When Ian Toomey first took to making music in 1980 with post-punk band Bitches Sin, he never anticipated some 38 years later he’d still be in the studio producing new material as a solo artist who has seen and done it all.
Classic rock runs rife in his solo album Masters Of Light and isn’t a sound we get a lot of these days. But it’s a sound that brings a lot of enjoyment when it’s done well, and it’s the sound that makes Ian Toomey want to keep on keeping on.
Totally superior to its predecessor, the second album of the veteran British guitarist contains more variety and solidity that shows its musical diversity. An honest work that registered in the old fashioned way with all the force and chemistry of the direct in studio. Result; passion and energy. The guitars are back to a higher level, drawing melodies and solos as exhibited in 'Only Words', a homage to the great Gary Moore, or a sublime guitar like 'Too Many Goodbyes'. Great interpretation by David A. Mills, whose voice is a clear example of British style; hard / heavy. Reminiscences to Rush and Metallica in 'Underground' and 'Devil's Chord', Led Zeppelin in 'The Priest' or UFO in 'Another World'.
This is the guitar player of Bitches Sin and wow what a freakin rock/metal release this is. From the 1st note to the last you will have that fist up in the air I assure you. This is just plain ass kickin rock n roll the way it used to sound back in the 80’s and now it is sounding that way in 2016. Bands these days have all that crappy groove or happy riffing in their music and this doesn’t, and I know it wouldn’t, and this sure does not disappoint. The production from Chris Tsangarides is right on the money and the vocals are perfect, like a tight pair of pants, and if you like classic rock n roll, and by that I mean real classic rock n roll this is a must have.
In August 1980 Ian Toomey first stepped into a recording studio with Bitches Sin, the band he’d formed with his brother Peter when he’d come to the conclusion that no-one would ever really deliver the album that he wanted to hear. Almost thirty-five years to the day later the guitarist was back in the studio once more, working again with his long-term friends and collaborators Steve Turton (drums), David A Mills (vocals) and producer extraordinaire Chris Tsangarides. The result of these recordings is Toomey’s second solo album ‘Masters Of Light’, a distinctive and cohesive set of songs which once again demonstrate the diversity of Toomey’s musical point of view. As with his previous solo release ‘Ascension’, on ‘Masters Of Light’ Toomey has allowed himself to visit places musically that, to him at least, were previously uncharted. It’s as if, no longer confined by the (possibly self-imposed) restrictions or expectations of writing purely within the confines of Bitches Sin, he’s allowed himself to stretch out and from an almost iconoclastic viewpoint dictate a modern day rock (rather than metal) manifesto.
Gotta love this CD, whether you will or you won’t. The new solo CD by IAN TOOMEY is a true beauty and I think it’s by far his best release ever.
It contains eight songs, but there are no fillers just killers on there. Ian walked a road of thirty-five years to a temple of learning. He feels that with this album he has reached an important milestone in his life. What has been required of him has been completed. The questions he had in his life have been answered and he closes an important chapter with this album. After a journey of thirty-five years, he is inside the temple. Every year floats away on this silver disc in about one full minute. The total playing time is a very intense thirty-five minutes (well, maybe a few seconds more).
Hairy Bikers Dave and Si liked the new 'Ascension' album so much they played it on the 'Hairy Rock Show' on Planet Rock radio.
Featured track was 'Very Soon Everyone's Leaving'... watch this space for more plays in the future!
If you’re a fan of old-school NWOBHM you’ll know Bitches Sin and of source their lead guitarist Ian Toomey; ‘Ascension’ is his debut solo album. A lot of passion and though has gone into the writing and recording of this album and that does shine through as you’re listening to it. Toomey also says that much of the album is deeply personal to him with many of the tracks being autobiographical in nature which adds a lot of intrigue as you listen to it through for the first time.
It’s a genre crossing album too as while there is a strong NWOBHM feel across the album with a couple of tunes feeling like they just arrived via time machine, there is also a strong Classic Rock vibe too. Some of this is down to the vocals of David A. Mills who brings a bit of Blues gravel to the mix and his vocals are not stereotypical of what you’d expect from your average NWOBHM band.
Following the interest generated by a clutch of solo singles, Bitches Sin frontman Ian Toomey takes the plunge with his first solo album. Unlike Bitches Sin where the idea of having the material prepped before recording was the modus operandi, ‘Ascension’ was approached differently. Written in the studio and backed by the modern day BS line-up, including the legendary producer Chris Tsangarides who also added his musical weight, it’s a collection of no-frills hard rock songs of which the stomping bluesy ‘Survivor’ is the pick. Written around the theme of death and resurrection, and containing elements of an autobiographical nature, it comes across almost as a release of energy and of a life philosophy. Some lyrics are deeply personal, digging deep and referring to particular events and experiences, in particular the title track; live sounding and riff laden from the impact of using as few takes as possible to get the tracks down, it cuts to the chase without wasting time of energy.
Whether of not this is a Toomey album of a BS album might well be up for debate, as on paper all the elements might suggest it points to the latter, yet having been on ice for a number of years, it makes sense to capitalise on the realisation of the single releases and highlight the name of Ian Toomey.
The Spanish magazine 'This is Rock' reviewed the latest Ian Toomey Album Ascension in its October 2015 issue;
Apologies for the rough translation:
"British NWOBHM legend launches solo with an album whose intention is to return to that magical period of the 80s. Varied, energetic and well executed it has excellent production by Chris Tsangarides, who also handles the keyboard work, stunning guitar and a perfect singer who plays hard and with emotion. Hard songs and catchy chorus melodies are addictive such as 'Bad Blood', which is reminiscent of Bad Company. Traditional Heavy Rock is evident in 'Superman', with power and melody delivered by a brutal guitar. The catchy 'Very soon leaving everyones' is almost perfect, and to close the disc, a touch of doom in the title theme which is reminiscent of Black Sabbath.
German metal magazine 'Rock Hard' reviewed Ascension. With apologies to all German speakers here is a very rough translation:
"By way of a series of digital singles, Ian TOOMEY, singer of the NWOBHM band Bitches Sin has paved the way for his solo album "Ascension" that has just been published. The guitarist has not made any big experiments, but the complete current Bitches Sin cast has gone together into the studio, and with Chris Tsangarides fine fingers on the buttons this was unleashed. The disc ranks somewhere between blues rock, 1970 Mücke and NWOBHM, and Ian, especially with his guitar work shines."
IAN TOOMEY 'Ascension' (ITE) Release Date: September 4th 2015
Read the original review by Brian Boyle on MetalTalk.net here or read on:
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.
Ian Toomey, UK Rock guitarist