Tokyo Blade were originally part of the early-80s NWOBHM scene, before splitting in 1991, following several lineup changes. The mid-nineties saw an ephemeral reunion of the band, before reactivating once again around 2007. Although it wasnít until 2010 when guitarist Andy Boulton started to reassemble the bandís classic lineup, whereby drummer Steve Pierce, guitarist John Wiggins and bassist Andy Wrighton joined him once again for further Blade adventures. And then, last year, original vocalist Alan Marsh came back into the fold, thus completing a lineup that could now proudly boast of its hundred per cent true Blade authenticity, from those early days of the band.
To be honest, Iíve always been cynical of bands re-emerging so many years later, with perhaps only one or two original members on some kind of nostalgic kick, alongside several hired hands. However, it seems this is THE Tokyo Blade, and Boulton confidently asserts in press blurb that ĎUnbrokení is the bandís ďfinest albumĒ. To be honest, the NWOBHM scene came about during my pre-metal days, and Iíve never had the opportunity to check out any Tokyo Blade previously, so I canít vouch for this ďfinest albumĒ claim. However, I can quite confidently state that itís a fine trad-metal work. It seems the Blades do, indeed, remain ďunbrokenĒ.
Classic metal sounds and delights are, expectedly, abound throughout the album, but the songs are seemingly not Tokyo Blade merely wallowing in nostalgia, nor are they a pastiched retread of a style of music from a bygone era. ĎUnbrokení stands up in its own right as a twenty first century album that has both an air of authenticity of the period that gave birth to the band, and a bunch of musicians who are evidently still hungry for it, at least in terms of writing an accomplished set of tunes.
And thatís the key hereÖ the album feels as if itís all about the songs, rather than floundering aimlessly through desolate, self-indulgent nostalgia. Itís classic metal, for sure, but exercised within a sense of songcraft that isnít all about self-mimicry. At the same time, boundaries are certainly not being pushed on the album (well, maybe the bandís own are), but it still feels fresh in the sense of a twenty first century bandís own stylistic take on sounds of yore.
Performances are all top notch, too. Marsh has a fine set of pipes, and a ďclassicĒ voice thatís definitely more of the Biff Byford or Dave Hill variety than a histrionic Bruce Dickinson. Guitars, bass and drums also shine throughout. Production-wise, the album fares pretty well, too. Polished enough, but without being overly so, everything has been captured clearly and cleanly, and combined well in what is a great mix.
Iíd like to say this is a fine return for Tokyo Blade but, without a point of comparison with my lack of knowledge of their former music, thatís a judgement I cannot make. I can, however, inform you that this is a solid album, and one of the best Iíve heard from any of the reactivated NWOBHM bands in recent years.
Review by Mark Holmes
20th July 2018
1) Devil's Gonna Bring You Down
2) Bullet Made of Stone
3) Burn Down the Night
4) The Man in Black
5) No Time to Bleed
6) Dead Again
7) Bad Blood
8) Black Water
9) Stings Like an Open Wound
10) The Last Samurai
11) My Kind of Heaven
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the album feels as if itís all about the songs, rather than floundering aimlessly through desolate, self-indulgent nostalgia. Itís classic metal, for sure, but exercised within a sense of songcraft that isnít all about self-mimicry."