Tokyo Blade have been there, done that, and bought many a t-shirt in the 40-odd years they’ve been in existence. In true metal style, they’ve been through band members like a dose of salts but in recent times the line-up has become settled with members returning who were there in the early 80s and before.
Formed in Salisbury, UK, in the late 70s the band were initially called White Diamond but did not offer their first release until they were monikered Killer. The Demo EP was released in 1981 and for a first outing it is indeed a, er, killer. After Killer, which may not have been deemed threatening enough, came Genghis Khan and another EP. Double Dealin was released in 1983 but in that same year, the band finally settled on Tokyo Blade to take them forward. It was also at this time that Tokyo Blade took on their familiar Japanese stylization which remains to this day.
Their self-titled debut album of 1983 (busy year) and 1984’s follow-up, Night of the Blade are stone-cold New Wave of British Heavy Metal classics, and rightly so. The power, pace and skill held within these discs are a joy to behold.
Moving swiftly on to 2018 and the band had not released a full-length album of original material for seven years. With Andy Boulton (guitar), Steve Pierce (drums) and Alan Marsh (vocals) hailing from the band’s formation joined by John Wiggins (guitar) who landed in 1983 and Andy Wrighton (bass) who came along a year later this is no Jonny-come-lately outfit. These guys have history and it is noticeable.
So, what happened in 2018? Unbroken happened, that’s what. This great album was my second favorite of 2018. It is full of balls and brought Tokyo Blade right up to the present day.
The big question is could they follow up such a brilliant album with Dark Revolution?
The opening track, “Story of a Nobody” goes some way to answering that, with a song that could easily have fit snugly on Unbroken. In-your-face and hard as a rock it’s a fantastic track to kick off with.
“Burning Rain” follows a similar path, in terms of pace. The melodies are spot on and the vocals are on point. Alan Marsh has lost nothing in his voice which fits both the genre and band, a beautiful combination. I also love the soloing, not only on this track but throughout the album. Solos without uber-twiddling and which fit the song are my thing, and these are my thing.
The title track is next and has a sinister edge to it. Talk of being a “killing machine” and “I will stand beside you when you’re taking your last breath” gives a hint as to what the song is about.
The pace is maintained at pretty much the same level throughout which in any other hands could become wearisome but the change in song content and storytelling puts paid to that idea.
“The Fastest Gun in Town” tells its own tale and “The Truth Is a Hunter” is a cracking romp.
The winners keep coming thick and fast and “Crack in the Glass” is no different, it rocks big time and is so intense.
“Perfect Enemy”, does change the pace finally, and is a steadier and dare I say slightly funkier track. More AOR than metal. Once again the solo fits beautifully.
It’s back to bollock-kicking and “See You Down in Hell”. I’d buy this album just for the solos, God I love ‘em.
“The Lights of Soho” comes next and I’ve just about nodded my head off its axis after all these great tunes. A proper singalong, this track.
“Not Lay Down and Die” is clearly a call to arms and to never give up whatever gets thrown at you. I’ll raise a glass to that!
Finishing this belter of an album is “Voices of the Damned”. While it’s no barnstorming ending it does continue what began with “Story of a Nobody” and there’s been no drop in quality in between.
I’ll be honest here; after one listen I was worried that Dark Revolution was a bit ‘samey’. After five listens, it’s in my DNA and I absolutely love it, from track 1 to 11, from minute 1 to 56. Great, great work, guys.
Dark Revolution is out May 15 on Dissonance, so while you’re waiting check out the video below from 2018’s Unbroken album.
Also, find more of my CGCM reviews here: Sparky