Toranaga - Righteous Retribution

Thrash metal reunions seem to be the 'in thing' nowadays. Over the past decade we've seen reformations from Onslaught, Sabbat, Coroner, Toxik, Anihilated, Blood Feast, Exhorder, Virus and a fair few more who probably aren't worth mentioning, but one of the more surprising comebacks was Toranaga. Lumped into the same boat as fellow Brits Anihilated, Toranaga seemed to get passed up during the eighties yet a few folks have rather fond memories of both studio releases - Bastard Ballads and God's Gift may not have been anything original or even vaguely flashy, but they were pretty solid albums. Now Toranaga have given us their first full length in 23 years, the somewhat redundantly titled Righteous Retribution.

The first thing I said upon hearing Righteous Retribution (after poking fun at the album's title at least) was "You know what, this sounds exactly like Testament". And it does sound exactly like what you would expect from a modern Testament album, albeit with composition and performance far less shitty than what you'll find on the atrocious Dark Roots of the Earth. Urgh. But yes, the riffs, arrangements and (perhaps most of all) Mark Duffy's vocals all sound so similar to the Bay Area thrashers that I was genuinely confused for a split second and I have to say that it leaves me with somewhat of a sour taste in my mouth. It's not that the whole Testament sound ruins the album, but it just doesn't feel like a Toranaga release when it sounds so similar to something else in all areas... one could argue that Toranaga didn't really have an identity or an identifiable sound back in the eighties anyway, but that's kind of besides the point. It's a fucking good Testament sound-a-like, I'll give you that, but it just kinda of feels like Toranaga are lacking that secret sauce to actually give some sort of unique twist to their sound beyond tried-and-tested thrash metal that sounds a bit too similar to a bigger band for it sit comfortably. Despite my gripes with such eerie similarities, this is still a pretty good listen from start to finish. It's quite varied and keeps up a nice pace while boasting some chunky guitar sound and terrific performances from every single member. The riffs and leads are memorable and most importantly the choruses are catchy (see 'Prove Me Wrong' for a prime example), plus the production is fucking top notch for what's essentially a self-released effort. Tracks like 'Something Evil' and 'I Play God' are stompy as shit so it's nice to see a more so-called 'serious' thrash album that an still be genuinely fun despite a lingering feeling of deja vu.

To be blunt, Righteous Retribution is a very good record but it loses marks for soundling so much like a Testament album. Again, many may argue that it's not a bad thing as it's certainly superior to the last bucket of shit that Testament fed their fans, but it's a textbook example of a band trying and failing to muster up their own unique sound in a genre that's already full of sound-a-like acts and therefore, it loses marks. Still, if you enjoy heavy thrash metal with catchy segments and a chunk of melody then you can do far worse than this but I'd personally recommend witnessing the band live for a more enjoyable experience. Not a bad effort, here's hopig they can improve it with the next release.

1. Portum Ad Infernum
2. Traitor's Gate
3. Cynical Eyes
4. The Ultimate Act Of Betrayal
5. I Must Destroy
6. Return Of The Gods
7. The Beginning Of The End
8. Prove Me Wrong
9. Something Evil
10. Battle Cry
11. Rise From The Flames
12. I Play God

Self released
Reviewer: Dave Ingram Jr.
Oct 30, 2013

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