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Review: Tokyo Blade - Night of the Blade (2021)
Tokyo Blade
Night of the Blade (2021)

Label: High Roller Records
Year released: 2021
Originally released in: 1984
Duration: 34:46
Tracks: 8
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: May 30, 2021
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.08/5 (81.67%) (12 Votes)

I love Tokyo' Blade's self-titled debut from 1983. I had the Combat Records version released in the US where it was called Midnight Rendezvous and features a different track list. Metal-Archives calls it a compilation and doesn't list the over of "Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia," which was on my album, though unlisted. Why am I bringing this up in a review for a reissue of Tokyo' Blade's second album, 1984's Night of the Blade? To underscore how insanely crazy this band's early career was and perhaps explain why they weren't the big success they could have been.

With good reviews for the debut, the band's British label, Powerstation Records, ushered them into the studio for a follow-up. Some press back then had dubbed Tokyo Blade the "next Iron Maiden" and while they were from the same NWOBHM mold, even as big fan I knew that was nothing more than hyperbole. Still, you can hear the similarly rambunctious bass and plenty of harmony guitar work on tracks like "Unleash the Beast" and "Night of the Blade." These are the type of '80s songs, hard but catchy, that my love of metal thrived on back in the day. Listening to the rest of Night of the Blade, you can hear where all was not as it was on the debut. The band's deal with Powerstation apparently gave the label a LOT of say over the album and they pushed Tokyo Blade in a more commercial direction, obvious on "Someone to Love" and "Rock Me to the Limit," songs that wouldn't be out of place on a Y&T album. Ok, lots of bands, for one reason or another, ended up chasing a hit and having fans drift away. It happened a lot in the '80s. Powerstation wasn't done there, though. They did not care for singer Alan Marsh and forced the band to sack him and bring in Vic Wright to re-record most of the lead vocals (the rest of the album is untouched, according to guitarist Andy Boulton). Vic's voice is more emotive and while he doesn't sound a whole lot different than Marsh to my ears (maybe because he just sang Marsh's same vocal lines), his delivery fostered the commercial direction Powerstation wanted the album to go in.

If it was just a stylistic shift and a vocalist change, Tokyo Blade might have weathered the storm, but the material on Night of the Blade is not up to the standard they set with their debut. There's no "Heaven or Hell" or "Break the Chains," songs that got the air guitar and air drums going. The less engaging songwriting, the style shift and the lineup changes all contributed, and this was the last Tokyo Blade album to see wide distribution for many years. It's a moment in time, a slice of the NWOBHM and not The Blade's finest work, but hints at what could have been.

More about Tokyo Blade...
Review: Midnight Rendezvous (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Night of the Blade (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Night of the Blade...the Night Before (2021) (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Thousand Men Strong (reviewed by MetalMike)
Interview with Andy Boulton (guitars) on April 9, 2011 (Interviewed by MetalMike)
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