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Toranaga - God's Gift (Reissue)

God's Gift (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 08 April 2013, 5:18 PM

I think that somebody needs to account me mileage for the time traveling I have been doing in the past couple of months. However, I can’t complain as I am not paying for the trip and it is always great to get away, maybe not physically, but spiritually (yeah I know what you are thinking: spiritual headbanging, kind of neat isn’t it?). This time I went back to 1990, to the outskirts of Bradford, England, to reacquaint myself with a tough reminiscent of the old English Heavy / Thrash guard named TORANAGA (a title taken out of Japanese history or myths). Divebomb Records, always on the lookout and with an aim of not letting go of the old legacies that shaped our current Metal scene, reissued the band’s sophomore album, “God’s Gift”, recollecting the atmospheric nature of British Metal. Well, the Brits started it all, without them there would have been nothing that can be called Metal. The early 90s seemed to be the last steps of fearless assaults of the 80s, right before Metal received its historic bang from all the alternative rubbish, at least there were a few small treasures to indulge. However, “God’s Gift” wasn’t really one of them, but I have to admit that it was very close and still made me reach out to it a few times afterwards.

Generally, TORANAGA is a result of how British Metal evolved throughout the 80s. Starting with emphatic NWOBHM towards the valleys of cut throat traditional British Metal, in the vein BLACK SABBATH and SATAN, surging through various extremities such as Doom or even Death Metal while there were those that chose to follow the Thrashed up Americanized assaults of the Bay Area such as HEATHEN and METALLICA, early formation of New York’s OVERKILL and several primary ANTHRAX attributes and of course remaining loyal to their localities such as SABBAT and a glimpse of XENTRIX. Essentially, TORANAGA embraced and shared the fine line between what is traditional and what is thrashy, allowing themselves swinging between heaviness, roughed up chanting and preaching, forthright sloughed riffing without with a sort of an emphasis on keeping it simple, but not that discolored or reoccurring, ample Heavy Metal soloing accomplishing a fine standard, basic oriented rhythms complementing the genres braced together as one and a sound production to fit both British and American standards of their time.

What saddened me a bit that unlike their other British counterparts that accentuated Heavy Metal in their music, XENTRIX not included as this band was more of a full time Thrash Metal being, TORANAGA seemed to be less melodic. They had several moments of influential acoustic moments driven with amazing chorused melodies, but other than that, nothing substantial. Furthermore, I had quite a hard time getting used to their vocalist, Mark Duffy. Sure that as a band that turned to Thrash rather than the common traditional Metal thing, the vocals were accordingly, though HEATHEN and ANTHRAX are exceptions, his singing performance wasn’t more than adequate. At several moments I thought that he was losing it a bit, but in overall, his voice left me without a complaint after the listening session concluded. “Food of the Gods” and “Execution” pinched me greatly than the others, which most of them were pretty solid, some not half bad. “Food of the Gods” is a fine Thrasher, reminded why I love the 80s so much. Even if this song was 1990, it sounded just as old HEATHEN, ANTHRAX and D.A.M. once used to clog and bust people’s heads. The main riff is a classic type, even if it has been used endlessly and not showing too much development. Yet, I just couldn’t stop headbanging to this number. The plus was that its groovy sections, tainted by grim bass line, created a little more flavor and of course the short, yet quite good, solo section. “Execution” mercilessly continuing the slaughter, originally it was the finally summary of this album, but with the extra tracks distributed only by Divebomb, it served as a blazing mosher before a short recess. This is pretty much on the same vibe as the former, but a little bit assorted, closer to SATAN than HEATHEN. In a nutshell, old school Metalheads should take this release and grasp it, it is a piece of history. It might not be mind-blowing, but it deserves a respect. Furthermore, the band is still out there and probably will be sending a new “Hello” sometime soon.     

3 Star Rating

1. The Shrine
2. Psychotic
3. Sword of Damocles
4. Hammer to the Skull
5. Food of the Gods
6. Disciples
7. Last Breath of Life
8. Black Is the Mask
9. Execution
10. Beauty & The Beast
11. Eternity’s End
12. Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac Cover)
Mark Duffy - Vocals
Andy Burton - Bass
Steve Todd - Drums
Andy Mitchell - Guitar
Record Label: Divebomb Records


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Edited 30 November 2022

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