockin’ numbers. ‘The Alchemist’ is a drawn out epic, making use of brilliant and luminous production and excellently crafted guitar leads and riffs. A stunning effort by Tony Bourge, this one even has some Iron Maiden sounding sections, and crosses the line at over seven minutes. Tredegar crafts a heartfelt ballad in the pensive ‘Which Way to Go’, which while slow in pace – doesn’t shed the trademark stellar guitar work by Bourge. At 5:52 this is another lengthy track Epic themes are tackled in tracks such as ‘The Battle of Bosworth’ and ‘Richard III’ – the former being a depressive, sad starting track, ringing similarity to Witchfinder General, before launching into a galloping, all-out Iron Maidenish assault on this War of the Roses themed epic. Truly British stuff here; Saxon and Bruce Dickinson would nod in approval.

Your more traditional hard rockers include ‘Dead to Rights’ – a pretty average number (saved by thrilling guitar domination, yet again), and the crunchy and aggressive rock n roll track ‘3:45 in the Morning’ – a decent enough effort with again, some very interesting, innovative guitar touches. (Vocals by Trixie Thorne). ‘Dirty’ is a hard hittin riff monster that packs a bit of punch, while featuring an extended slower section with the thrilling virtuosic guitar play of Bourge (truly one of NWOBHM’s greatest guitar players). Perhaps the most kickass faster track is the cut ‘Wheels’ which is arguably more simplistic than many of the others, but has a great chorus, and thundering riffs and drums. My favourite tracks on the album tend to be the less straightforward tracks, with more of the unique touches present. There’s plenty of odd experimentalism in tracks like 521453D, well contrasted to the traditional rockers.

What we get here is a great mix of hard rockin NWOBHM moments given added impetus by the progressive/innovative touches courtesy of masterminds Phillips and Bourge. The brilliant axemanship including plenty of shred moments (‘Love it or Hate it’ solo) do much to add to the flavor. The end result is a totally refreshing, impactful and distinctive album, which should impress just about everyone. There’s a lot of variety in the songs (particularly for a NWOBHM band), making for a very ear-catching listen. Great musicianship and a mix of different vocalists add more uniqueness to this one, with four or so vocalists being present, including several tracks with aforementioned female vocalist Trixie Thorne. In that true Welsh style, Tredegar crafts a distinctive sound setting them apart from the herd. This collection is utterly recommendable and probably ranks among my favorite NWOBHM releases – molding their earlier and later material well as one total package. Well worth forking out for – a great band with tons of originality.

-DeathRiderDoom