There was something comical to me about calling what I thought was a new band "New Wave of British Heavy Metal"... I mean, sure, it's a good way to describe a known sound, but it's 30 years past the beginning of NWOBHM... and then I discovered that Tokyo Blade were, in fact, a part of the NWOBHM. Formed in 1982 and getting in a good 16 year run, the band reformed in 2008. And looking at the list of former members on Wikipedia -- I count 24 -- they could've even been some of the inspiration for Spinal Tap
's rotating list of drummers, although their rotation is fairly evenly split.
On the other hand, the band indicates that we can kind of ignore a large chunk of that history and personnel roulette for this album; Thousand Men Strong was recorded with four of the original five members (the odd man out is vocalist Nicolaj Ruhnow), and lead guitarist Andy Boulton commented that the album is spiritually the successor to their second album from 1984.
And, (clearly) never having heard any of their previous output, I can say that follow-up to an early-80s NWOBHM album is just about all you need to know to get this album. It's heavy and bluesy, with those slightly over-the-top vocals that hearken to what would become power metal. The latter bit makes sense, with Ruhnow having previously performed with German power metal act Domain
; I'd also make the comparison to James LaBrie in places. The vocals go beyond "over-the-top" to "totally overwrought" in places, in the way that might set your teeth on edge, but they generally fit well with the music.
Musically, the album is stacked full of big power chords and melodic riffs. There are lots of harmonized licks, although generally in the verse and chorus riffs rather than with twin leads. One song that particularly stands out is "No Conclusion," with the opening/closing riff that evokes Van Halen
's "Unchained." The bass is also a force to be reckoned with in the mix -- not just when the guitars do take the harmonized lead approach, such as on "The Ambush," but also just as a powerhouse to drive the song on tracks like "Lunch-Case."
Is Thousand Men Strong the type of album that's pushing into the future of metal? No, of course not. It's not even trying. But who cares? It rocks. If you like metal from that era, you'll probably dig this too.