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Tokyo Blade

Knights of the Blade

Review by Gary Hill

This new four CD box set is a great way for people to get a quick education on the music of Tokyo Blade. These guys were a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. I think they are just as good as some of the bands who had a greater degree of success. This box set features three full albums and a collection of singles and EPs. There is a great book and the individual CDs have sleeves with the original covers.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One: Tokyo Blade

               
Powergame

I love the screaming guitar that opens this. They fire out from there into some furious old school metal. The vocals are pretty typical NWOBHM, but among the better of that genre.

Break the Chains
Another screamer, I love the riffing that drives this. The chorus hook on this is definitely catchier than the opener. The non-lyrical vocal section calls to mind Iron Maiden. The guitar soloing on this number is exceptional, too. These guys really rock.
If Heaven Is Hell
There is a cool acoustic guitar intro on this. They power out from there into a stomping metal tune that makes me think of Scorpions quite a bit. Again, the guitar soloing really stands tall, but this whole song is great. The cool melodic segment leading into the late track instrumental section is particularly noteworthy, as is that instrumental section.
On Through the Night
Although this is still screaming hot, it's not as effective as the last few pieces. It just feels a bit rough around the edges and slightly awkward. I love the back and forth soloing on the instrumental section later in the track, though. It makes me think of Judas Priest a bit.
Killer City
Although I'm not enthused about all of the vocals on this, the cut has some exceptionally effective instrumental work. The extended instrumental section mid-track is really a big part of that. There is some powerhouse guitar soloing on it, but the killer bass work stands out, too. It makes me think of Steve Harris a bit.
Liar

Another smoking hot metal tune, the chorus on this even has a bit of a glam rock vibe to it. That said, this is not glam metal, but rather real steel. The cut is an effective piece of music, but perhaps not as strong as some of the others.

Tonight

Another cool NWOBHM styled power metal tune, this isn't a big surprise or change, but it is solid. I really dig the guitar soloing on this cut.

Sunrise in Tokyo

This one stomps out with power and style. It's not all that different, but the vocal arrangement on this works better than on some of the rest. It's a rather catchy cut.

Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Although this doesn't say on the packaging that it's a bonus track, it's not listed on the replica cover of the actual album. For that reason, I'm guessing that it is a bonus track. It's a goofy little old-fashioned music tune. It's just piano and voices. It's obviously tongue-in-cheek.

Disc Two: Night of the Blade
               

Someone to Love

This isn't a shocker, but it's meaty. It has a great NWOBHM mid-tempo sound.

Night of the Blade

I am definitely reminded of Iron Maiden on this screaming hot tune. The slower section is a really magical powerhouse. It's still Maidenesque, but really ups the "wow" factor. They come out of that into a smoking hot jam that carries on the musical leanings, but intensifies it. This is such a strong cut.

Rock Me to the Limit

More mainstream metal based, I can hear some WASP type music in this. The chorus is catchy and the riffs are meaty.

Warrior of the Rising Sun

The bass on this definitely makes me think of Iron Maiden. The cut powers in with hard edged, rocking metal. They drop it back to mellower stuff for the verse. This number is quite dynamic with more hard rocking stuff returning later.

Unleash the Beast

Another that makes me think of Iron Maiden a bit, this is high energy metal that just plain rocks. It's not anything fancy, but just works really well. I love the bass work on this.

Lovestruck
The rhythm section opens this, and I love the bass sound. Guitar joins, and we're off into another killer rocking tune. This is another powerhouse metal stomper that is really effective.
Dead of the Night

Guitar solos over the top of a cool backdrop as this cut opens. It drops back a bit for the vocals. There is almost a bit of a psychedelic element to this tune. It has a good balance between mellower and more rocking sections. The guitar solo segment on this really screams.

Lightning Strikes (Straight Through the Heart)

More of a mainstream metal sound is the basis of this. It's another that makes me think of WASP just a bit. The chorus is catchy and quite strong.

Disc Three - Black Hearts & Jaded Spades
             

Dirty Faced Angels

Powering in fierce and Maiden-like, this turns to more of a straight-ahead metal stomper. It is definitely classy stuff.

