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

Confeos

Game time started.
@Jer, we may disagree on some parts, but overall I'm glad Tenth Dimension is given the recognition it deserves :) I adore Silicon Messiah, but I've always felt I've been in a minority when I think the follow-up is his strongest effort overall. I'm curious to see how you rank the other albums!
 
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Forostar

Ancient Mariner
@Jer, I'm glad Tenth Dimension is given the recognition it deserves :)
I heavily doubt that. After almost literally every positive comment (or at least 8 out of 10 times), Jer gives a negative one, and/or a not very good or bad grade. It feels as if every positive thing needs to be downplayed immediately. It is is hardly just positive. This is judged with a downright negative view on Blaze's abilities. What recognition? I am reading negative reviews.

That said, I am glad Jer took the time and effort to listen to and write about this material.
 
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Jer

My sins are many
It feels as if every positive thing needs to be downplayed immediately. It is is hardly just positive. This is judged with a downright negative view on Blaze's abilities. What recognition? I am reading negative reviews.
Just giving my honest opinion. Blaze has problems with maintaining his tone and hitting notes successfully. When he's able to maintain control he can sound great, but he has chronic problems with this. I don't see the point in trying to ignore that.

I also gave a few tracks on Tenth Dimension ratings on par with Blaze's best work in Iron Maiden, and pointed out that Tenth Dimension got a higher overall ranking from me than the bottom quarter of Maiden's discography, which includes Blaze's two albums with them. So while it's not overwhelming praise, it is a relatively positive commentary.

That said, I am glad Jer took the time and effort to listen to and write about this material.
Thanks.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
I heavily doubt that. After almost literally every positive comment (or at least 8 out of 10 times), Jer gives a negative one, and/or a not very good or bad grade. It feels as if every positive thing needs to be downplayed immediately. It is is hardly just positive. This is judged with a downright negative view on Blaze's abilities. What recognition? I am reading negative reviews.

That said, I am glad Jer took the time and effort to listen to and write about this material.

Hence the "we disagree" at the start of my post. What I meant was that I usually find it rare that someone prefers Tenth to Silicon, which - despite the negative aspects of the review - I couldn't help but like.
 

GhostofCain

Ancient Mariner
Just giving my honest opinion. Blaze has problems with maintaining his tone and hitting notes successfully. When he's able to maintain control he can sound great, but he has chronic problems with this. I don't see the point in trying to ignore that.

True. I am glad you are taking the time to listen to his solo albums too.
 

