BLAZE: The Rankings (Completed... At Last)

John Silver

Electric Buddy
I like the first three records BLAZE did - as a group. Later on it all went downhill. Plus Sneap is a pretty good producer and that helped them a lot.

I like Blood and Belief quite a bit so I'll start there.

My ratings:
Alive - 9/10
Ten Seconds - 8/10
Blood and Belief -9/10
Life and Death -7/10
Tearing Yourself to Pieces - 8/10
Hollow Head - 6/10
Will to Win -8/10
Regret - 9/10
The Path & the Way - 9/10
Soundtrack of My Life - 9/10
 

John Silver

Electric Buddy
Now, this had potential to be a big metal release for BLAZE. Alas, nothing really came of it, except a few middle aged guys now debating it on obscure heavy metal forums. Sigh. The association with Maiden actually turned out a curse for Bayley (as it did Di'Anno).

Silicon Messiah


Ghost in the Machine
- 10/10
Evolution - 9/10
Silicon Messiah - 9/10
Born as a Stranger - 9/10
The Hunger - 10/10
The Brave - 8/10
Identity - 9/10
Reach for the Horizon - 7/10
The Launch - 8/10
Stare at the Sun - 9/10
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Didn't I do that by posting here? What do you want me to submit buddy? My goddamn dignity or what.
If you look in the first post, there are nine different links there, one for each of Blaze's albums. By clicking them, you are taken to a form where you can vote using the ratings you've assigned the songs. I'll be using these forms when I compile the total list.
 

John Silver

Electric Buddy
Sorry, was taking the piss. Will do eventually. Is there a set deadline, cos I don't do fuckin deadlines, buddy.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
There is no set deadline, but October 5 is the earliest I'd close it. Depending on how many still wish to submit we can go on till November before it wraps up.
 

John Silver

Electric Buddy
The "in between two good ones" album, Tenth Dimension. Some really great tracks, but also some duds.

Forgotten Future - 5/10
Kill and Destroy - 9/10
End Dream - 9/10
The Tenth Dimension - 8/10
Nothing Will Stop Me - 6/10
Leap of Faith - 6/10
The Truth Revealed - 6/10
Meant To Be - 6/10
Land of the Blind - 6/10
Stealing Time - 7/10
Speed of Light - 7/10
Stranger to the Light - 8/10

Think I'll do The Man.. as well and then stop.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
BLAZE - Blood and Belief

  • Alive - If there is one thing that the three BLAZE albums have in common, it's incredibly strong openers (if you count "Kill and Destroy" as the proper one on Tenth...). If you don't feel like headbanging to this riff-fest, there's something seriously wrong with you! 9/10.
  • Ten Seconds - Another neat track with an interesting interplay between guitar and bass in the intro/main melody. It's not as strong as "Alive", but a great one-two punch to open the album. 8/10.
  • Blood and Belief - Blaze continues the tradition of placing the title track as the third proper song of the album. I'm not too sure about the clean parts in this one, but the main riff hits you like a truck and the chorus is absolutely HUGE. I'm also in love with the harmonized melody before the solos. Heck, it deserves a 10/10.
  • Life and Death - One of the more emotional pieces on the album, and a damn fine one. Blaze's singing in the chorus is phenomenal. 9/10.
  • Tearing Yourself to Pieces - After four incredibly strong tunes this one is a letdown. An uninspired melody/riff leads into a song that never really seems to go anywhere. 6/10.
  • Hollow Head - I think a lot of people aren't a fan of this song, but I actually like it. It's nothing special, just some good, heavy fun. 7/10.
  • Will to Win - This could've been one of the highlights of the album, but to me, it feels like it's missing something. Like a decent meal that lacks that truly special flavour. The verses are brilliant, the chorus is merely okay. 7/10.
  • Regret - Kinda like the previous one, this tune is enjoyable, but missing something unique that could elevate it above being just good. Another emotional piece, but feels a bit repetitive. 7/10.
  • The Path and the Way - Yeah, no. I hate that riff. Worst song on the album. 4/10.
  • Soundtrack of My Life - The album ends on a high note with this tune - incredibly heartfelt and haunting, with some powerful, mournful singing by Blaze. I feel like it should've been longer and maybe have had an extended instrumental part to truly be a masterpiece, though. Still, an 8/10.

