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.
- 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...
(Master review index >