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.


RingMaster 31/08/2013

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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

My Dying Bride – The Manuscript

My Dying Bride

UK doom alchemists My Dying Bride set themselves a major benchmark with their album A Map of All Our Failures last year, a release which took all the expected prime essences bred by the band across the years and that made fans of the Yorkshire quintet offer fervour driven support since their formation in 1990, and laid them onto a fresh rich new plateau. It was typical My Dying Bride but in a new pleasing stance which even set those of us who have more of a passing affair with their music to stop and take notice. The Manuscript is a four track EP which continues the presence established on the previous record and though it slips just below the high standards set it employs the new emotively carved impacting breath which emerged for another very appealing experience.

Released via Peaceville Records, The Manuscript is a potent imagery bearing quartet of tales seeded and reaped in tragedy, loss and bitter vengeance; gothic tales brought to bear with metallic intensity and melancholic shadow bred melodies. Each song strolls and prowls a well-worn, but not exhausted or diluted, premise of love, death, and all the emotions which make their bed within the two extremes. It is like most of their releases an offering which is easy to see why the band garner such devotion from fans even if personal fires lay no more than smouldering at best, and like the last record an encounter which has the ability to raise a few sparks even in less receptive appetites.

The title track rides in on a soulful blaze of guitar whilst bass and drums add their firm touch to the emerging presence, but it is the 578094_507496359312227_1503676395_ninstant lure of the vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe followed by the ever delicious emotive breath of the violin, Shaun MacGowan using the canvas set to paint a potent impassioned melancholic weave upon its surface, which seals the brewing recruitment to its premise. The heavy laden walk of the track consumes senses and thought, wrapping them in dense feelings for the guitars of Andrew Craighan and Hamish Glencross to seduce with their personal narrative and suggestively confronting riffs. The concussive approach of the drums certainly in cymbals and percussion does the song no favours to be honest, nor the release as a whole, but such the excellence at work around them it is a minor niggle especially when the song slips wonderfully into an elevated groove lined enterprise which reminds of the same heart recruiting, passion lighting anthemic temptation which veined the early work of the Skids, the slight Celtic whispers irresistible within the rhythmic snarl of drums and bass of Lena Abé. It is an explosive virulence which makes way for a gentle folk crafted climax for a little bit of disappointment despite its own personal beauty, such the quality and lure of what heralded its appearance.

The opener is impressive even though for our individual tastes it ebbs and flows a little, the song always richly satisfying but igniting moments of real seduction without retaining that hook throughout. The same happens with the following Var Gud Over Er, the immediate carnivorous attack of rapacious riffs and predatory bass calls gnawing and growling with thrilling ferocity whilst the guitars create a sonic weave to encapsulate the intensity. Across its even pace crawl though even with the enjoyable move from intimidating growls to a cleaner expressive delivery in the vocals, the track only provokes and invites a full ardour never quite getting its many appealing barbs in deep enough for a total persuasion. The track is an undeniably pleasing companion though which arguably does outstay it’s welcome at eight minutes plus of a relatively uniformal stance, but offers another great finale as it makes way for its successor A Pale Shroud of Longing.

The song loams large and tall over the ear with descriptive melodic fire from the guitar revealing itself beneath a wall of oppressive energy built by bass and drums which seizes any remaining attention and chains it to the brewing sonic embrace and the subsequent emotive beauty spawn again by MacGowan and his singing bow. It is a moment which sees tingles running their tiny fingers down thoughts and spine as the evolving intensity and weight of the song exploits with open craft and contagious imagination their persuasive touch. It is easily the best track on the EP, its haunting voice and feverish hunger within the again crawling ravenous passion and weight, an irresistible temptress which combined with the treacherous yet spellbinding tide of emotive darkness, leaves a big highlight.

The closing Only Tears to Replace Her With is very much like the second song on the EP, a track with moments which instil a lingering entrancement but never quite restrains their escape into enjoyable but uninspiring captures. The Manuscript is an excellent release for the main though and one fans of the band will devour with ferocity and be rewarded wholly for, whilst for others like us it may not light any fires but offers plenty to relieve happily again.


RingMaster 13/05/2013

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Cradle of Filth are set to release their new masterwork ‘The Manticore & other Horrors’ this Hallowe’en on Peaceville Records. They’ve now unleashed a track from the album for free download. You can get ‘For Your Vulgar Delectation’ here.

The title of Cradle Of Filth’s tenth studio full-length can be likened to a bestiary, a collection of stories on Monsters; personal demons, Chimeras, literary fiends and world-enslaving entities to blame but a few, Manticore being the ravening title track. It is a song about a beautiful mythological horror that comes to be feared as the disfigurehead of foreign occupation in the Indian provinces.

The songs Illicitus and Pallid Reflection bare the sweet ingredients of vampirism and lycanthropy; the wicked For Your Vulgar Delectation and Frost On her Pilloware woven perversely into grim fairytales, whilst classic, monumental tracks like The Abhorrent and Siding With The Titans both extol tentacular Lovecraftian values.

The album itself possesses an altogether new atmosphere for the band, incorporating a heavier, faster NWOBBM punk vibe that is both current and cruel, blended with ornate orchestration and the quirky immediateness of 2000’s Midian opus.

Recorded in eight  weeks at both Springvale and Grindstone studios (where it was also mixed by Scott Atkins), Suffolk, the album is testament to the longevity of The ‘Filth, as not only does it reek of Cradle’s (feared or revered) brand of delicious metal vamperotica, but this thoroughly modern album places the band firmly in fresh killing fields anew.

Singer Dani Filth had this to say on the new album:

‘This is our tenth commandment in metal. We have diversified and kept alive the spirit of this band and breathed it into something that I can proudly say, slays like an absolute motherf**ker. The Manticore is coming… Long live the filth!’
Cradle of Filth is also set to spread their darkness upon European lands with a tour throughout November & December.


Wed 19 Dec        UK                          London Forum