Jer

My sins are many
Blaze - Blood & Belief
  • Alive - Nice beefy opening riff! Hmm, Blaze is singing way higher than usual and sounds really odd. Very frog-in-throat for some reason. Pre-chorus is better, with nice riff fills. The chorus is so-so except for the riff, but it's more guitar-driven than vocal driven. Ooh, nice softer bridge. I would have gone higher if the vocal performance was better, but as it stands it's a 6/10.
  • Ten Seconds - Nice palm muted melodic lead that breaks into a cool driving riff. Decent verse, pretty good pre-chorus. Hmm, I don't know about the chorus -- the "ten, ten seconds" part is cheesy, but the rest is sort of catchy. (Aw geez, is this song based on The Fast And The Furious? Oh well.) A pretty good solo followed by a great melodic lead. I'm not totally sold on this one, but I think it does enough to eke out a 7/10.
  • Blood And Belief - I like the harmonized guitars here. Ooh, unexpected soft part -- Blaze sounds nice on it. Back to the riffage, but this verse is kind of unfocused. Eww, the pre-chorus vocal melody clashes with the guitar melody and Blaze sounds really uncontrolled there. The chorus is better, but it's not as catchy as it seems to think it is. OK interlude followed by a pretty good solo and a very good harmonized part. Very nice reprise of the soft part. Another round of verse through chorus, and the chorus seems to work a bit better this time around. A couple of brilliant moments here, but the verse and pre-chorus are mediocre to bad. Going to have to round this one down to 5/10.
  • Life And Death - Another nice harmonized riff. Nice clean guitar and soft verse where Blaze sounds really good. This builds up through an OK pre-chorus, but Blaze misses a note or two and his tone is a little weird there. Nice catchy chorus, though the vocal tone is still a little weird and uneven there. Very nice harmonized interlude punctuated by some fat leads. Blaze sounds more uneven on the final reprise of the soft verse. Nice final choruses and a classy denouement. There are a few performance issues with this one, but overall I think it deserves to be rounded up to an 8/10.
  • Tearing Yourself To Pieces - A queasy, reverby intro builds into the main riff. I like the off-kilter feel. Blaze sounds good in the opening, but has some control issues during the verse. Pretty good pre-chorus, but I'm not really a fan of the chorus ("tell yourself a lie"). An OK first solo breaks into a much better second one. Ooh, I like the vocal harmonies on the final verse. Nice extended outro. A solid 7/10.
  • Hollow Head - Decent beefy riff. I like the feel of the band during the verse, but I'm not as fond of the loose feel of the vocals there. Hmm, I don't like the pre-chorus, and Blaze sounds like complete shit from the end of the pre-chorus through the chorus. I get what he's going for with the loose vocal delivery here, but it sounds terrible. Decent heavy interlude, but the echoing "hollow head" part isn't so hot. More shitty chorus, ugh. I can't believe this was the single. 3/10.
  • Will To Win - Pretty good driving riff. Blaze is off key again, but the verse is OK otherwise. So-so pre-chorus. The chorus is decent, but kind of cheesy. There are a few badly whiffed notes here. The aggressive bridge is pretty good, as is the harmonized interlude that leads into a strong pair of solos. Decent quick ending. More performance issues here, but this gets enough done for a 6/10.
  • Regret - Nice clean opening with tasteful bass accompaniment. Sleepy off-key Blaze returns, unfortunately. Ooh, nice harmonized rhythm guitar with a great lead! Strong verse with strong vocals. Pretty good pre-chorus, though the vocals are more uneven there. Ooh, I like the chorus quite a bit except for the phrasing -- if he'd just sung "the man that I could be" instead of "the man I could be" it would have worked so much better. Another round of verse through chorus and we get a great little interlude that breaks into a pretty good series of solos. In the end I think the stronger parts outweigh the weaker ones. A robust 7/10.
  • The Path & The Way - Hmm, that riff starts off as kind of a mess, but it smooths out a bit over time. Nice clean section with a nice vocal from Blaze. The pre-chorus is less focused and has some missed notes. Ew, the chorus is just some droning on top of that iffy riff. Oh, I guess there's ultimately a chorus 2 which is much more melodic and successful. Nice solos. Hmm, I guess this one has enough positive elements to salvage a 5/10.
  • Soundtrack Of My Life - Another nice clean opening. Reminds me of something else, but I can't place it right now. Tasteful electric lead. Nice subdued vocal. Ooh, I like the harmonized palm muted lead! This breaks into a simple but appealing riff. Blaze sounds pretty good on the verse. The chorus is underwhelming. Very nice harmonized interlude and a strong solo. Nice outro. If the chorus had been better I would have gone higher, but what's here is worth a 7/10.
I rated half the songs on Blood & Belief at 7/10 or higher, but the lower scores on the rest of the album brought it down to a 6.1/10 average score in the end. (If "Hollow Head" hadn't been such a steaming pile then the album would have edged out Tenth Dimension.)

I guess this was the end of the road for the "Blaze" incarnation of the band. They started off with a lot of blatant cribbing/homage on Silicon Messiah, but gradually developed more of their own sound. I think if they'd focused more on the thrashy riffs and thick harmonized rhythm guitars rather than the more nu-metal stylings they would have had better and more consistent results; but they still managed to crank out several good songs and a few great ones.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I can't believe that you, the Blaze vocal disliker, actually likes "Life and Death", which has one of Blaze's actually bad moments in it. ("Is it LIIIYIIFFFF and death to you?")
 

Jer

My sins are many
I can't believe that you, the Blaze vocal disliker, actually likes "Life and Death", which has one of Blaze's actually bad moments in it. ("Is it LIIIYIIFFFF and death to you?")
Well, Blaze always has a little bit of that frog-in-throat quality to his singing. I guess in "Life And Death" it's at least consistently applied and sounds natural and emotive for him, rather than coming and going and just sounding like bad technique.

I forgot to mention that I actually felt a little guilty listening to the lyrics on Blood & Belief, because it's pretty clear that Blaze was emotionally scarred by the Maiden experience and all the criticism he received. At the same time, he put himself out there on the public stage knowing full well that he and his work would be judged by millions, so my guilt has its limits. :p

(I've tried to keep my criticism fair, though I've lapsed into possibly mean-spirited hyperbole a few times...)
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I think the key thing about Blaze is that he's a very sensitive fellow, but at the same time isn't one to give up. He could have quit entirely after being kicked out of Maiden, but instead he gave us a solo career which many would say is actually better. From what I've heard, he's also struggled with depression and other mental health stuff, so he's been able to use music to channel some of that.

