TOKYO BLADE: Knights Of The Blade: 4 Disc Box Set

tokyo-blade-box

Tokyo Blade originally formed in 1982, releasing their self-titled debut in 1983. They formed around guitarist Andy Boulton, he was joined on their debut by Alan Marsh on lead vocals, John Wiggins on guitar, Andy Robbins on bass and Steve Pierce on drums, making a significant impact on the burgeoning NWOBHM scene that had been popularized by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Def Leppard, as well as finding support in the pages of Kerrang! magazine. This release consists of a four Disc box set of their first three albums, many rare EPs, singles and non-album cuts from the early 1980s, including tracks from “The Cave Sessions”, “Undercover Honeymoon” 12”, “Midnight Rendezvous” EP and “Madame Guillotine” EP. Featuring lengthy and detailed liner notes from note NWOBHM and Tokyo Blade expert John Tucker

Tokyo Blade issued their debut recording in 1983, which was self-titled in the United Kingdom, and titled Midnight Rendezvous everywhere else. The album is classic metal with high-pitched vocals that aren’t too far into the stratosphere like some bands, they are a nice mix of highs and mid-level, the guitar rips throughout the album, the drumming is powerful, and the bass is heavy. The band really sounds like they were having a great time n the studio making this album, with youthful exuberance just dripping from the songs. The songs are catchy and should have been playing out of everyone’s speakers loud. I really liked “Powergame,” “Break The Chains, ” Killer City,” “Liar,” and “Sunrise In Tokyo.” For a first album, you don’t get much better than this.

The Night Of The Blade album arrived a year later, Andy Wrighton having replaced Robbins while Marsh had also left the band. The band was trying to find a new singer for their tour and got lucky with what was supposed to be the temporary throat of Vicki James Wright, but they decided to keep him as singer for the next album. His vocals were a bit more commercial sounding, but the songs were still hard and heavy. Again, the band played tight and really matured since their first album. Songs “Someone To Love,” “Night Of The Blade,” the killer “Rock Me To The Limit,” “Love Struck,” and the more commercial sounding “Lightning Strikes (Straight Through the Heart),” stand out after all of these years.

Blackhearts & Jaded Spades retains the power and singer from the previous album and sounds a bit more polished, but not wimpy. You could hear the band moving towards the huge American market with the added keyboards and more melody than on previous albums. Who can blame them? The market in America was something that pretty much every band wanted to break in and tour and be played on MTV during this period. The hard and heavy stuff was more on underground radio and bands knew where the money was; playing more melodic, adding a touch of keyboards and making the band more in tune with the big bands at the time like Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue. “Dirty Faced Angels,” “Make It Through The Night,” “Always,” are a trio of killer songs, “Loving You Is An Easy Thing To Do” is a blues based track that has a fantastic groove and should have been huge on the radio, “Undercover Honeymoon” gets things back a little heavier, then you get the power ballad “You Are The Heart,” which I could see being thrown in the mix at a high school dance back then, “Blackhearts And Jaded Spades,” “Tough Guys Tumble” get the hard rocking going again, until you come to another power ballad, “Dancing In Blue Moonlight,” which now starts to be a little much, and happily, they end the album with two blistering songs “Playroom Of Poison Dreams,” and “Monkeys Blood.” Not perfect, but still a great album that has more than enough metal to make you happy.

The fourth CD is a nineteen track collection of the band’s singles and EPs.  All of these songs were previously issued on the band’s various reissues, and it’s great to have them all together on a separate disc. This ably illustrates the musical evolution Tokyo Blade underwent from the start of the career, until their third album. Going from a harder sounding band to a more slick and commercial sound, while still retaining the great songs and playing that made you pick up the first album.

With the great liner notes, replica album sleeves and the fantastic music on the four discs, you really can’t go wrong with this purchase. The band definitely is on fire on these albums and even though they still are putting out albums now, the young, hard-edged sound of their hunger is a treasure to behold.

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DEEE-LITE: World Clique

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World Clique is the debut album by Deee-Lite, which was released in 1990. The album’s first single, “Groove Is In The Heart,” was a top-five success on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart as well as a number-one hit on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart. Three subsequent singles also hit the top ten on the U.S. dance chart, including “Power Of Love/Build That Bridge” and “Good Beat,” which also hit number one.