Make It Thought the Night
This comes in mellow and quite dramatic. The first few vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. Then it powers out to some screaming hot metal. I love this song. It is literally a screamer. It's also quite catchy.
Always
Another stomping metal tune, this has a classic NWOBHM sound. It really has a driving metal grind to it, too.
Loving You Is An Easy Thing to Do
More of a rock song than a metal one, this is classy stuff. It has some harmonica soloing that works pretty well, too.
Undercover Honeymoon
We're back into smoking hot metal territory with this cut. While it's more of a mainstream catchy metal on the choruses, the versus and screaming hot guitar solo section bring more meat to the table.
You Are the Heart
The first real ballad of the set, this is a cool cut. It has a bit of an 80s hair metal vibe. It's a nice bit of variety, though.
Blackhearts and Jaded Spades
Back in fierce metal territory, this is a screaming hot tune.
Tough Guys Tumble

A mean metal sound is the concept here. This isn't as effective as some of the other songs, but it has some great guitar riffing and a catchy chorus.

Dancing in Blue Moonlight

Coming in with more of a melodic approach, this is more of a balladic kind of thing. I suppose you could almost say that it has a bit of a prog rock leaning to it. On a different album it could pass as prog. It's perhaps more of a power ballad overall, though.

Playroom of Poison Dreams
In a lot of ways this music on this feels like something that could have fit on Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell album to me. The vocals are not like Dio, though. Still, this is a cool old school metal stomper. It's one of my favorite cut sof the whole set. The non-lyrical section makes me think of an Iron Maiden anthemic chant. I love the guitar soloing that ensues on the fadeout, too.
Monkey's Blood
Wow, this is literally screaming hot. It's the most ferocious thing on any of the three proper albums here. It might be my favorite piece of music in the whole box set, too. If it's not, it's close. 
Disc Four: Singles & EPs

Powergame (single)

This is a single version of the cut that opened the box set. It's fiery hot metal that works well.

Death on Mainstreet (B-side of "Powergame)
As the parenthetical indicates, this is the flip side of the previous cut in single form. This definitely makes me think of early Iron Maiden in a lot of ways. It's a killer metal cut in the NWOBHM tradition. I love the guitar solo section on this.
Fever (Lightning Strikes)

Driving, pounding, this is fierce metal. The production leaves a little bit to be desired, though. Still, this is actually one of the cooler cuts here. It really stomps. I love the guitar solo segment on this thing.

Attack Attack (Lightning Strikes)
Here is another that makes me think of Iron Maiden quite a bit. It's high energy and driving.
Madame Guillotine (Madame Guillotine EP)

More high energy raw metal is the concept here. Early Maiden is again a valid reference in some ways. The guitar solo section of this is particularly potent.

Breakout (Madame Guillotine EP)

Now, this one really has an Iron Maiden sort of vibe. It's another powerhouse tune that's fast paced and fierce. The guitar solo sections is again definitely noteworthy.

Lovestruck (Madame Guillotine EP)

 Drums lead this tune out of the gate. Then the bass joins. The tune works out from there in some killer metal.

Midnight Rendezvous (Midnight Rendezvous EP)

This is a bit more of a mainstream tune, but it loses none of its metal fire in the process.

Mean Streak (Midnight Rendezvous EP)
There is definitely a "mean" vibe to this stomper. I love the pounding, driving instrumental break section. The buildup movement from there is all class, too. So is the guitar solo that follows.
If Heaven Is Hell (Midnight Rendezvous EP)

Here is a song that was on the first album. It works really well here, but it worked really well there, too. It's just such a meaty tune.

Highway Passion (Midnight Rendezvous EP)

I love this screaming hot metal stomper. It has a lot of old school Iron Maiden type sound in it.

Shadows of Insanity (The Cave Sessions)
I dig the cool mellower vibe that opens this cut. It has almost a progressive metal feeling to it as it works forward. It works out to some seriously furious stuff from there. The guitar solo is particularly tasty.
School House Is Burning (The Cave Sessions)

Another mean and rather raw metal tune, this makes me think of early Motley Crue just a bit.

Jezzabel (The Cave Sessions)
This really feels like something Motley Crue would have done on the Shout at the Devil album.
Monkey's Blood (The Cave Sessions)
The closer from the last album, this works so well here, too.
Undercover Honeymoon (Undercover Honeymoon 12")
Here's another version of the earlier cut. It works well here, too.
Playroom of Poison Dreams (Undercover Honeymoon 12")
Another repeat visitor, this cut still has that Heaven and Hell era Sabbath sound to it.
Stealing the Thief (Undercover Honeymoon 12")
The riff that opens this is not only classic, it's also incredibly tasty.
Bottom End (Undercover Honeymoon 12")
This is weird. It comes in with a funky bass line and 80s sounding keyboards. It's sort of a funk / fusion kind of thing. This instrumental definitely doesn't fit with the rest of the set.
 
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