There were many bands that got tagged with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal label back in the early eighties. Some of those bands embraced it, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Samson etc, and some hated being lumped in with it, Def Leppard being the most obvious example. Even bands like Budgie, Judas Priest and Motorhead who had been around long before the NWOBHM moniker was thought up by Sounds magazine, were getting pulled into the whole NWOBHM movement. Of course, Budgie and Priest were nothing to do with it, but it was easy to see why they got caught up in it. Budgie’s Power Supply album was by far their most heavy metal sounding album and was released in 1980. Priest had released their breakthrough album British Steel in 1980 as well. It can be argued that Motorhead were indeed a NWOBHM band though because their seminal albums Overkill and Bomber were released in 1979 just as the NWOBHM got started, and their most successful period started in 1980 with the ‘Ace of Spades‘ album. Anyway, I digress!

Tokyo Blade were forged in the fires of the NWOBHM and released their first self-titled album in 1983. By this time the wind in the sails of the NWOBHM had started to die down. The album is a full-blown classic in my eyes with songs like ‘Powergame’ and ‘Break the Chains‘, it’s just heavy metal personified. The band suffered with many line up changes but continued to release material until the late nineties.

The current line-up of Andy Boulton (Lead guitar), John Wiggins (Rhythm guitar), Alan Marsh (Vocals), Andy Wrighton (Bass) and Steve Piece (Drums) have been together since 2016 and recorded the albums ‘Unbroken’ (2018) and ‘Dark Revolution’ (2020). Their latest release ‘Fury’ was written and recorded in lockdown with Andy Boulton utilising his home studio to record the album.

The end result sounds great with a powerful mix. There is some fantastic traditional heavy metal on offer here with solid performances and some well-written songs. The opening track ‘Man in a Box’ highlights the vocal abilities of Alan Marsh and is polished with some guitar wizardry from Boulton. ‘Blood Red Night’ has an epic feel to it, ‘I am Unbroken’ is a full-on chugger with some tasty drumming from Piece holding the track together. The album flows well but my only real criticism is that is overly long with fifteen tracks.

The album has both a foot in the past and one very much in the present. A solid metal album that deserves to be listened to. There’s plenty on offer here for old and new fans alike. The cover art is fantastic too, let’s not forget that Tokyo Blade had utilised the Samurai on their artwork long before Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu! The album is released via Cherry Red Records in Jan 22.

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

Ah, the mighty Saxon. The band that turned me into a metal head back in 1986. Up until that point it was all about the top 40 and whatever was on Top of the Pops for me! A friend from school did me a mix tape and lent me his vinyl copy of the compilation ‘Strong Arm Metal’ and I was hooked. It was all about heavy metal for me from that pivotal moment. There was something about early Saxon that I connected with and I’ve (mostly) been a fan ever since. They have been through their ups and downs over the years and a few line up changes, but Saxon have had a resurgence over the last 10 years or so and have released some fantastic albums. 2013’s ‘Sacrifice’ and 2015’s ‘Battering Ram’ is up there with their best work, as is 2018’s ‘Thunderbolt’. Enlisting Andy Sneap (Sabbat/Judas Priest) as producer gave their sound a thunderous edge and pushed Saxon back into the big leagues of metal.

The band had been busier than ever in the live arena until the dreaded virus put paid to any dates that were scheduled. What do you do when you have lots of free time on your hands? Put out an album of covers from the bands and artists that have influenced you of course! That’s exactly what Saxon have done here with some fantastic results. It’s a celebration of the music that makes Saxon the band they are. They have gone down the old school route to record the album at Brockfield House near York, using real drums, and lots of Marshall amps! Frontman Biff Byford along with Jacky Lehmann have produced the album and it benefits from a great mix.

The band have dabbled with covers in the past with a great version of The Sweet’s ‘Set Me Free’ on 1984s ‘Crusader’ album and this foray into the bands influences throws up some tracks I would never have dreamed of a band like Saxon covering. The albums kicks off with a crunchy version of The Rolling Stones ‘Paint it Black’, this was the first release from Inspirations and there’s a cool behind the scenes video to accompany it. Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ is up next and Biff shows his vocal prowess here (yes, he handles the high notes in his own inimitable style), the bands groove is relentless behind him, this is a great version. The next track is one of the songs that shouldn’t work but it does somehow! The Beatles ‘Paperback Writer’ sounds great with heavier guitars and the vocal harmonies really work well.