At the end of the day, I think he really loves doing what he's doing and even if his voice really is terrible - which I do disagree with - he does at least put all his effort into it. Maybe the result is lackluster - again, I disagree with that - but one can always admire someone who does put passion in their work. Blaze has that passion.

Sure, at times he may be wrong in his estimations - being kicked out of Maiden was really all down to him and the band, not any business decision (or at least that wasn't a major part) - but he's doing what he loves and he's racked up a loyal fanbase who supports him in what he does and you can tell he loves his fans a lot too.

All-round a great guy. Like his vocals or not, he's a genuine specimen of a human being with heart and soul.
 

GhostofCain

Ancient Mariner
BLAZE BAYLEY - The King of Metal

The King of Metal
- 3/10
Dimebag - 3/10
The Black Country - 3/10
The Rainbow Fades to Black - 3/10
Fate - 3/10
One More Step - 3/10
Fighter - 2/10
Judge Me - 2/10
Difficult - 6/10
Beginning - 4/10

I had enjoyed most of Blaze's solo albums and their high and lows up until this point, but found The King of Metal to be incredibly mediocre to put it mildly. Listening again to the album has reinforced my opinion from back when it was released: do not waste your time with it again. Very poor.

BLAZE BAYLEY - Soundtracks of My Life

Russian Holiday - 4/10
Hatred - 4/10
Eating Children - 5/10

A slight improvement over the material off The King of Metal, but in my humble opinion still disappointing.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
BLAZE BAYLEY - The Man Who Would Not Die

The Man Who Would Not Die
- 9/10
Blackmailer - 8/10
Smile Back at Death - 9/10
While You Were Gone - 8/10
Samurai - 10/10
Crack in the System - 8/10
Robot - 9/10
At the End of the Day - 8/10
Waiting for My Life to Begin - 7/10
Voices from the Past - 7/10
The Truth Is One - 6/10
Serpent Hearted Man - 6/10
 

