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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KAINE 2017: A YEAR IN REVIEW

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2017 started off greatly optimistic, the band in the new format had been together a year and we were planning to release an album later in the year, and while the big time hadn’t come calling in 2016 we were hopeful with the new line-up and album we could make huge strides forward in 2017.

Our first show of the year was at the B2 in Norwich, which was quickly followed by an intimate show at Sound Academy in Braintree. For those who do not know what Sound Academy is, it’s free music lessons and workshops for young people held at Braintree Foyer and it was really good to play there and meet with them there after our set.

We re-released Falling Through Freedom in a remastered format. It’s since nearly gone on to sell out again on CD. It will remain to be seen if we have another run of these CD’s done but it was fun to revisit that album, and we played some of it with both Josh Moreton and Anthony Murch who appeared on the original album in 2012 at a special show in support of Elimination’s 10 year anniversary at The Smokehouse, Ipswich in May.

Throughout the year we played bimonthly Metal shows at the Asylum in Chelmsford. The idea behind these shows would be ourselves headlining but the bands underneath us would change every show, and these would be a mixture of genres, a successful system we had promoted before out of the Soundhouse in Colchester before the new owners there came in and ended the shows. We were primarily running the shows, which were free entry, to help support the Asylum venue and keep it open in Chelmsford. The shows there were a success and every night we had was well attended, but sadly we were unable to keep the venue going with these shows alone and they closed before our final show there in December.

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Other notable shows through the year were headlining a show with V1, which features Dennis Wilcock and Terry Wapram both formerly of Iron Maiden which James Balcombe joined us on drums for, Breaking Bands where we played the outside tent to an enthusiastic audience, many of which also saw us at Mearfest later that year as part of The Rock Den travelling group, who not only support those events in Hatfield but travel all over supporting gigs up and down the country.

In addition to having the honour of playing a show with ex-Maiden members, we also did a number of gigs at the Cart & Horses in Stratford throughout the year.

We recorded a live album at the Asylum earlier last year which will also be released later this year, which features the new album played in its entirety and two additional tracks featuring Dan Mailer on Vocals and a one-off appearance for Josh Moreton on drums which will be a very special release.

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In March we parted ways with our management, Distilled Entertainment in America. This was a mutual decision as we simply couldn’t afford to progress the band in the way they wanted, which was essentially to buy onto a bigger bands tour, which would have both cost us a large amount of money in terms of the buy on but the addition costs of renting vehicles, fuel, food and board while on the road, with even in some cases just a doors slot for our trouble. We would have had to have taken time off of work to have done it, and possibly take unpaid leave and having toured in the past we knew the payback from the tour itself wouldn’t have amounted to the losses we would have made on the road.

We had also hoped to return to Scotland for the fourth year running but sadly we couldn’t find any festival or promoter who would book us up there this time, so we have made sure that in 2018 we will return and have booked two shows in August which will feature Scotland’s very own Midnight Force and special guests on the Glasgow date will be our very good friends, and one of England’s leading progressive rock outfits Twisted Illusion.

So while we didn’t get picked up (again..) by any of the medium and major festivals in the U.K. or Europe we did play 33 shows total right across England.

On the album, we first entered into the studio in June and finished recording in September. We decided to use Pointy Halo Productions (Carl Brewer and Sheldon James) based at Red Wall Studios in Bury, Greater Manchester after Stephen Ellis had worked with them while recording bass for Twisted Illusion’s Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces. We liked how the record sounded and Stephen believed that Carl could get our next record sounding the way we wanted with the new direction of the band.

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The album is still being mixed and mastered, the delay coming due to the studio being very busy towards the end of the year and the Christmas/New Year period. However significant progress has been made in the last few weeks and we expect a release very soon.

One highlight from the studio wasn’t even music related. Chris, who is somewhat bothered by the paranormal decided that while in the studio rather than face the ghost sober he would get blind drunk. The end result was he ended up sleepwalking all over the studio, and at one point decided to take a piss all over one of the sofas, which is amusing enough but it was caught on CCTV for everyone in the studio to enjoy later that day.

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We also ended up staying in a low budget hotel and we’d brought some video cameras along to film our studio progress and the people the hotel in Salford assumed we where there for “the usual”. When we saw the room, it was odd to begin with, one of the beds was sunk in one side and the shower head was covered in pubic hair. After returning from the studio for the second night, the room was still in a state so we decided to ask for housekeeping. We were then informed that it’s only ever a request to have the room cleaned and they assumed we were there to make pornography. That being the usual. This is why we don’t have a DVD.

Working with Carl and Sheldon was fantastic, they were very patient, and all the guys (Dean and other Carl) at Red Wall were very supportive given the time we spent knocking about the studio hearing our mostly nonsensical East Anglian chatter. Also Chris’s desecration.

Another landmark in 2017 was The Waystone turned a profit. Now we got a lot of hate from some of the local music scene for this as we decided to post the costs related to the album online. Although there was a lot of abuse aimed at us we didn’t get too upset by this as the people commenting weren’t really aware of the whole facts although some of them decided to go one further and post abuse on our band page on Facebook, probably not seeing the irony of their very own Love Trumps Hate Facebook posts ….

The reason the costs with the album were so high was simply due to the fact it was what MGR Records had outlined (as well as the sound) for us all the way back in 2013, as they managed the recording before we had a falling out and we had to self-release. Another reason for high costs is we don’t have a whole lot of money to bulk buy CD’s and press vinyl’s, so generally smaller runs of CD’s and vinyl’s are more expensive to produce. Having said that, to achieve a profit and sell as many copies as we have was a huge success and something our detractors can never really take away from us. It’s an album that continues to sell well even to this day.

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To finish off, while 2017 wasn’t a major leap forward for the band in terms of playing bigger shows, festivals or being signed etc. It was a success in terms of the band becoming an incredibly tight live unit and for the new line-up to finally get into the studio and record the new album. What does 2018 hold for us? I expect much of the same, but we will get this new record out and continue to play shows as and where we can, and we are most grateful for everyone who supported us up unto this point. The pre-orders helped pay for the album recording, and having so many of your turn out for show after show up and down the country is always incredibly humbling. So while we may not be the next Iron Maiden or Metallica, we will continue to work hard on the underground and bring old school Heavy Metal to you!

As I said, we won’t be appearing on tour, at any big festivals, so if you want to see us in 2018 check out our dates and come along to one of our shows!

Love, Rage

A Crisis Of Faith is coming…

We’re gearing up to finally release the album which can still be pre-ordered for £3 here. In the meantime you can check out the final excellent artwork for the CD/Vinyl, Live Album and the Ghost Edition below.

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KAINE COMPLETE ALBUM RECORDING

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Kaine completed the entirety of the recording for A Crisis of Faith, having finished yesterday at Pointy Halo Productions based out of Red Wall Studios in Bury, Greater Manchester. The band last week put down the final guitar, bass, percussive and vocal parts to complete the recording process while the team at Pointy Halo will move on to the editing, mixing and mastering phase of the record.

A Crisis of Faith has already sold over 100 copies, with the album available for just £3 on digital download or £8 for CD. A number of people have bought the “Elite” package which includes the CD, Vinyl, live album, “Ghost” edition, t-shirt, original EP, studio items, live performance and free gig passes for £125. This is impressive given the band is yet to release a single track from the new album.

Kaine returns to the road this weekend as guests of Neverworld at Club 85 in Hitchin on Saturday. Tickets are still available on the door from 7pm.

Click here to pre-order the album today.