Rage’s Revival Metal Reviews – Toledo Steel – Zero Hour (2015) and No Quarter (2018)

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I have decided to start reviewing releases from the “Revival” scene here in the United Kingdom to help draw some attention to the bands and the scene overall to encourage more people to get into the music. We have seen the positivity created by the NWOCR scene and those bands and I am hoping to be able to do the same with he Revival movement which has frankly been going from strength to strength of late. I will do my best not to get bogged down in the comparisons with other bands or genres and try and talk about the songs and releases based on their own merit. We have enough online reviews comparing everything under the sun to Iron Maiden and we do not need any more of those. I am starting with Toledo Steel, who are a traditional Heavy Metal band from Southampton, England originally formed back in 2011 who have been a staple of the Revival movement for several years now and I will be looking at both of their most recent releases.

Zero Hour (E.P.) 2015

The E.P. opens with the instrumental piece, Zero Hour before kicking into Fallen Empire, it really sets the mood and brings with it that feeling of a classic Metal release. Fallen Empire in itself is an old school Metal track, from around 2:11 the song becomes truly epic, with the main riff returning and building into an amazing section, with dual lead guitars backing epic vocals into the solo sections which continues to drive the song forward, with again the dual harmony lead section starting from 3:43 being one of my favourite sections from any band on the British underground scene right now. It really does build you up and give you that sense of old school Heavy Metal conquest the world was sorely missing ten years ago when everything was a fringe, breakdowns and Metalcore. It’s long been a favourite track of mine from the band.

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City Lights continues in the same vein as Fallen Empire, this is a band who should be getting the same sort of renown as Holy Grail, White Wizzard, Monument, Cauldon, Skull Fist, Enforcer, Ranger and more and this track is another example of that. Its got more bluesy elements in sections, but the chorus really makes the song and showcases Richard Rutter’s impressive vocal style. Children of the Sun opens with an amazing intro that again creates that feeling of supreme Heavy Metal majesty. This is probably the stand out song from the E.P. Obviously the musicianship by the band on this release is incredible, and the production for a self-release is strong. Obviously, there are the impressive Toledo Steel instrumental sections and solos in Children of the Sun which are a signature of this release. Matt Dobson is an absolute monster behind the kit, long being one of my favourite Metal drummers on the scene live and his performance on this release reflects that.

Speed Killer is another favourite song of mine, again with soaring vocals and an epic lead line and rhythm that really drives the song forward. The chorus’s also gets stuck in your head and is one of the best on the scene right now. Speed Killer! Speed Killer! The riff under the chorus is pure old school, and the dual harmonised leads in the break section really does give the song great a dynamic moving perfectly into the next section of the song.  The final song from the EP, the self-titled track Toledo Steel starts off with the sounds of whirling Spanish steel on a battlefield of antiquity before a thunderous Metal assault begins. Again, the dual lead work in this song is great and a chorus which again sticks with you long after the song has done.

No Quarter (2018)

No Quarter is the first album from Toledo Steel, and has been released through the traditional Heavy Metal label Dissonance Promotions and is available from even hmv stores in the U.K. The band has subsequently changed line up since the Zero Hour release with Kyle House being replaced by Josh Haysom on lead guitar. Bassist David Lovell remains on the release as a session member, but subsequently the role of bassist has since been filled by Nathan Davies. They are both great players in their own rights, but the band has done well to find equally good replacements ahead of, and after the album recording.

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The album kicks off with very fitting technoir sounds before kicking into Behold the Machine. Somewhat darker than the material on the previous release, with lyrical theme s about a Machine led tyrannical rule of the Earth. The riffs overall are much heavier here too, with slow driving riff led sections replacing the lead guitar driven sound that comprised much of Zero Hero. At 4:10 we’re treated to one of Toledo Steel’s best compositions, with a huge riff and melodic vocals giving you a sense of impeding doom throughout, reminding us that we’re out of time and there is no turning back. No Quarter, the title track, continues the heavier tone of the album, with a much more menacing sound overall. This really gives the impression of a band looking to grab you by the throat with the release. The high vocals are still there, but excellently delivered with a lot of grit which compliments the sound of the album throughout.  We do however see the epic dual leads in this song that were a staple of Zero Hour, with dual lead guitars leading to the solo section on No Quarter, which again really does help deliver the epicness of the band overall. Cemetery Lake is another exercise in old school evil Heaviness which seems to be a recurring theme of the release, even with the backing vocals theres a different edge to Zero Hour that helps create the atmosphere of the album well. It’s just darker overall and I really like the contrast between the releases.

Visions in the Fire starts with a bass/drum drive as the guitars slowly join in kicking into the beef of the song again bringing back that feeling of NWOBHM but retaining the heaviness and evilness overall. This is probably my favourite vocal performance from Richard Rutter on the album, his vocals really stand out with this track. He just sounds class here. The solo section this song is pure NWOBHM inspired quality at its best, and as good as any of the big hitters form back in the day. Sight of the Sniper is a bit more classic Toledo Steel in terms of riffs, drums and overall compositions and especially in the vocal melodies. Around 1:47 onwards is a perfect example of this and is greatly welcomed but bleeding back into that menacing, evil sound that is the backbone of the No Quarter release.

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Rock Nights opens with an equally brutal crushing old-school riff with soaring vocals and this song is another favourite of mine. This is again another solid vocal performance overall with a great chorus that sticks. Heavy Metal Headache returns very much to the British Metal format with the galloping riffs and basslines you would expect from the scene and is anything but a headache to listen to. In fact, this is one of the best old-school riffs on the album. Again, this is classic Toledo Steel, so if you loved their earlier work you will love this and Rock Nights as a pair.

The drumming on No Quarter is well performed and has been mixed incredibly well overall, lending to that overall heaviness of the release which I really enjoy. Tom Potter must be credited for his solo work on these releases as his solos are always tasteful, well thought out and delivered well in the context of the track. Josh Haysom seems to be a great choice as an additional guitarist too.

As stated throughout the review, this album is much heavier, grittier and darker than what we would have previously expected from the band but also represents a step up, and a step in the right direction for an already well-rounded band of greats musicians and songwriters.  The album finishes with When the Night Draws in. This is a great album closer and one of the most epic songs on the album and a good way to finish the release. I love the rhythm guitar and drums in the solo section which finishes with a dual guitar harmony the harkens back to the golden era of Heavy Metal.

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In short with the right push, Toledo Steel could be huge. They have the right look, great chorus’s and sexy guitar riffs to inspire fans of traditional Metal fans the world over. But they have had all these for a number of years now, and I’d like to see them get the plaudits they deserve. They have the perfect blend of epic instrumental sections and clever verse and chorus hooks, and a vocalist with a great high vocal range who can deliver. I don’t see why Toledo Steel couldn’t play a stage as big as Download and go down extremely well, and it’s certainly time that bands like these got that opportunity here in the UK. They should be known throughout Europe, as they are doing a sound which is already very popular on the continent and in most cases being performed by hundreds of bands there, but only to a standard only half as well as what Toledo Steel offers. Toledo Steel is a legitimate old-school British band that is not a gimmick or a creation of a record label looking to capitalize on the growing popularity of the revival Metal movement here in the U.K. Please support the band by buying both releases here.

For fans of Judas Priest, Armored Saint, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Metal Church

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