Saturday 22 January 2022

Tokyo Blade - Fury (2022)

Country: UK
Style: Heavy Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 21 Jan 2022
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Anyone who remembers Tokyo Blade fondly from the eighties is likely to remember two things of note. One is that, every time the sun came up, their line-up had changed and the other is that any change in the popular style du jour meant a change in Tokyo Blade's sound. That meant that they recorded some fantastic material—I still adore the entire Night of the Blade album, as well as the Friday Rock Show session recorded at that time—but they had little consistency so every fan they attracted tended to vanish with the next stylistic shift.

I'm incredibly happy to see this album underline how those times are firmly relegated to the past. This is their third album in five years, each featuring the exact same line-up and a consistent style that arguably ought to have been what they should have played throughout: classic British heavy metal. Sure, I'd like a little more speed—especially for an album named Fury—but I ain't bitchin'. I'm happy to see albums, overjoyed to see consistent albums and ecstatic to see albums this damn good. They're becoming the gift that keeps on giving.

As always, my focal point is the twin guitars of Andy Boulton and John Wiggins, because I love the riffs they conjure up and I love how they play off each other. Every song here, even the ones that I wouldn't call filler but wouldn't be particularly notable by their absence, features a strong riff or six and at least one decent solo, often an excellent one or a couple traded between them. There's a lot of music here to choose from, but I think my favourite on this front is Life Leaves a Scar, which is gloriously tight in the Iron Maiden tradition. I love the changes in this one and the progressions in the midsection and towards the end.

It's easy to conjure up favourites but often they'll come not from riffs or solos but the grooves the songs find. As with the previous two albums, this sounds good on a first time through but it grows on repeat listens, because many of these songs start to really get under our skin. The first song to nail its groove here is the second, Blood Red Night, but there are plenty to choose from, including Static and Life Leaves a Scar again. Every time through, I add another couple to that list.

While I mentioned Iron Maiden on Life Leaves a Scar, I should highlight that I didn't catch obvious influences here that often. The band have their mentors and stylistic go tos, of course, and they're still obviously a product of the NWOBHM, but I feel that, with each new album, they firm up their own sound just a little more, to the degree that it's harder to hear a particular song and think of a particular influence. It still happens on occasion, because I couldn't not hear Thin Lizzy on Eyes Wired Shut and Rhythm of the Gun, for instance, but I felt more immersed in this modern Tokyo Blade sound than ever.

And, with almost eighty minutes of music here, it's easy to become immersed. Yeah, it's a longer album than it should be, but it would take a debate to figure out which songs could be dropped to tighten it up. There is no obvious candidate for the chop. Every time I thought there might be, it promptly elevated itself with a memorable riff or something else notable. I didn't think much of Nailbomb for a while, but then it turned into one of my favourites. And the highlights elevate too, Cold Light of Day going full on epic with some neat orchestral backing and John Wiggins gifted in Message on the Wall with plenty of opportunities for his bass to shine.

I'm breaking a trend, but I think I have to give this a 7/10. That's still recommended but I feel that this is a little weaker than the previous two albums. It's not far behind the others and there are a few great songs here. Its key problem is an overly generous length because, while this is certainly a good eighty minute album, it would have been a great fifty or sixty minute album. The last pair notably ran right between those two thresholds and this probably should have done too. But hey, no big deal. It's good stuff and I'm eager to see the fourth modern Tokyo Blade album in 2024.

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