Artist: Toja 
   Title: Train Of Life
   Label: Avenue Of Allies
 

Toja are a German band in the mould of Judas Priest and Gotthard, in no small part thanks to the ambitious theatrical vocals of singer Thomas 'Tommy' Rinn, who sounds like a softer version of the screamers screamer himself, Mr Rob Halford.
 
The album 'Train of Life' wastes no time by plummeting us straight into the 'thud and blunder' title track which rumbles along nicely, sounding very Iron Maiden-esque in parts, and is the shortest track on the album, before giving way to the Georgian chant style opening of 'No Cross', which quickly slips into gear with some simple riffs from guitarist JJ Thiekling which knit the song together beautifully. This is an upbeat rocker reminiscent of some of The Scorpions earlier work.
 
'Just A Love-Song' is exactly that, a ballad with some beautiful acoustic work and silky vocals from Rinn, and is followed by 'First Love', which totally blows away any concept that this album is straight forward hard rock, with a jazz style humming and clapping intro, which fades out into a grungey riff that Sound Garden would be proud of, showing that versatility is this bands middle name (if they were to have one!!). A great tune, this track is a mish-mash of styles which quite frankly left me pleasantly surprised!
 
'End of A Nation' builds up into a mid-paced rock song, which also boasts some great guitar and keyboard work after its whispered opening. This track, according to the blurb with the release, deals with the fate of the Native Americans, and certainly boasts the best vocals of any track on the record.
 
'All of My Life' is an epic power ballad which begins with some uplifting vocals and a slow tempo, before bursting into a full orchestral sounding tune with a superb solo reminiscent of November Rain. The pace is quickly changed with the next track, 'Slave To The Machine', which is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. Boasting a brilliant catchy riff, this track is in the Aerosmith mould with just a hint of Iron Maiden influence, and a fantastic football crowd chant style chorus. Great stuff and again great vocals from Tommy Rinn.
 
The pace is slowed down for the ballad 'Hold My Hand', which is unusual in that it is sang by Tommy and his daughter, Melanie. A lush string arrangement is present throughout the song and shows that Melanie also follows in her fathers footsteps with a great voice.
 
'Night To Remember' is another heads down rocker which would surely be a dance-floor filler in the rock clubs if the band were better known, and has another one of those catchy riffs that keep appearing on this record, I could almost say that its a sleazy riff!!!
 
The album closer, 'Circle of Lies', with a running time of almost ten minutes, is the longest track on the album by far, and is a progressive piece which builds up from an orchestral intro and Rinn musing that he sometimes 'feels like a motherless child'. This merges into a marching drum beat which signals 'the calm before the storm', as we are warned, before great hypnotic chants and an almost thrashy style riff get brought into the equation. A track of many twists and turns, we are taken onto a musical journey which encompasses another brilliant solo and some solid drumming courtesy of Tim Dierks. Its probably fair to say that this track is also heavily influenced by Queensryche.
 
All in all, this is a top album which meshes together its various influences brilliantly, and has on it a fair few tunes that you'll be humming the riff to for a while!!

Tracklisting:

1. Train Of Life
2. No Cross
3. Just A Love Song
4. First Love
5. End Of A Nation
6. All Of My Life
7. Slave To The Machine
8. Hold My Hand
9. Night To Remember
10. Circle Of Lies 

                  

 

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