Blood and Belief is the last album from the BLAZE-era, and with only half of the previous band still intact at this point, it was bound to fall apart eventually. You can definitely tell Blaze himself were facing some personal issues at the time - gone are the sci-fi futuristic tales, instead replaced by lyrics that reflect hard-fought personal struggles. All in all I don't find it as good as the first two album, especially due to its second half being a lot weaker than the first half. Still, it's a decent experience with a few songs that could be considered Blaze-classics today.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
No, it's just (in my opinion) a messy riff that feels out of place in the song. And the lyrics themselves suck. Definition of a mess.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
It's definitely a matter of taste, and I don't have anything particular against the lyrics. But that riff is an ungodly mess.
 

Jer

My sins are many
Masochism got the better of me, what can I say. Let's see how far I get.

Blaze - Silicon Messiah

  • Ghost In The Machine - Surprisingly heavy! Beefy guitars seem to work better with Blaze's voice. The verse and pre-chorus are pretty unfocused. Catchy chorus, but it feels too slow, and the vocal line is a little too similar to the guitar melody from the chorus of Iron Savior & Gamma Ray's "Watcher In The Sky" from 1997. Decent solo, iffy bridge. I will say that Blaze actually sounds really good on most of this track -- kudos to the producer. Unfortunately, most of the song is "meh", and a catchy but derivative chorus can't save it from a 5/10.
  • Evolution - I really don't like the rhythm guitarist's choices with the riffs. Verse is OK. Pre-chorus is sort of catchy, but has weird phrasing and obvious vocal cut & paste. WTF is with this non-chorus ("the evolu-u-tion")? The solo sounds like an outtake from Kirk Hammett's wah-laden Black Album sessions, and the final groove feels like they're trying to be Metallica and failing. 4/10.
  • Silicon Messiah - Nice clean intro. Unfortunately, sleepy off-key Blaze has returned. Hmm, this vocal melody is straight out of Yngwie Malmsteen's "Disciples Of Hell", while the descending guitar bit is right out of Queensrÿche's "Spreading The Disease". The vocal harmonies on the chorus are genuinely interesting, but the phrasing has issues. This repetitive guitar break in the middle is not working for me. Pretty sweet solo, though. I'll be nice and say 5/10.
  • Born As A Stranger - Nice harmonized crunch. WTF, now it's a complete rehash of "Man On The Edge" on the verse, right down to the bad phrasing! Pre-chorus is a little better. Oh hey, the chorus is pretty good, though Blaze misses some of the notes. I like this guitar break in the middle, though Blaze's whoah-ohs are predictably off-key. Sweet solos, too. Nice outro. This had some of the raw materials to be a great song, but blatant rehashing and performance issues got in the way. 6/10.