We get back on more familiar ground with Black Sabbath’s ‘Evil Woman’, a real showcase for Tim ‘Nibbs’ Carter who is undoubtedly one of metals most underrated bass players. Next up we have a version of Jimi Hendrix’s classic anthem ‘Stone Free’, the band sound like they are having a blast with this one, you can feel the energy. I don’t think Saxon fans would be very happy if there wasn’t a Motorhead cover on here, of course they deliver with a brilliant version of ‘Bomber’ with drummer Nigel Glockler in full double bass monster mode. A great tribute to their old friends.

A frenetic take on Deep Purple’s ‘Speed King’ again highlights the vocal range of Biff Byford, he screams like a man possessed here and guitarists Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt play an absolute blinder with some serious shredding. A lesser know Thin Lizzy track gets the Saxon treatment, ‘The Rocker’ is a welcome addition instead of the usual Lizzy covers. Byford surprises again here with his range and really carries the song. A true to the original version of ‘Hold the Line’ by Toto grooves along nicely with Glockler showing he can handle the famous ‘Porcaro Shuffle’ with ease. (Google it kids). AC/DC’s ‘Problem Child’ doesn’t have the raw energy of the original, but it’s a solid effort all the same with Biff doing his best Bon impression. To close the album, we have a version of The Kinks ‘See My Friends’ which is probably the only track that doesn’t transition very well over to the metal titans even though it does chunk up towards the end.

Saxon have done a great job here and the main thing is to remember that it’s a bit of fun to try and lighten up these darkest of days that we have all been experiencing over the last year. Don’t take it too seriously, Saxon certainly haven’t. Crank it up with a beer in hand and sing along, you know the words!

 

Buy Inspirations Here

Author: Kenny Kendrick

 

THE STUDIO COLLECTION – REMASTERED

MAIDEN’S ACCLAIMED REMASTERS
GET THE CD DIGIPAK TREATMENT

Parlophone Records will continue their reissues series of the IRON MAIDEN catalogue with The Studio Collection – Remasteredcovering the band’s sixteen-strong studio albums across their career to date.

Following on from 2014/2017’s black vinyl releases and 2015’s Mastered for iTunes project, The Studio Collection – Remastered will be released on the Digipak CD format, with the track listing matching the original UK releases. The recordings are taken from the same remasters as the 2015 hi-res digital releases. The albums will be released chronologically in batches of four, across a nine month period superseding the previously available studio catalogue and all titles will also be made available on streaming platforms. As a bonus for collectors, one CD from each batch of releases will also be optionally available in a specially artworked box featuring a 1:24 scale figurine and exclusive patch. In the November 16th batch, this will be The Number Of The Beast.

Maiden founder member and bassist Steve Harris says, “We’ve wanted to revisit these for a long time and I was delighted with the remastering we did in 2015. I thought it was the best that our albums have ever sounded and it was only right that we made them available on CD now too.”

All four albums in this first batch are available for pre-order now from studiocollection.ironmaiden.com .

1st batch: November 16th
Iron Maiden / Killers / The Number Of The Beast (option of standard or collectors boxset edition including TNOTB Eddie figurine and patch) / Piece Of Mind

2nd batch: Feb 2019 date TBC
Powerslave / Somewhere In Time (standard/collectors) / Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son / No Prayer For The Dying

3rd batch April 2019 date TBC
Fear Of The Dark (standard/collectors) / The X Factor / Virtual XI / Brave New World

4th batch June 2019 date TBC
Dance Of Death / A Matter Of Life And Death (standard/collectors) / The Final Frontier / The Book Of Souls*

*not remastered but appearing in Digipak for the first time 

IRON MAIDEN recently completed the first leg of their Legacy Of The Beast tour, playing sold-out stadium, arena and headline festival shows across Europe to over 750,000 fans. The tour, which was hailed by fans and media alike as the must-see show of the summer, will continue into 2019 with a headline show at Brazil’s Rock In Rio festival recently announced and more dates to follow. See www.ironmaiden.com for updates.

Maiden at Amazon