Toledo Steel – No Quarter

Genre: Metal
Released: May 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh

It is not my intention to be always reviewing Metal records. I want Unigon Plane to be broader than one genre. But sadly it is very hard to find much that goes any way towards creating completed records in straight Rock, Pop…

This week I almost gave up in disgust after trawling through over 40 releases that had no proper covers (whacking on a pic is not a cover making), sometimes no album title (no meta-story equals no album), and very often not even an album at all with 2-4 tracks of material that don’t even sound finished.

It seems like suddenly most Indi people are pretending to make music by throwing up a few sounds with a pic they found on the internet and thinking that because they coughed it up, it is art. If this was the case there would be no difference between 6yo Gemima with a hairbrush & Pink Floyd. That is not a universe I wish to live in.

Lucky I found Toledo Steel then. They finished their record nicely, created a title and rousing artwork. Only then did they publish it.

You get a YouTube video because the distributor has closed off most of the tracks on the Bandcamp page. I get that as streaming is truly killing music as it means many people think they don’t need to buy anymore. This is why there is so much dross and box-ticking tripe in the waters right now.

Rant over.

Straight up early-80’s style Metal is exactly what Toledo Steel are about. The name suggests it with the Judas Priest reference (to the “British Steel” album) and they play their game tight. Really tight as I am sure you are hearing.

If you don’t consider yourself a Metal fan then please take the time as this is simply a style of Rock that carries some of the vibes of 50’s Rock & Roll into a parallel universe swapping cars & surfboards for fantasy arcade games, drive-in movies, and fun, fun, fun till the demon takes the T-Bird away.

If you are a fan of Metal then you are probably enjoying this from the start. Tight riffing, punchy drums, and a singer who has learned a trick or two from Priest’s Halford. I’m giving the singer a lot of credit because he really sings well. But to be fair every part is polished yet alive. This is a credit to all involved from the dreaded drummer to the plucky Producer who kept the focus on the big picture of the record. This is the advantage of working with others.

Every song has melodies and hooks aplenty. Unlike the Black Veil Brides I listened to yesterday where every song seemed to use exactly the same vocal melody as the others, and every other emo/Post-Rock record I have had to endure. That was a chore. Every Toledo Steel song is a pleasure.

Sure, this record isn’t as deep as “Dark Side Of The Moon” or even “Bat Out Of Hell” but there is so much attention to detail that while I started out waiting for “No Quarter” to become formulaic, box-ticking, abandoned… the band have managed to skip past that at every turn – like a set of Kung Fu masters. “Cemetry Lake” could so easily have been a really silly song but instead it is just so much fun.

Using the “known” to shape something of your own is Art.

Comparisons are somewhat obvious. Judas Priest takes pole position with “Screaming For Vengeance” which is probably THE poster child for 80’s Metal. Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave” is a broader record but if you like one… Def Leppard is another facet of that era & style but if you like one… Jan & Dean you don’t expect but if you like…

Toledo Steel’s “No Quarter” is straight up simple fun R&R in the Metal form and it is a delight to have it. A delight to see a band taking the time to polish their craft without stooping to ticking the boxes that make records boring (even if the critics think that cool).