  • The Hunger - Another nice clean intro, but Blaze is totally off the notes here. Nice crunchy part. Off-key Blaze is back, and the phrasing sucks. The pre-chorus ("living on the outside") is OK. The queasy part in the middle is interesting. Decent solo. The vocal bridge would be pretty strong if Blaze's timbre was consistent, but it's not. Hmm, I guess that "ruled by the hunger" part after the pre-chorus was supposed to be the chorus? Great, now the outro is ripping off the outro of Queensrÿche's "I Don't Believe In Love". Sigh. 5/10.
  • The Brave - Now there's a fucking riff! Blaze doesn't sound very good on the low notes, but he sounds a lot better when he takes it higher on the second part of the verse. The pre-chorus and chorus are decent, but not great. Good solos. Let's call it a robust 6/10.
  • Identity - Another nice clean intro, another sleepy off-key vocal. Not a fan of the phrasing. Ooh, that was a nice riff they snuck in under the pre-chorus! The chorus kinda sucks, though. Blaze really whiffs some of these notes, too. The wah in the interlude sounds like "why? why? why?", which is unfortunately apropos. Pretty good solos. Nice atmospheric break, and Blaze actually sounds pretty good on that part, but then it's back to the bad singing and phrasing. There are a few nicer parts hiding in here, but the worse stuff drags it down to a 4/10.
  • Reach For The Horizon - Another nice clean bit that alternates with a heavier riff. Blaze actually sounds pretty good here. The verse is good, but the pre-chorus is so-so and the chorus doesn't go anywhere. Terrible phrasing in some parts. Hmm, I don't know about this talk box solo, but the second one is pretty good. Softer outro. If the chorus had been better I would have gone a little higher, but as it stands it's a 5/10.
  • The Launch - Hmm, this harmonized bit sounds like early Maiden. Oh fuck, the verse is "Man On The Edge" again! Goddamn it. The chorus is underwhelming. Great solo followed by a good one. Blaze is out of key again. This is just sad. 4/10.
  • Stare At The Sun - Another nice clean intro with some tasteful melodic leads. Blaze sounds pretty good here. Nice build-up through the opening section. I like the thick harmonized guitars kicking into the heavy, catchy verse! Unfortunately Blaze is getting off-key again in the pre-chorus, and the chorus is really weak. A pretty good pair of solos, followed by a couple of excellent ones on top of great harmonized rhythm guitars! (That was probably the best moment on the album right there.) More weak chorus leads back to an intro reprise to finish things off. There are some moments of brilliance here, but the pre-chorus and chorus drag the whole thing down. 6/10.
Album average: 5.0/10, right in between my ratings for The X Factor and Virtual XI. Blaze has the same issues with vocal performance and phrasing that he did during his time in Maiden, and the songs bounce around between so-so original parts and blatant rehash, with a handful of stronger moments peppered throughout. "Born As A Stranger", "The Brave", and "Stare At The Sun" acquit themselves the best out of this batch.

