Toranaga: Righteous Retribution

Toranaga Online Promo Shot

Twenty three years after their debut album, UK thrashers Toranaga have returned from a long absence with a new album and what a thunderous storm of a release it is. Many bands return after a long time away and struggle to find that essence which lit up their initial presence or to write tracks which have the same intensity and potency which marked them in the first place. There is no fear with this Yorkshire quintet as Righteous Retribution goes straight for the jugular chewing up the listener with slabs of muscular threat as aggressive and lethal as anything the band has carved before.

Formed in 1988 by bassist Andy Burton, vocalist Mark Duffy, drummer Steve Todd, and guitarist Andy Mitchell, Toranaga made an immediate impression with their debut album Bastard Ballads, the Peaceville Records released provocateur earning strong responses and leading to the band extensively gigging across the UK. It also drew in strong radio play with the likes of Tommy Vance on the BBC Rock Show and sparked an invitation to open up for Manowar on their UK tour. Snapped up soon after by Chrysalis Records, the band released second album God’s Gift in the spring of 1990 which was covered in even greater acclaim.  Tours and shows with the likes of Sabbat, Venom, Saxon, Metal Church, Uriah Heep and Annihilator followed as the stature of the band rose, though sadly their record label was one which did not offer the support the band needed to progress and develop which led to their departure from it the following year. From here internal conflict made its presence known within Toranaga and not long after the band called it a day.

Then in 2010 though Burton got in touch with Todd and Duffy about writing new songs together as Toranaga. With positive feedback theToranaga Cover Artwork trio came together and set about searching for a guitarist to replace Mitchell who had emigrated to Australia in 2006. With a line-up completed by Shane Haigh and John Rodgers the band set forth into a studio to record Righteous Retribution with Mik Crone. Eighteen months in creation, Righteous Retribution makes up for those absent years of the band with an instant forearm smash between the eyes with the first full storm after the opening introduction Portam AD Infernum. As it ravages the senses it is as if the band has never been away but equally sets them up as a new and still refreshing weapon for thrash/heavy metal. The self-released tempest moves through the evocative introduction seemingly eager to unleash its sinews which within seconds of the following Traitors Gate it does and in rapacious style. Riffs are helping themselves to submission with their voracious and heavy provocation whilst the rhythms of Todd punch and jab like a heavyweight moving swiftly with rapid rabidity. Duffy maybe surprisingly, soon shows he has not lost any of his strength and animosity, his vocal attack welcoming and grizzled, infectious and gnarly. The track has a definite Metallica/Exodus like breath which arguably was expected but equally the track stomps across the passions with a hunger and contagion which is pure Toranaga.

The outstanding start is instantly backed up by the scintillating Cynical Eyes, the song another savage but anthemic lure which commands feet, voice, and emotions. Jagged riffs and the perpetually predacious basslines frame the snarling vocal squalls whilst a carnivorous emerging waspish groove wraps teasingly around the rhythmic veining. Thrash at its most compulsive and vengeful, the track is a massive highlight of not only the album but the year, certainly in its chosen breed of genre. Both songs are so potent and dynamic that it leaves the remaining songs almost too much to emulate but boy do they do their very best.

Both The Ultimate Act Of Betrayal and I Must Destroy reap the rewards of a rigorous hunger spawned by their predecessors, the first springing from a slow and evocative intro to launch a tirade of twisted riffs and exhausting rhythms ridden by the continuing to impress vocals of Duffy and band, whilst the second grows from a crawling start into a stalking of the ear with predatory riffs guided by an incendiary groove sculpting a trap for the passions which is sprung by excellent breaks and sonic stabs as well as the scorching guitar enterprise. The pair reinforces the epic start with craft and guile, whilst the following Return Of The Gods with its almost stoner like tease and acidic grooves lays down another rung on the climb to ardour being built by the album.