Jer

My sins are many
Blaze Bayley - The Man Who Would Not Die
  • The Man Who Would Not Die - Good aggressive riff. Sounds like the new guitar players are going for a '90s In Flames vibe, which is cool. Eww, Blaze's vocals are all over the place on the verse and pre-chorus -- constant tone and note problems. He sounds good on the brief chorus, though. Cool aggressive interlude followed by a nice melodic one, then a strong solo. The musical backbone of this song is very solid, but Blaze's vocals are unusually bad here, so I can't go above a 6/10.
  • Blackmailer - Cool, aggressive melodic lead. Blaze is still missing notes here, but he sounds a lot better than on the previous song. The pre-chorus has a strong Megadeth feel, but the vocals are still weak. The chorus is questionable, bordering on "WTF?", since the start of each vocal is all over the place before he regains control. Nice harmonized break! Love the neoclassical harmonized solo afterward! The "whoah-ohs" are pretty decent here. Quick, strong ending. The music here is great, but the vocals have some serious issues, chopping this down to a 7/10.
  • Smile Back At Death - A simple but aggressive rhythm kicks this off with a nice melodic lead. Blaze sounds much better here. Strong verse, still giving that In Flames feel. The sparse pre-chorus is a bit odd, and Blaze misses a note or two on it. Choruses 1 and 2 ("gladiator, protector") are OK, though the vocals are a bit uncontrolled through those sections. Nice softer interlude, though Blaze sounds a little weird on the whispery part. The louder section is a bit uneven, but the final extended vocal note sounds great. Really strong solo, love the neoclassical stylings! Nice punchy finish. Another song with great music that's brought down a bit by vocal performance issues. A robust 7/10.
  • While You Were Gone - More In Flames style riffing. Ooh, nice soft section! Blaze sounds good here. Lyrics are kinda cheesy. Nice long note! The more aggressive verse sounds good. Pretty strong pre-chorus. Great melodic solo! I really like this extended guitar interlude. Damn, Blaze actually sounds great here! Very nice reprise of the soft section to end the song. OK, Blaze, you officially kicked my ass with this one! 9/10.
  • Samurai - Cool aggressive intro. Eww, Blaze is sounding pretty bad again, vocals all over the place. Verse and pre-chorus are so-so. The chorus is sparse and oddly rhythmed, and the only part that totally works is the "samurai" in the middle. These lyrics are really cheesy, giving me bad flashbacks to Europe's "Ninja". Ooh, I really like the melodic guitar fill right after the chorus. Good aggressive break with a nice melodic lead. The bridge is half good, half cheesy. Another nice interlude and a strong solo, followed by a weaker one. Not totally sold on the "whoah-oh" section, but it's better than most of his attempts. I like the upward modulation on the final chorus. Another song with great music, but significant vocal performance problems. As a result I can't go above a 6/10.
  • Crack In The System - WTF is this? Uninspiring guitars, directionless vocal melodies, weak vocal performance, terrible phrasing ("a CATCH twen-TY-two SYS-tem"), too much repetition. OK, the bridge and the solo are pretty strong. This outro really overstays its welcome, though. Blecch. 4/10.
  • Robot - Geez, these guys really love In Flames! The verse is pretty decent, but this Popeye chorus sucks. Sweet melodic interlude with a nice solo, but then it's back to that sucky chorus. Somebody get this man a can of spinach! I think, therefore I can't give this song more than a 5/10. (Why does he always seem to pick bad songs for the single?)
  • At The End Of The Day - Nice clean intro. Blaze is missing notes again. The verse is so-so, but the chorus is better. I really like the harmonized rhythm under the solo, as well as the solo itself. I'll be kind and round this up to a 6/10.
  • Waiting For My Life To Begin - Nice aggressive, melodic riff. WTF is with these lyrics and the disconnected verse? The chorus is much better, but the phrasing kinda stinks. Eww, some badly missed notes here. Decent harmonized interlude, very good solo. OK rhythmic break, good second solo. Another decent harmonized section. The strength of the music salvages a 5/10 here.
  • Voices From The Past - A nice plaintive melodic lead on top of strong rhythm work. Unexpected soft section. Blaze sounds so-so here. Chorus 1 and 2 are almost good, but Blaze is missing notes left and right. Nice heavy harmonized interlude! Strong solo. More out-of-tune chorus. So painful. Once again, I would have rated lower, but the relative strength of the music salvages a 5/10 rating.
  • The Truth Is One - Bad phrasing. Bad verse, bad pre-chorus, decent chorus with bad lyrics. The guitar work underneath is OK. Ugh, Blaze is missing lots of notes on the second round through the chorus. Semi-cool interlude with a strong pair of solos. Blaze totally botches one of the long notes he tries to hold near the end. I would have gone lower, but the music had enough going for it to hold the line at 4/10.
  • Serpent Hearted Man - Interesting clean eastern lead. Sleepy, off-key Blaze is back. The heaviness kicks in and we get some more shitty phrasing. "Meh" verse, so-so chorus. Nice harmonized In Flames interlude. Cool solo! Another verse with bad phrasing and missed notes. Now he's whiffing more notes in the chorus too. The "guiding the path" parts don't sound good. The wind-down wishes it was "Powerslave". Blaze inexplicably ends the album with a final off-key whisper. Ugh. 4/10.
This album started off with some serious promise, including the best Blaze song I've heard to date ("While You Were Gone"); but about halfway through, the quality fell off a cliff and never recovered. My album average score was 5.7/10, which is still just above Blaze's Maiden albums and Silicon Messiah, but below Tenth Dimension and Blood & Belief.

Blaze's new band is pretty strong -- the mix of In Flames and some neoclassical elements is a potent combo. For a number of songs the band was the star of the show and Blaze was the element bringing them down, which was kind of sad in a way. The production on this album was also a noticeable step down from the previous three.

It was great to see the stars finally align to have Blaze deliver one truly kick-ass song in "While You Were Gone". Unfortunately he didn't control his voice anywhere near as well on most of the other tracks. If he had, the whole first half of this album could have been great. But as it stands, "While You Were Gone", "Smile Back At Death", and "Blackmailer" are the stars of the show, IMO.
 
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Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I'm enjoying your Blaze reviews far more than I expected I would. Keep it up! Can't wait to see if there's a song that'll take a full-on 10/10. :)
 
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Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
terrible phrasing ("a CATCH twen-TY-two SYS-tem")
Also: I agree with this. Normally I love the weird ways in which Blaze sings the lines. As someone who has always striven to have a good understanding of the English language and typically does well in that area, the way that Blaze usually sings the lines, so completely different than anyone else does - I actually love it; I don't know how many times he's made me look at simple words in a whole new light, and helped me appreciate them better.

But... not in this song. I couldn't make excuses for it if I wanted.
 