If this is one of Blaze's best solo efforts, I'm kind of scared of what's to come. :huh:

Bonus tracks:
  • The Day I Fell To Earth - Nice riff! Verse is OK. Pre-chorus reminds me too much of "Sanctuary". Chorus is OK. Blaze misses the notes in a few spots. The harmonized guitar bit is kind of rote. First solo is great, second one is good. I don't think this song is particularly strong, but overall it's on par with the best songs on the album. 6/10.
  • Motherfuckers R Us - So-so main riff and verse, but the chorus is significantly better. Great solos! Stupid lyrics, but you already knew that was coming from the title. I think this has enough charm to round it up to 6/10.
Kind of sad that the bonus tracks are better than most of the album tracks...
 
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Confeos

Game time started.
Blaze Bayley - The Man Who Would Not Die

  • The Man Who Would Not Die - Immediately from the get-go it's obvious that we're dealing with a different band than before, with a different sound than that of the BLAZE-era. The opener is energetic as always, and I can't help but being very fascinated with Blaze's performance here. It's raw and unpolished, and certainly not his finest hour, but there's so much passion and power it that I get goosebumps anyway. This is a man believing in every little word he sings! Musically, it's kinda middle-of-the-road-stuff, but Blaze alone makes it an 8/10 in my book.
  • Blackmailer - similar in many ways to the previous track, I'm a fan of the harmonies on this one. I also dig the rhythm guitars in most parts, though at times they feel a bit out of sync - maybe that's just because of the production. In any case, a 7/10.
  • Smile Back at Death - a very simple but very powerful riff opens this one, and Blaze basically takes us on a journey through the movie Gladiator. Definitely one of the best songs on the album, everything seems to fit very well together. Favourite moment is the middle part, where the band slows down and Blaze narrates as if he's standing right in the Colosseum himself. Great song. 9/10.
  • While You Were Gone - obviously a very personal song for Blaze, this one could've felt right at home on the Blood and Belief-album. The moody feel throughout is done well, but Blaze's perfomance is a bit hit-and-miss - amazing at times, lacking at others. 7/10.
  • Samurai - a cool bass-intro that reminds me of Symphony X's "Domination" and a great chorus is what I find most memorable about this tune. 7/10.
  • Crack in the System - the main, harmonic minor riff is pretty interesting, but the rest of the song "just" good. It drags on too long in places and could've been shorter, I think. Yet another 7/10.
  • Robot - well. Don't think that I have anything against the shorter, faster tracks, but just like "The Launch" from the debut, this is pretty uninteresting. The chorus is outright bad. 6/10.
  • At the End of the Day - ah, this is better. Again a very moody song with simple but well-done riffs, and a good performance from Blaze. Somehow the lyrics really resonate with me too. 8/10.
  • Waiting for My Life to Begin - Strange intro, but it actually progresses into a very nice tune. The chorus is definitely the highlight of this one. 8/10.
  • Voices from the Past - Yes! Finally! Great intro, cool interplay between the band, good melodies, and strong verses and choruses. Perfect song from start to finish! 10/10.
  • The Truth is One - Aaand we're back to average. This one never did much for me tbh. It's not bad, not great, it's just... there. 6/10.
  • Serpent Hearted Man - Again, not a very memorable track, but still decent. A bit better than the previous one and works well as an album closer. 7/10.

I remember being very excited when TMWWND was released back in the day, just because I'd been following the split of the BLAZE-lineup and heard about Blaze's personal problems. Finally getting some new music from him was almost a relief! My joy has cooled a bit since then, and I think the album all in all belongs firmly in the middle of the rankings. It only has a few truly great songs, but no real stinkers either. A solid comeback after years of turmoil.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Smile Back at Death - a very simple but very powerful riff opens this one, and Blaze basically takes us on a journey through the movie Gladiator. Definitely one of the best songs on the album, everything seems to fit very well together. Favourite moment is the middle part, where the band slows down and Blaze narrates as if he's standing right in the Colosseum himself. Great song. 9/10.
I was about to praise this part as well! So powerful. Such a haunting, threatening calm guitar and then that distorted guitar and bass drum beat join. Possibly the best moment of the whole album.
 
