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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White Clouds And Gunfire – For All The Non Believers

White Clouds & Gunfire Online Promo Shot

For those looking for some fresh melodic rock with pop punk overtones heading over to For All The Non Believers, the debut album from UK band White Clouds And Gunfire, would be a definite recommendation. Comprised of eight extremely well crafted and impressively presented songs from musicians which undoubtedly knows how create flavoursome melodies, the release makes a richly promising wider introduction of a band which has already been making ripples ensuring that the album’s appearance September 2nd has for a great many been eagerly awaited.

Formed in 2009, the Peterborough band went through a time of line-up instability during its first eighteen months or so before finding a steady plateau to build upon late 2011. Subsequent support slots and the sharing of stages with bands such as We Are Fiction, Mallory Knox, Army Of Freshmen, Sonic Boom Six, OPM, MC Lars, and The Hype Theory have increased the stature and reputation of White Clouds & Gunfire whilst their first EP, Zero To Hero was home to acclaim from the underground through to the likes of Rocksound and Big Cheese. Now the quintet of vocalist Eveline Verdegaal, guitarists/vocalists Byron Marr and Alex Cox, bassist/vocalist Rob Woods, and drummer Lewis Fountain, stand poised to make a major impression and statement with For All The Non Believers.

From the first minute of opener Bruised Not Broken you have a full declaration of what you are getting from the band, impressively White Clouds & Gunfire Cover Artworkwritten and presented songs with a more than loud whisper of Paramore about them. There are many other names you could place before them but the American band is the loudest call for sure, though White Clouds And Gunfire does suggest that in their armoury the band has the means and invention to create something more unique ahead. Starting with evocative keys leading into a vibrant and energetic start, the song takes little time in bringing feet and senses alive, the outstanding vocals of Verdegaal backed well by other members of the band, instantly magnetic whilst the guitars of Marr and Cox paint a provocative narrative around the driving drums and roaming bass lines. Harmonies also soar throughout the track to open up strong hunger for the release and help make it a rather impressive start to the album.

Same Old Town and You Can’t Bring Me Down continue the strong beginning, the first of the pair offering a reminder of eighties band The Photos at times as it strolls melodically and energetically through the ear. Again the vocals stand out whilst the guitars flame and dance with imaginative poise to spark the appetite further whilst its successor brings a more anthemic breath to its persuasion with the rhythms of Fountain alongside the pressing intensity of Woods creating a commanding and potent cage for the rest of the band to flourish within.

The exciting riot of drums which opens up next track Poison immediately has lips licked though in some ways the full expansion of the song is underwhelming in comparison, though still another well-defined and warm romp which is as emotive and tender as it is frenetic and greedy for attention. As ever the vocals steer the ship magnificently and the drums crash through defences with skill and predaciousness but equally at this point on the album you realise there is a familiarity and similarity across the release which is louder than the individual traits of songs. It means a deep focus to truly pick out those singular attributes is often needed though in many ways not a major issue on this release  such the quality of the songs and their temptation but certainly it  might be an issue ahead. The promise bred by the album and the already open creativity and skill of the band suggests this uniqueness will organically evolve, though time as always will tell.

The best songs on the release step up side by side next starting with Pebbles. With an excellent effected start the track gains pace by the second until exploding into a full on punk pop tease with a simultaneous snarl and melodic elegance. Finding a gentler though still rowdy presence, thanks to the again crispy powerful drums, the guitars weave a sonic maze of enterprise around Verdegaal, their flames licking at the walls of the song with invention and riveting adventure. It is probably fair to say the track is again close to the songs before but it has that indefinable something which lifts it above the others and into the passions. Reflection too has that extra element setting it apart, Verdegaal simply enthralling and the guitars poetic in their melodic fire whilst the keys and the stronger and lengthier male vocal contribution are an inspired touch setting the track as the pinnacle of the album and debatably the first to truly stand out.

Dreams and Since You Were Gone complete the album with both in full control of attention and limbs. The first holds a thumping attitude and creative swagger with the bass of Woods finding a new and its finest voice on the release. The track in full stride offers an irresistible hungry stomp which leaves lungs breathless whilst its companion makes a fiery finish with gang shouts and melodic drizzles of entrancing colour which help add that ear catching element all great songs have.

For All The Non Believers is a thrilling and extremely satisfying album from a band which has a massive future awaiting them if they want to seize it. Admittedly it lacks that killer song which lingers and shapes your heart and as mentioned the band still has not that distinctive presence to ensure they stay in thoughts away from view, but White Clouds & Gunfire write and create songs which you cannot dismiss such their passion, imagination, and expertise, and that can take them a long way. Watch this space is our suggestion…

www.facebook.com/wcagf

8.5/10

RingMaster 31/08/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com