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Originally emerging at the height of the thrash boom back in 1988, Yorkshire's Toranaga achieved ephemeral recognition and fame within the metal community when they landed a major label deal on Chrysalis for the release of their second full-length record, 'God's Gift', just two years after their formation. I have fond memories of said album and what it brought to the thrash genre with its distinct British twang through skilfully crafted cuts such as 'Hammer to the Skull', 'The Shrine' and 'Sword of Damocles'. However, unable to capitalise on this success and prematurely ending what seemed to be a promising career ahead, the band split shortly thereafter. Skip forward nearly twenty years and original members Andy Burton (bass), Steve Todd (drums) and Mark Duffy (vocals) reconvened to jam some of the old tunes in 2010 with a view to write and record the third album that never was. Guitarist Andy Mitchell was unable to participate in the reunion as he now resides Down Under although John Rodgers and Shane Haigh were recruited as axemen. And here we have Toranaga's brand new offering in the form of 'Righteous Retribution'.

It's fair to say I was a little dubious as to what Burton & co. would be capable of producing in 2013. Nostalgic sentiments through reforming to bash out the old tracks is a whole different ball game to actually making new music worthy of the Toranaga name - particularly so long after disbanding. Surely they couldn't make another album to rival the might of 'God's Gift' after so many years have passed. Surely not. Wrong. And, by fuck, I was wrong to be dubious. Not only have the guys succeeded in creating a retro-thrash masterpiece of epic proportions, but they've simultaneously managed to recapture the Toranaga spirit of yore. Time has been kind to Duffy's voice - his semi-snarled delivery sounds every bit effective as it was over two decades previously. The rhythm pairing of Burton and Todd is solid, efficacious and still relevant for the band's distinct thrash aesthetic, and guitarists Rodgers and Haigh are a real coup as, reassuringly, they're stylistically reminiscent of Mitchell's fretboard work. Mixing down, mid, and up-tempo metal meanderings over the course of twelve tracks, 'Righteous Retribution' is a varied listen rather than succumbing to clichéd thrash traits. But that was what was always refreshing about Toranaga anyway. Sure, there are bursts of the thrash genre's staple palm-muted riffage throughout but mixed up with passages of doom, groove and some slickly executed twin-guitar harmonies and leads. And, as with 'God's Gift', Toranaga have somehow, once again, managed to inject their music with a pervasive atmosphere that's so often lacking from many modern (and established) thrash bands more 'clinical' offerings. It's great to have 'em back. Let's hope they're here to stay for a while.
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd Sept 2013
1) Portam Ad Infernum
2) Traitors Gate
3) Cynical Eyes
4) The Ultimate Act of Betrayal
5) I Must Destroy
6) Return of the Gods
7) The Beginning of the End
8) Prove Me Wrong
9) Something Evil
10) Battle Cry
11) Rise from the Flames; 12) I Play God
"Not only have the guys succeeded in creating a retro-thrash masterpiece of epic proportions, but they've simultaneously managed to recapture the Toranaga spirit of yore."