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Jer

My sins are many
Blaze - Tenth Dimension
  • Forgotten Future - Some vaguely industrial atmospherics. 5/10, I guess, since there isn't much here.
  • Kill And Destroy - Nice beefy riff. Not a big fan of the vocal melodies on the verse and pre-chorus, but the chorus is catchy enough. OK melodic break, at least until the weird harmonized bit. Has an OK solo followed by a better one. Some weird vocal harmonies here. Uneven overall, but I think it has enough juice to claim a 6/10.
  • End Dream - The opening groove gets more interesting when it starts harmonizing, but that doesn't last long. Blaze doesn't sound very good here, and the guitars got more boring. Bad phrasing. This chorus is a mess, and Blaze keeps missing notes. The bridge ("is this a dream world") is just bad. Ooh, the solo section is good, but then we're back into the muck. Not good overall. 4/10.
  • The Tenth Dimension - A heavy palm muted groove breaks into a nice uptempo riff. The softer bass-accented section is pretty good, and it gets better when it gets heavier. Ooh, I like this chorus. Weird vocal harmonies, but I like 'em! Hey, this bridge is really good too! Maybe the first "whoah-oh" section I've heard Blaze do where he hits all the notes. The song hits the brakes and we get a soft, spooky section. Blaze sounds surprisingly good here. More good "whoah-ohs" -- what's going on here? Odd spoken word bit, then a great solo followed by a good one. More chorus and bridge and a tasteful harmonized section before an abrupt ending. This is definitely the best song I've heard in Blaze's solo discography so far, a very robust 7/10. Almost great.
  • Nothing Will Stop Me - Nice softer opening. Blaze sounds pretty good here. This steps up in heaviness for another verse round. The pre-chorus is a bit weird, and the chorus is a strangely sparse mess. Nice harmonized guitar section punctuated by an OK solo. Interesting vocal outro. I think there's enough meat here to eke out a 6/10.
  • Leap Of Faith - An ascending melodic lead breaks into a driving verse. Blaze is off key again with bad phrasing. The pre-chorus is better, but the chorus is cheesy as shit. A pair of great solos followed by a nice harmonized section. Back to the icky verse, then another round through the pre-chorus and cheesy chorus. A very mixed bag, but I think I'd still round it up to 6/10.
  • The Truth Revealed - Nice acoustic riff! Blaze sounds a little shaky at first, but recovers nicely. Very nice electric leads. This is really just a little bridge between two other songs, but it's done really well. I feel like it deserves an 8/10 for what it is, but it's not really a song on its own.
  • Meant To Be - The previous track bleeds into a clean opening for this one. Blaze actually sounds nice on the soft parts here, but as the tension builds up he gets less controlled and starts to miss notes. Ooh, the pre-chorus is nice! I like the vocal harmonies here. Hey, neat female choir! Great melodic solo! The bridge is a bit weaker with some more missed notes, but Blaze recovers in the chorus reprise. More female choir and some strings carry us through an extended outro. There are a few weaknesses here, but so much works so well that I think this one deserves an 8/10. Best one so far.
  • Land Of The Blind - A nice groovy, heavy riff, and then...WTF is this? Random bass plucking and a weak spoken word part from Blaze. This breaks into a weak verse, a better pre-chorus, and a barely OK chorus. The bridge is OK, and the solos are decent, but then we're back to that WTF section. Very mixed bag, 5/10.
  • Stealing Time - Cool piercing lead that harmonizes nicely later on. Weaker semi-spoken part, poorly controlled singing on the verse and pre-chorus. Weird, spacey chorus, but I kind of like it. Weird bridge with interesting harmonies. Good interlude and a strong solo. Finishes on a chorus reprise. This is kind of an oddball, but I think it does enough to merit a 6/10.
  • Speed Of Light - Sweet riff! Nice harmonized leads. Not sold on the verse vocals, but the queasy pre-chorus is cool. Unfortunately the chorus vocals are a poorly phrased mess. Back to the verse and Blaze is missing the notes again. Great solo followed by an OK one. Another round of verse through chorus and the song quickly ends. What a shame that Blaze took such a strong guitar foundation and managed to crap all over it with subpar singing and phrasing! I can't go any higher than 6/10.
  • Stranger To The Light - A creepy clean intro breaks into a beefy midtempo riff with some nice harmonization. Blaze sounds good here. The chorus is unfortunately repetitive and underwhelming. Nice melodic solo. The variant chorus later on works better than the original. Hey, I like the "Tenth Dimension" reprise they snuck in there! I like this bluesier take on the main riff in the second half of the song, too. In the end I think this one does enough to merit a 7/10.
This one's definitely a step up from Silicon Messiah overall IMO, with an album average rating of 6.2/10, which puts it above both of Blaze's Maiden albums, the Iron Maiden self-titled album, and Fear Of The Dark in my book.

"Meant To Be" and "The Tenth Dimension" are the major highlights here, and "The Truth Revealed" and "Stranger To The Light" also stand out from the pack. "End Dream" is the only real stinker.

Hopefully this is a trend and the albums will continue to improve...?

Bonus track:
  • Living Someone Else's Life - An odd opening breaks into a simple but appealing riff. Weird verse vocal whose melody doesn't fit the riff, and Blaze doesn't sound very good here. The chorus is noticeably better, though still merely good. Great solos. Weird bridge. In the end I think there are just enough good parts to keep this from falling below a 5/10.
 
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