As well as unleashing riveting heart capturing sounds Toranaga ensure diversity and imagination is present in strength too, The Beginning Of The End igniting yet another blaze of invention and variety with a groove metal hue to its classic metal suggestiveness as it wraps melodic and expressive weaves of hot guitar intrigue around the again crisply commanding rhythms and vocals. Adrenaline rushes through the veins of Prove Me Wrong like boiling blood next, its life force thrusting the song into a high octane fuelled temptation with rich heavy metal antagonism whilst the seductive Judas Priest whispering Something Evil and the primal almost bestial Battle Cry with excellent guttural growls adding their black menace to the barbarous confrontation, only cement the large spread of sound and ideas upon the album.

Finished by the magnetic Rise From The Flames and the outstanding I Play God with its persistent grinding probing and deliberately intensive intimidation, Righteous Retribution is a masterful and thoroughly thrilling encounter. Easily one of our favourite releases this year, Toranaga show that they have not only returned as strong as before but have found something extra to give current bands  a real run for their money.

http://www.facebook.com/ToranagaUK

http://www.toranagauk.com/

9/10

RingMaster 31/08/2013

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BRIT METAL MANIACS TORANAGA RETURN TO RELEASE BRAND NEW ALBUM!

Toranaga Online Promo Shot
High Rated Yorkshire riff-slingers ‘Toranaga’ are back with their ferocious new full length album ‘Righteous Retribution’ available through all digital outlets on Monday 2nd September. Look out for tour dates, soon to be announced!
 
‘Toranaga’ were originally formed back in 1988 by Andy Burton (bass), Steve Todd (drums), Mark Duffy (vocals), and Andy Mitchell on guitar. The four piece released their debut album “Bastard Ballads” through independent label Peaceville Records and widespread national reviews and extensive gigging soon followed. The band then played a session for the legendary Tommy Vance on BBC Rock Show, and were invited to open for metal giants Manowar on their UK tour. Soon after Toranaga were snapped up by Chrysalis Records.

The band released their major label debut album ‘God’s Gift’ in the spring of 1990, and again notched up critical acclaim and video airplay with MTV Headbangers Ball and Raw Magazine’s Heavy Metal Channel. Extensive touring throughout the UK and Europe soon followed with the likes of Sabbat, Venom, Saxon, Manowar, Metal Church, Uriah Heep and Annihilator. Regrettably though, the band were not given the chance to develop and grow with Chrysalis, so they parted company at the end of 1991. Internal conflict within the band followed and Andy Burton and Mark Duffy decided to leave the camp and Toranaga disbanded.

However in 2010, Andy Burton decided to pick up the bass again and contacted founding member Steve Todd and Mark Duffy about playing some of the old Toranaga songs, as well as writing and recording new material. With original guitarist Andy Mitchell emigrating to Australia, the band widely auditioned for new guitarists. Shane Haigh and John Rodgers stepped into the fold and have more than filled the void. The chemistry, drive, ambition and friendship is now fully back within the band.

With a renewed vigour and focus, Toranaga marched into the studio to record with Mik Crone at the helm. After eighteen months in the making, the band completed their brand new album, entitled ‘Righteous Retribution’. Twelve songs of colossal heavy metal brilliance flaunting whiplash guitar riffs, commanding vocal lines, and a ballsy rhythm section fill every crevice of the record. The album hits you full force and instantly hammers out frantic drumming and hi-octane powerful riffs to maximum effect. From the mighty ‘Cynical Eyes’ (which is set to be the band’s new video single) to the stomping bite of ‘Prove Me Wrong’ and the engrossing ‘I Play God’, it’s evident that time has only sharpened the band’s creative powers, as they have produced a blistering slice of metal. Now, with no major label to hinder their spark, Toranaga will rise!
Toranaga Cover Artwork

Empires Of Eden: Channelling The Infinite

Up front it has to be said I am not the right person to be reviewing Channelling The Infinite from Empires Of Eden with power metal and the vocal style each and every track employs leaving more urges of irritation than tingles of pleasure. This should be remembered as you read ahead and gauge the comments by your own levels of joy found in the genre. Despite this immediate personal emotion before the album had a chance to prove itself there were times the release simply blew great big satisfying holes in the preconceived feelings though admittedly there were times it concreted them totally. For anyone taking deep pleasure from the genre and eighties classic metal Channelling The Infinite is simply an essential release, from the impressive music and the array of some of the finest power metal vocalists within it is an immense feast of quality and skill.

