IAN TOOMEY – ‘Ascension’
13 August 2015
Release Date: September 4th 2015
After a tidal wave of positive reviews British Metal legend, Bitches Sin’s Ian Toomey, has gone it alone with the release of his debut solo album.
For aficionados of the NWOBHM movement, the mention of the name Ian Toomey won’t have you scratching your head in wonder. But for those of you whose knowledge of that period only stretches as far as the kingpins such as Diamond Head, Iron Maiden and Tygers Of Pan Tang, let me tell you you are in for a sumptuous treat if this album falls in your lap.
Back in the 80s Toomey and brother Pete were unleashing their singular brand of Metal with Cumbria’s Bitches Sin. Although not household names compared to the above mentioned, they still to this day command a serious hardcore following. Their main success peaked with the 1986 album ‘Invaders’, however further triumphs were hampered by gluts of line up changes.
This album actually started life as a new Bitches Sin record, but eventually morphed itself into an Ian Toomey album, mainly due to the personal content in the songs.
If his intention was to straight away lay down a statement of intent, opening track ‘Almost And Always’ does the trick just nicely. Despite the sound check like start, the song gradually grows muscle with its doom laden rhythm. And one listen to the chorus, you immediately feel your going to get something very special, but more importantly, something evidently unique.
That is partly due to the role played by legendary producer Chris Tsangarides. The man who has worked with acts as diverse as Judas Priest and Tom Jones has a long association with Toomey and Bitches Sin. Their close friendship has blatantly brought out the best in Toomey’s song writing talents.
‘Bad Blood’ has vocalist David A Mills singing for his life on a track with more than a similarity to Bad Company’s ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’. The fist pumping tempo binds perfectly with the highly emotive chorus. The three and half minutes of chaotic brilliance that is ‘Superman’ has all the traits of traditional British Heavy Metal – power, melody and an unmistakable live feel.
And it’s that live feel that’s flowing through this album. Tsangarides’ Midas touch of capturing the moment shows itself majestically on ‘Very Soon Everyone’s Leaving’. It was the reaction to this song’s release as a single that prompted Toomey to dip his toes in the solo arena.
And if you thought no one could top Lynyrd Skynyrd’s guitar solo in ‘Freebird’, the barbaric fret assault in this track well and truly puts the Southern legends whimpering in the corner. On ‘Never Alone’, the tasty riff acts as the perfect entrée before the throwback grandiose Metal finish. One of this album’s major players.
As Monty Python famously said: “And now for something completely different”. The elegant ‘Survivor’ struts along with an arrogant Deep South swagger, a song worlds apart from the previous bruisers. The funkadelic groove of ‘Hedonistic Daze’ might not sound as spontaneous as the other tracks but hell, it don’t matter. This gem oozes class start to finish, Mills performance is flawless and the Bonham like skin beating by Steve Turton make for a complete humdinger.
The doom vibes return with closing and title track, ‘Ascension’, a tune that might require a hell of a lot of spins to truly warm to it. But the slack stagnant pulse eventually finds its way into your head, and believe me; it’s pretty hard to shift, and just for good measure, a mind warping solo closes out the song and album in menacing style.
I’ll be brutally honest, this album won’t enable Toomey to put an east wing onto his house. In fact, it probably wouldn’t enable him to purchase the planning permission sign but his name and work with Bitches Sin will be rediscovered on the back of this release.
And let me tell you, you’ll find it hard to find an album this year as genuine and with as much integrity as this.
Almost And Always
Very Soon Everyone’s Leaving
Ian Toomey – Guitars
Chris Tsangarides – Guitars/Keyboards
David A Mills – Vocals
Steve Turton – Drums
Dan McNamee – Bass