Lampwick 43

Covid Warrior
Will this be staying open for a bit? I've been busy with stuff and still haven't even started the first album yet. :oops:
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Will this be staying open for a bit? I've been busy with stuff and still haven't even started the first album yet. :oops:
Most emphatically yes! I still have four albums left to go myself, and I'm definitely keeping a wide open window because I know you and @Number 6 wanted to go through the entire discography as well. You've got as much time as you need to complete this. Just let me know if and when you need extra. :)
 

Confeos

Game time started.
Blaze Bayley - Promise and Terror

  • Watching the Night Sky - Well, I feel like typing the same stuff in every album review, but, honestly, every Blaze record has a decent opener - "Watching the Night Sky" is no exception. It's a fast and energetic song that's enjoyable all the way through, but still missing something that could provide that extra bit of magic. I think 7/10 is a fair call here.
  • Madness and Sorrow - I needed to listen to this one a few times before I really "got it", as I didn't care much for it when I first heard the album. Now it has grown on me a bit; the riff is pretty cool, the solos are great (I think I read that Wolfsbane's guitarist did a guest appearance on this?), and I'd rate it a 7/10 these days.
  • 1633 - A personal favourite of mine; back when the album came out I was by coincidence reading a lot about Galileo Galilei, so naturally I took an interest to this song. The cool bass-intro is followed up by some simple but great riffing, and the ending to the song ("And so we turn...") is epic. A solid 9/10.
  • God of Speed - Remember how Bruce has reminded everyone of his passion for fencing with quite a few songs? Well, judging by this song and one on The King of Metal that we'll get to eventually, Blaze definitely has a thing for motorcycles. The lyrics here could also have a deeper meaning of living in the moment, but I have no doubt Blaze was picturing racing down the open roads when he wrote this. Anyway, it's actually a pretty good song with fine performances from both the band and Blaze himself. 8/10.
  • City of Bones - This has to be my favourite track on the album. Atmospheric, heavy riffs and epic melodies, with a majestic-sounding Blaze soaring on top of it. The choir-part midway through the song that builds up to the harmonized riff is a definite contender for best moment on the entire record! Though I assume the city in question is Leningrad (judging by the "surrounded for 900 days"-part), I like how the lyrics focus less on describing a particular scenario, and more on painting a picture of all those people joining together, standing their ground and never giving up. 10/10.
  • Faceless - A rather straightforward tune, nothing special going on here. The lyrical idea is interesting, but the song itself is pretty average. It's the only one I usually skip, so it's a 6/10.
  • Time to Dare - Now, this is very good! There are a lot of nice elements to this one; the main melody is very catchy, the chorus is epic, and the calmer parts work very well as a contrast to the heavier riffs. The lyrics are also pretty decent - being haunted by night terrors that start appearing in the daylight is a terrifying thought indeed. 9/10.
  • Surrounded by Sadness - This is just amazing. Written (along with the three last songs) in the wake of the death of Blaze's first wife, the emotion in this one simply phenomenal. I have never heard anything as heartfelt, I'm still getting the chills everytime I listen to it. Powerful stuff indeed. The acoustic first half of the song is simply beautiful, and the heavy part hits you with incredible force, with an amazing performance by Blaze. I cannot give this lower than 10/10.
  • The Trace of Things That Have No Words - After Blaze has described the loss he felt in the previous song, the anger is now building up as he is experiencing pain like never before. I can fully understand how it's hard not to be angry at everyone and everything, and the aggressiveness of the song is definitely a reflection of this. However, I feel the music itself could've been a bit stronger - the tempo changes are nice, though. 7/10.
  • Letting Go of the World - Another strong song. The grief really shines through here, and once again the calmer parts work very well. The "fight, kill, fuck, eat" is just bad, unfortunately, so it drags the score down for me. I do still think it deserves an 8/10 in the end.
  • Comfortable in Darkness - I'm still not sold on this one. The doomy feel is nice and reminiscent of "Stranger to the Light", but it ends rather abruptly, and doesn't feel quite as well-written as the three previous tracks. I can't argue against yet another set of strong lyrics, though, so I'm gonna give it 7/10 as the second major band-constellation of Blaze's solo career plays their last notes together.

Over the years I've never quite been able to decide with myself which of The Man Who Would Not Die and Promise and Terror I liked the best. Now I'm pretty sure I'm gonna go with the latter - "Faceless" is the weakest track for me here, but really, there's not a single bad song on the album. Because of the lyrical content it might be Blaze's darkest album, and also the last one before he parted ways with the entire band once again. The second era of Blaze Bayley ends on a definite high note for me, and so we turn our gaze towards an uncertain future - what's the next step for the man who would not die?
 
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