I remember hearing the song “Groove Is In The Heart” on the radio on day and wanted to get the single, the bad part is that because I lived in Canada, CD singles were not very popular. I was working at a record store at the time, a fairly large chain, but we barely carried CD singles, unless the company that I dealt with carried them, which of course they didn’t, so I went to another store downtown and managed to find it there, and played the hell out of it, both at home and in the store. We finally got the single and it sold out, both on CD and as a cassingle. When the album finally was released, it blew up in the store, people were coming in and we kept selling out. I loved it then, and I love it now, especially with the second CD of remixes and the great interview with Lady Miss Kier. Putting the album on takes me right back to when dance music was still grabbing everything they could find and seeing what works and using samples more freely than they can now. Starting with “Deee-Lite Theme” and the jazzy groove is an excellent way to start off. “Good Beat” is a fantastic song that has a great Italo-house piano and yes, a good beat. I used to mix “What Is Love?” into my DJ sets all of the time and it worked so well that people never knew who it was. “Deep Ending” was another song that I always hit the replay button for and it still makes me want to dance with the Italo-house piano and the sample from The The. Of course, “Groove Is In The Heart” is still a massive song and I just love it to death, always will. The second CD has all of the remixes and they mostly stay faithful to the original mix, adding more beats and giving you more to dance to. I was a fan of collecting as many of them as I could find and I’m glad to get them on CD now, and not worry about the pops and crackles from my old records.

The album is still amazing, the songs are great, what more could you want in a band? This really is a delightful (sorry) collection that you must get and dance, dance, dance!

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MATT CHANWAY: Self-titled

Coming from the death metal band Assimilation, Vancouver, BC’s Matt Chanway has his debut self-titled solo record out now that has hints of his day-job band in it. The one major difference between the two projects is that this solo album is all instrumental.

I will be honest, instrumental albums are far from my favorite things to listen to, mostly because I love hearing vocals, something to grab a hold of and keep my interest throughout, but with that said, I did still enjoy this album. This is a bit more in the progressive sound, but still straight up metal, no Pink Floyd noodling here, plus no guitar wankering like Malmsteen. Each track on here ranges from roughly six to eight minutes in length and has enough changes in the songs to keep things sounding fresh and interesting. The added drums (drum machine) and bass really help to keep things flowing and giving the album a depth and thickness. All of the playing is tight and extremely focused with the songs not going on for too long or becoming boring. You can hear the love of playing the guitar that emanates from the fingers of this extremely talented player with song after song of thrills and heavy shredding. I actually liked all the songs the same on this release, mostly because they were tight, heavy, interesting and energetic, and without a vocalist that sometimes can ruin a good album with weak or over-the-top histrionics.

Yes, I did enjoy an instrumental album, luckily the technicality wasn’t overbearing, the songs were engrossing, and the guitar was played with heart and pure talent. This is not an album just for shredders, it’s for anyone who wants an album of great metal that will get your head banging and wear your air guitar out.

Also posted on: http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/03/matt-chanway-self-titled.html

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STERILE JETS: No Gods No Loss

The band featuring singer/guitarist Robert Bly Moore, singer/bass player Wm. Partnoff and drummer GS Bean is a true democracy. They compose and arrange every song to bring out its best elements, delving deeply into punk, post rock, jazz and metal, with stimulating side trips into rockabilly, grunge and even pop. The noisy songs are very similar to what SST Records was putting out in the mid ’80s after they went away from straight punk rock and into more avant-garde music.

The songs are pure noise-filled hellions that challenge the listener with a complete lack of clarity and clean sounds, instead you get an album of intensity and insanity that nowadays is so refreshing since no one really does this anymore. You have touches of John Lydon, Cheech Marin doing his Alice Bowie character, and Jello Biafra in the singing with the inflections that are sometimes all in the same song. The anger and bitterness are like a kick in the groin throughout and really adds to the filthiness of the mix. “Piss On Your God” is a swirling tempest that grabs you and won’t let you go, not that you would want it to because it’s one hell of a ride and one of the greatest songs on here. The playing is sloppy, the vocals are crazed, noise, noise, noise, and the band playing like they are trying to destroy their instruments just make for a debauched and amazing journey.

Put this album on and piss off your family, open your windows and piss off the neighbors, but you will love every second of it, both the music and making people crazy. This kids is what punk rock was blending with back in the old days and very few managed to get it as right as these guys do.

Also posted on: https://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/04/sterile-jets-no-gods-no-loss.html

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THE LONG DARK ROAD: Self-titled

Influenced by Deafheaven, The Long Dark Road’s four-song self-titled EP is the result of a series of events in Toronto musician Jeremy Cavan’s life, including debt, homelessness, and a divorce. The mix of black metal, punk and hardcore on this album gives into a touch of prog-type songs, at least in length with the title track alone surpassing the ten minute mark, and the shortest track is just shy of seven minutes long.

