It’s impossible to ignore the current crop of top-notch British trad metal bands on the march. Scene leaders Monument and Primitai both have albums ready for release in the very near future, but (much) more of them will doubtless be heard later. For now let’s concentrate on Southampton natives Toledo Steel, whoearly next month release their debut full-length offering, No Quarter.
As with all trad metal being released in 2018 you know what you’ll be getting from this band long in advance of actually opening the seal on the album. The trick for the musician is to provide some, any, point of difference to make their band stand out from the crowd. And in this case Toledo Steel aren’t entirely successful.
That’s not to say that No Quarter isn’t a listenable album, because it is. But if you put this up against someone like French act Existance, who operate in roughly the same territory, and have been doing so for more or less the same amount of time, there’s a wide gulf in what the two bands actually bring to the table. I’d happily listen to both, but at the moment Toledo Steel are just a little bit behind in terms of songcraft and the generation of raw, hairs-stand-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck excitement generation.
The basic template here is a sort of Killers- type sound overall – there’s some lovely bass clank going on at the start of Visions in the Fire that’s purely Harrisesque – overlain with the vocals of Rich Rutter that veer between the Brit roar of Monument’s Pete Ellis and a more American sound (Crimson Glory’s Midnight comes to mind more than once over the album’s duration, particularly on the afore-mentioned Visions…). It’s dependable, it’ll have you punching the air enthusiastically along to the chugging Rock Nights, it’ll test your neck muscles as you get involved with the excellent Sight of the Sniper. Tom Potter and Josh Haysom are a great guitar partnership in the best Brit metal tradition, but there’s just something missing here, a metal x-factor that keeps the material from truly igniting.
All that said, I wouldn’t want to discourage you from giving the material a good listen, or from investing a few units of whatever currency you deal in on the band. Bands like Toledo Steel are the lifeblood of our kind of music, and given time I’m sure will develop into true banner wavers for British heavy metal. This may not be completely my cup of tea, but more power to ‘em I say!
No Quarter is released through Dissonance Productions on June 1st.