Without a doubt TOKYO BLADE is one of the most influential NWOBHM bands ever. Even tough they never managed to reach the status of other bands like DEF LEPPARD or IRON MAIDEN, they have managed to create quite a reputation, especially in the underground metal scene with their first albums to be perceived as classics among fans.
Despite being active all these years, their later albums are quite inferior compared to their early efforts. This may have been due to a change in the band’s musical direction, as the band tried to reach a more commercial sound back in late eighties. In general the band has been through a lot of ups and downs. Anyway, their previous effort “Thousand Men Strong” was a flawless return to their early roots but unfortunately that line up didn’t last long since mr. Ruhnow (vocals) left the band. At the end and after some singer-finding adventures Alan Marsh, the band’s original singer, is back.
To make a long story short, “Unbroken” is the band’s latest album and is a decent one looking back to the band’s recording history. Despite ostensibly everything being (or supposed to be) here, there is something missing.
But let’s get first thing first: the overall sound of the album isn’t reminiscent of the band’s early recordings. Instead, most of the songs are actually closer to the “Burning Down Paradise” or “Pumphouse” albums. For example, just listen to single “No Time To Bleed” or songs “Bad Blood”, “Stings Like An Open Wound” or “The man in black”. All of these songs are more accurately described being closer to hard rock than NWOBHM sound and they are characterized by a more “commercial” vibe. While this is not something bad (“Burning down paradise” has its moments), all of them lack memorable choruses or melodies which are essential for what the band is trying to achieve. And what’s more, Alan Marsh seems to have lost his voice quality and a little bit of his passion. I kept on listening to him and though the vocals are not bad, I cannot believe it’s the same person that sang “If Heaven Is Hell”.
Yet not everything is bad. The album has many strong moments. For example the best song of the album “Black Water” is an awesome post-NWOBHM tune and generally speaking the band seems to manage better with heavier songs like “The Last Samurai” (flawless), “Bullet Made of Stone”, “The Devil’s Gonna Bring You Down” where the guitar shreds like razor and the band shows its true potential in both songwriting and performing. Finally, the last song in the album, “My Kind of Heaven”, is a flawless return to “If Heaven is Hell” and is a truly magnificent track. Undoubtedly one of the best songs the band has ever composed.
To sum up I’d say that this is an uneven album. Definitely not bad, but still very “confused”. I wish the band had continued what they begun with “Thousand Men Strong” but apparently they still struggle to find their way. Should they focus in their heavier stuff, I think they’ll come up with some great songs in the future. But until then….