Tokyo Blade – Dark Revolution Review

Tokyo Blade: now there’s a name that stirs up memories. A quick perusal of the Huck N’ Roll archives resulted in two albums and two EPs gathering dust, and I remembered spinning their debut, Midnight Rendezvous1, many times as a teen. However, we got more of a kick out of their a cappella version of “Blue Ridge Mountains” than we did the actual music, and subsequent releases were poor at best. It seemed that, while Midnight Rendezvous was an above-average NWoBHM debut, the band decided to go down the hair metal path after that, to disastrous effect. Over the years, band members came and went, but album quality never rose above tepid. 2018’s Unbroken did nothing for me, and the same lineup (essentially their classic lineup from the early days) is back with Dark Revolution.

Dark Revolution is an aggressive, fast, hard-hitting record; clearly the band is trying to showcase an abundance of youthful vigor and excitement. “Story of a Nobody” opens with a classic, crunchy riff and is a real driving thumper of a song — but with an iffy, awkward chorus. Tokyo Blade sound strong and Alan Marsh nails his vocals. Marsh leaving the band back in ’84 was a big factor in their drop in quality. The twin guitars of Andy Boulton and John Wiggins are in fine form, with numerous tasty solos scattered across the record, and the rhythm section of Andy Wrighton on bass and Steve Pierce behind the drum kit sounds competent, albeit with the modern mechanical over-production. Don’t let the quiet mastering job (see the DR score) fool you: Dark Revolution features aggressive guitars and loud drums, just dialed down a few notches from most other recordings.

Despite the modern production, there’s a definite 80s feel to many of the tracks here. “The Lights of Soho” could very well be a modern take on the band’s 80s material: the vocal melody and guitar arrangements make this one of Tokyo Blade’s more compelling recent songs. “Crack in the Glass” opens with galloping guitar harmonies but, like “Story of a Nobody,” has a somewhat awkward chorus. The title track features some stellar lead breaks atop what seems to be the band’s standard driving, unchanging rhythm. Most of these songs, if taken on their own, are fun listens.2

The problem is, from song one to eleven, it’s next to impossible to tell the difference. Same tempo, same beats, same riffing. The changes from one song to the next are minuscule: a variation on the intro here, a slight dip in tempo there, that’s it. When every song sounds almost the same, there’s a word we aren’t allowed to use to describe it, but Google tells me that adjectives for it include monotonous, repetitive, and unvaried. That’s what we’ve got here: eleven songs and nearly an hour of unvaried metal. Normally we would say “pull out the three worst songs to make an excellent album,” but I can’t tell you which three to remove. That would make Dark Revolution shorter, but it wouldn’t improve what Tokyo Blade have brought to the table at all.

I admire Tokyo Blade for kicking around this late in the game, and with the classic lineup (especially Marsh on vocals) to boot. But for a band whose last good album came out in 1984, their recent output is disappointing and Dark Revolution doesn’t move the needle at all. Strong performances by all band members can’t save bland songwriting. If you’re looking for a lark, go check out their debut, or their second album, Night of the Blade (also good but with weaker vocals). There’s nothing to see here.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps MP3
Label: Dissonance Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 15th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. That was what it was called in Canada, with different songs and re-recorded tracks as compared to their self-titled debut, which was what Europe got.
  2. You’ll have to take my word for it, though. Even with having checked after the release date, there’s nothing for me to link to for your listening pleasure.
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