TORANAGA: Bastard Ballads LP + inner. UK Thrash Metal 1988. Check audio


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Toranaga Bastard Ballads
Label: Peaceville
Catalog#: VILE 5
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: UK
Released: 1988
Style: Thrash

A1 Sentenced 6:48
A2 Dealers Of Death 5:30
A3 Bastard Ballad 6:00

B1 Soldiers Be Brave 5:41
B2 Time To Burn 8:33
B3 Retribution 2:15

Bass Andy Burton
Drums Steve Todd
Engineer Kevin Ridley
Guitar Andy Mitchell
Producer Kevin Ridley
Vocals Mark Duffy

Despite two decent record deals (this album was put out through Peaceville, the second album Gods Gift through Chrysalis), Englands Toranaga made only a small splash during their career. I always found the raw energy of this debut superior. The band played with an early Bay Area feel, though heavily rooted in traditional NWOBHM, conveyed through the melodic guitars. Vocalist Mark Duffy has a raspy vocal style which reminds me of early German speed metal, perhaps a dash of Exodus.

There are only six tracks on the debut, so its a little short. “Sentenced” opens with a melodic thrash riff which reminds me of older Overkill. Its a pretty long track for thrash/speed metal, almost 7 minutes, and has its peaks and valleys. “Dealers in Death” is more of a heavy metal song with a heavier edge to it. “Bastard Ballads” begins with melodic speed metal and has some mellow parts with some cool leads. “Soldiers Be Brave” uses some flowing triplet picking and is one of the thrashier tracks on the album. “Time to Burn” is balladic at points, but picks up into some So Far, So What, So Good style thrashing during the bridge. The last song “Retribution” is a slower, moodier track and sets up the direction of the second album.

The mix here was decent. The drums have a lot of reverb to them so they often reach a pretty crashy level which thunders behind the even guitars and bass. Duffys vocals are decent and the songwriting is good. Aside from one or two catchier songs, though, this is a better album than Gods Gift. Its not exactly derivative, but more of a smorgasbord of sounds from better bands and albums.

wanna buy a gunto use on anyone

Britains best new thrash band said some writer for the popular English rag Kerrang!. Unfortunately, I have a very hard time tagging Toranaga as thrash. A quick glance at the song titles registers some heady intent, and if you flung Bastard Ballads onto the turntable and gave only first track, Sentenced, a spin you could get that impression, only with a lot more melody than expected, especially for something on grimy and stained Peaceville Record label. On the other hand, if you only had the track Dealers in Death, youd want to hunt down the guy who told you this was thrash – so much for something as (supposedly) cut and dry as thrash identification.

So, six songs for £ 6.66 GBP? The jacket doesnt tell you all but one clocks in no sooner than 5:30 minutes. Yeah, a little long in the tooth for the style and ends up pulling the disc into an lps timetable, but try tossing us a clue, eh? Apparently, it didnt dawn on anyone that mentioning song lengths wouldve eased the minds of consumers dishing out this kind of dough for seemingly an eps worth of material. We also wouldnt know 2+ minute closer Retribution is barely worth the dust in the waxs grooves, therefore in reality we have five songs that stretch time somewhere around Reign in Bloods infamously diminutive lifespan. Well, complaints end here, cause despite how this disc was ill-advertised and for all the thrash destruction it doesnt unleash, this quartets debut is still nothing to abandon to closet darkness.

Around the same time Kerrang! sent pureblood thrashers chasing wild geese, a more down to earth, fan-based Metal Forces stood up and proclaimed the group was Britains next breakthrough band. Well, whichever guy at MF offered that generous tidbit really wasnt too lost in the forest; in fact, he was probably quite confident in his vision through the scenes burgeoning woodlands that were dense with generic, blandly-colored ideas augmented by predictable, sleepy songwriting. He (couldve been Rob Clymo or Mike Exley since both listed Bastard Ballads in his top 20 for 88) was impressed with Toranagas formidable (and probably unforeseen) navigation of metals founding melodic spectrum. As the album slowly unfolds, he hears its sails fluttering. With more than just a fogged-up compass, hard-blowing wind, and some hope, the craft draws away from the dour, metallically-common, spear-impaled zombie head staring angrily at him from the cover. The albums title makes a little more sense now and he delights that, to an extent, it lives up to its latter half.

Musically, Toranaga are seaworthy on perhaps a Liege Lord-meets-early n less pearly-Leatherwolf level, but captained by a harsher, The Dungeons are Calling-era Savatage/Jon Oliva mouthpiece with a light cough of Chuck Billy-itis thrown in, though when drifting through the more melodically reflective waterways of Dealers in Death and the title cut, something in a burlier Fifth Angel/Helstar floats by the porthole. Rhythms almost never linger long enough to grow roots, usually galloping in with strong if not valiant energy, and by shifting sufficiently and purposefully keep the interest tanks of Soldiers Be Brave and 8+ minute Time to Burn stirred. Musicianship is advanced and generally aggressive without sounding pretty or flamboyant**, shoveled into view by Kev Ridleys manageable, though luckily soapless production.

But as I explained earlier, there are elements at work here thatre way more unexpected than expected. The expected is chained to the question is any of this thrash? Barely, in both amount and authenticity. A hopeful and apologetic enough imagination could possibly farm a rhythmically-thrashed patch or two from Time to Burn or Sentenced, but I wouldnt bet much on it. What isnt all that alarming is the use of melody, though the quantity of it surely is. Even if this did live up to Kerrang!s hype, itd be shortsighted to expect it to be ruled by the early churl of Sodom or Bathory. **But to me whats most surprising, audacious even, is their exploration of a Tesla/Dokken/Icon/Shotgun Messiah-ish shallow end that I didnt really see coming over the railing. Drop the needle anywhere in the middle of the title cut and youll roam a lightly dainty, questionably aimless, and gazing-off-into-space daydream/interlude thats braided with a blues-touched, in-search-of-meaning guitar solo. The funny thing is that these innocent little lulls only seem like short vacations that the band is momentarily coming back from, and somehow its a-okay with you (or me, anyway).
Named for a character in the novel Shogun, an alias for Tokugawa Leyasu, the first shogun.

Additional information

Weight 0.25 kg


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