By Dark Starr

The latest disc from TOKYO BLADE, this was recorded during Covid lockdown. There are some particularly strong songs here. They run the gamut from more mainstream metal rockers to fierce stuff. Personally, the meatier, fiercer stuff works best for me on this release, but it all has its charms. I think I'd have made a couple changes here to create a stronger album, though. This might be a case where less is more, and it would have worked better if they'd left two or three songs off and held them for a later release. Beyond that, the first half of the album seems to be stacked toward the more rock versus metal side of the equation. I think spreading those tracks out more might have made this work better. All in all, though, this is quite strong. Besides, I think a lot of people just listen to a song or two at a time these days. Taken like that, pretty much everything here is effective.

"Man In A Box" leads the album out, and they waste no time, firing out with some smoking hot metal out of the gate. The bass work on the song makes me think of IRON MAIDEN at times. The tune has some meaty hooks and a lot of style. Echoey layers of spoken sound-bite vocals, at least one of which is a certain former President, start "Blood Red Night." A killer metal riffing takes over from there. It drops to a stripped back arrangement, focused heavily on the bass. Distorted vocals are heard as this grows upward in an almost AOR prog way. This is definitely a mainstream tune. It has some metal edge, but is perhaps closer to a harder-edged pop rock early. It turns more metallic as it continues.

Fierce and furious, "I Am Unbroken" is mean. Yet it still has some particularly catchy hooks. It's decidedly metal, but that hard rock sound is in place, too. I really love the screaming hot metal on "Disposable Me." It's got some cool creative edges, but is also catchy. "Eyes Wired Shut" is even meaner and meatier. It's a fiery tune that is decidedly metal, but still has a bluesy hard rock edge to it. There is some particularly expressive, yet technical, guitar soloing on this killer tune. The song is one of my favorites here.

As "Cold Light Of Day" comes in and builds it has a smoking hot progressive metal sound to it. Keyboards lend something special. This is a powerhouse metal tune overall, though. It just has some proggy drama at times. Some symphonic over-layers later add to that proggy concept and bring a lot of magic as they do. Sirens and other sound effects rise up later in the track. it fades down, seeming to end, but the cut rises back up for a short reprise.

"We Fall Down" comes next. Children chanting the rhyme from which the title comes are given a rather ominous vibe via the production. A killer metal screamer fires out from that introduction. This is one of the most purely metal songs here. There is a real neo-classical edge to the guitar solo. The song is definitely another highlight of the set. In fact, it might be my favorite cut here.

"Heart of Darkness" is another screaming hot metal tune. It has some killer hooks and riffs, but is not quite as strong as the song that preceded it. Still, it's pretty damned good. More fierce and mean metal, "Kill Me Till I'm Dead" is another highlight. It's fairly brutal, yet still has good hooks. I absolutely love the scorching hot guitar solo on the number.

They ramp things up even more on "Life Leaves A Scar." It is meaner and frantic and really screams. It's another standout. There is a spoken opening to "Message On The Wall," delivering a sobering warning. The cut fires out to fast-paced metal from there. There are some solid hooks on the tune The instrumental section is intriguing. It starts with the rhythm section. Then a melodic guitar part is heard before some fierce and technical soloing emerges over the top. Another mean and potent metal screamer, "Nailbomb" is so tasty. It's another favorite here.

"Rhythm Of The Gun" is still fierce and heavy, but it has more of that good-time rock and roll edge to it. It feels almost like something that would have fit well in the hair-metal era. The extensive guitar solo covers some different territories along the ride. A little slower, "Static" has more of a mean metal grind in place. I like the tune, and it brings some variety, but it just doesn't work as well for me as some of the others do. "When The Bullets Fly" ends the album, and things get on track for the closer. There is a smoking hot power metal sound to the killer rocker. The vocal hook on it is so catchy, but they don't sacrifice any metal edge for it.