The album is the third from Empires Of Eden and follows previous ideas in its structure. Created and orchestrated by Australian shredding maestro Stu Marshall (ex-Dungeon), the album once more features songs where he has carefully crafted their music and heart specifically to suit the chosen vocalist involved. He has tailored the songs to compliment and best fit the individual ranges and styles and no matter the personal appreciation of the sounds it cannot be denied how perfectly and precisely he has achieved his aim.

Musically the album invariably hits the mark each and every time bringing a majestic blend of shredding expertise and melodic metal in diverse and appetising shapes. Whether thrashing the senses with an intense energy or scorching them with finely conjured melodic sparks the skill and passion is unmissable. The concept behind the album ensures it is never predictable and intrigues from one track to the next, the variety of sounds and vocalists making the album a continually evolving beast. That diversity also makes it a little inconsistent too though again it depends on individual tastes more than the imaginative sounds.

The album opens with immediately epic sounding Cry Out featuring Rob Rock (Impellitteri, Driver). The track is a driving slice of feisty melodic metal, its energy as persuasive to the ear as the excellent guitar play surging throughout. It is a mighty start which led to hopes of more of the same throughout. Musically it does pretty much deliver but vocally it shuffles the senses and emotions between impressed to real uncertainty as with second song Hammer Down. The track flexes its muscles and stares down the ear with menace and indisputable power but the ear scraping vocals of Udo Dirkschneider just left the heart cold. Yes he is a god to many but they just did not do justice to the music and excellent solo beside him.

The album has some true peaks but also less lofty but still enjoyable tracks as in the likes of This Time  Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper, Lionsheart), Cyborg with Carlos Zema (Outworld, Vougan), and World on Fire featuring Louie Gorgievksi of Crimsonfire. None of the tracks on the album can be weak and most will be blistering treasures for real fans of the genre each an expanse of multi flavoured creativity and imagination.

The major highlights of the album come in a triple dose of simply astounding ingenuity. Firstly the best and title track on the album simply sets the heart aflame. It begins with an emotive coarse symphonic beckoning come disturbance for the ear. Its intensity is ominous enveloping the senses in a thick passion before twisting into a rampaging scourge of melodic invention and irresistible spiteful riffage. With equally immense vocals from Sean Peck of Cage the track leaves one breathless and riled up.

It is instantly followed by Lions For Lambs, a warm and pulsating song which lights up the corners darkened by its predecessor. Marshall is stunning in his play, his guitar licking at the senses like flames whilst vocalist Alessandro Del Vecchio of Edge of Forever brings every emotion he can muster to soak each and every word. The third of the striking songs is Born A King. From a truly dramatic opening it soon turns into an insatiable and rampant flood of eager riffs and thoughtful melodic insertions. With arguably the best vocal contribution on the album from Danny Cecati (Eyefear, Pegazus), the track is a sensational pleasure.

Though from personal preference Channelling The Infinite will not find a regular home here there are certain songs which will find a regular reprise. With vocals offerings also from Mike Dimeo (Masterplan, Riot), Vo Simpson (Darker Half), and Ronny Munroe (TSO, Metal Church) the album though is something power metal enthusiasts will truly lap up. With the new album Stu Marshall and Empires Of Eden continue from previous releases just he has made it bigger, grander, and even more impressive.

www.empiresofeden.com

RingMaster 01/06/2012

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