The lyrics are more geared toward political and societal topics than most metal bands and luckily even with the gruff and occasionally less than clean singing, you can still hear the words and see the anger and disgust that is being spit out. The songs are as heavy as the weight of the world’s problems on their shoulders, but melodic and interesting, with the length of them not being a factor that impedes your enjoyment, in fact, the length seems perfect for each song, like a complete argument that needs to be heard. The mix is a bit dirty and gritty, but it suits the music and tone perfectly; who wants it all prettied up since it would take the intensity and immediacy of it away. The songs each have their own feel and have shredding guitar playing that really stands out, as well as the extended bits that show the more textured playing and at times softer sounds that the band can create and meld into a song that is both devastating and thrilling.

If you are looking for some straight-ahead metal, this may come as a shock, but the album has both beauty and anger that forge an alliance and make you want to come back to it time and time again. With only four songs, they have created an album that will become a constant player in your collection, and make you want to see what comes next.

Also posted on: http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-long-dark-road-long-dark-road.html

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The PSYATICS: Famous Monsters

The Psyatics are a three-piece garage, surf and noise band from Las Vegas, Nevada. Formed in 2012, the current lineup consists of Rob Bell (bass guitar and vocals), Jack Ball (guitar) and Mark Baertschi (drums). The band plays a mix of Rock, Punk, Garage, Noise, and Surf Rock with feeling.

With a glance at the cover, and the titles of the songs, you can see that they have a fascination for the more overt strangeness that other bands skip over: monsters, serial killers and B-movies, and for that alone, I salute them. The band mixes up all the different styles and comes up with a sound that takes your head and wraps it in craziness and power that should hurt, but feels like the hot breath of the werewolf breathing on your neck, scary and raises the hair on your body with excitement. The songs are catchy, and play with an intensity that is infectious and will get you dancing, or at least jumping around, either way, you will not be able to stand still while listening to this album. “You Killed Me First” has a great mix of funk and Two-tone ska that I really dug. “Burnt Offerings” has a great surf sound with manic vocals that really stuck with me. The songs are played with rawness and without a tongue in cheek sense of humor that makes them sound more convincing. The band isn’t a joke band, they really do like these twisted and strange things and give them the respect and love that makes for repeated listens. The band has a rawness to them that makes the album sound dangerous and creepy, but still has the ability to make you an instant fan.

Their third album is a definite anomaly in the music world nowadays, not easy to pigeon-hole and filled with more giddy strangeness than you would think most people would want to perform, but these guys love it and it shows with every lick played. The band has hit one out of the park with this album and it isn’t a baseball, it’s a severed head.

Also posted on: https://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-psyatics-famous-monsters.html

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VERENA VON HORSTEN: Alien Angel Super Death

This is the second solo album by artist Verena von Horsten from Zurich, Switzerland. It was written, produced and recorded by herself in New York and Zurich. This album is a moving and sentimental tribute to her late brother who committed suicide four years ago. The songs on the album, explore the haunting journey of despair she embarked on as she struggled to understand why her brother felt like the only option he had left was to end his own life, and the way the world treats suicide.

The album has been called “synth-pop,” but there is no “pop” here, it’s more along the lines of “synth rock” because of the edginess of it and the topic of the album. She has also been compared to Bjork and PJ Harvey, but she isn’t like them at all, except that they are all females that sing, instead let’s not lump her into a group of singers, let’s take her at face value; a singer that has an amazing voice and raw talent that stands out as soon as you start to listen to the album. Song after song is chock full of emotion that grabs your ears as well as your heart knowing the tragic way this album came to be. The songs are catchy, tightly played and infectious, something that can be played over and over again and never get boring. She has a voice that goes from being almost operatic and hitting high notes to sounding melancholy and heart-wrenching, but still beautiful. The over eight minute long “Sakrament der Büffelherde” is an amazing song that has a fantastic beat, astounding vocals and seems so much shorter than is listed. This is a song that will get stuck in my head and be played repeatedly. The production is clear, but keeps the rawness of her emotions in full view, and everything just falls into place.

As a person who has also dealt with suicide in my family, I can relate to the bleakness of it all, as well as the fight to overcome those feelings and the pain. Von Horsten has come a long way to figuring things out and has given the public something beautiful to help make sense out of the chaos of it all.

Also posted on: http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/03/verena-von-horsten-alien-angel-super.html

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