Album review: TOKYO BLADE – Fury

Dissonance/Cherry Red [Release date: 21.01.22]

It’s interesting to note that Tokyo Blade’s current members, including guitarist Andy Boulton and vocalist Alan Marsh, were with the band almost from the beginning, but left and rejoined at various intervals since the band’s inception in 1982.

What comes around…

They are another band who have bought into the lockdown cliché, in that they claim to have used it to refine their craft and subsequently to write and record new material.

Then, listening to Fury, the band’s 10th album, it’s clear that the cliché has taken on new life, and that the band should lockdown more often.

30 to 40 years on, the heads down, pedal-to-the-metal mindset of NWOBHM has ultimately been replaced by a heads up, informed view of the turmoil surrounding us, politically and economically.

15 songs here: focused, self aware heavy metal, each track cutting its own path through a post NWOBHM soundscape that has virtually been usurped and disappeared by the rise of European Power Metal.

Maybe highly melodic polemics like ‘Blood Red Sky’ and ‘When The Bullets Fly’, two songs that take a lightfooted musical journey through heavy metal territory, despite the abrasive lyrics, are a natural pushback against Power Metal excesses. There’s an underlying dissonance in these songs that anchors them to the genre’s industrial roots, if further proof were needed.

A distinct Thin Lizzy feel to the guitar tones and harmonics on ‘Heart Of Darkness’ and to a lesser extent, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ are surprise moments. But the body of each song is remarkably lean, clean and confident, reprising the twin guitar metal of the ‘Blade’s past, with the narratives exploring the cultural revisionism that is rife in today’s media.

Putting the brooding lyrics to oneside, the album packs in a number of truly outstanding heavy metal songs, with the slower paced yet eminently anthemic ‘Cold Light Of Day’, and ‘We All Fall Down’, full of slick guitar gearshifts and galloping rhythms, being absolute standouts. While elsewhere ‘Man In A Box’ and ‘Disposable Me’ lock into a glammy, heavy metal groove.

All in all, it’s an hour and 20 minutes of prime Tokyo Blade. They’re grappling with weighty themes at times. But at least we listeners emerge as the winners. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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