What type of Blaze-era Iron Maiden fan were you?

What type of Blaze-era Iron Maiden fan were you?


  • Total voters
    95

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Well, I discovered them later but I wouldn’t say I “liked” the Blaze era. Change the verb to present-tense and use “love” instead and I think that’s be more accurate.
 

7th son

Educated Fool
Oh great, another thread for GhostSword to bash Blaze in!

On a more serious note, my first Maiden album was Best of the Beast, so I was introduced to Blaze right from the start, and I never considered his time in the band to be any better or worse than the others. The X factor is one of their best albums in my opinion.
 

Black Wizard

Cereal Litigator
I discovered Iron Maiden and the "Blaze era" in 2005. I was apathetic at first but 'The X-Factor' grew on me and is one of my favourite Iron Maiden albums. 'Virtual XI' has never sat well with me though.
 

Jer

I’m not a fish, I’m a man
I've already explained my views at length elsewhere; but for the record, I listened to the Blaze albums when they were new, gave him a fair chance, and just couldn't get into those albums as a whole.

There are a few songs I like, like "Blood On The World's Hands", "2AM", and "Futureal", but I find most of the Blaze material difficult to listen to because of Blaze's very inconsistent performance, poor production, and lackluster-to-poor songwriting.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
I became a huge fan in 1991, the period in between No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark (two albums I bought today on vinyl). You could say I'm a rare species on this forum. Most people here became a fan since the "reunion era", since the "golden years", or since the "Blaze years".

I am from the often neglected, and IMO also often underestimated early nineties period, when Grunge started to take over.
It all started after having heard a recorded cassette of the debut album during a Scouting camp. I have never been so addicted to new music after hearing this stuff in my walkman. I was completely in another world. The two tracks which totally triggered me were Prowler and Transylvania. The tape was from a nice bloke who told me I should have a listen, I might like it. The other side had Kiss on it. Liked that as well! You could say I literally got into both bands on the same day, but Maiden hit me harder.

After getting hooked, I bought the Live After Death LP-set (2nd hand of course), plus the Sanctuary 12" vinyl single, which I chose because Prowler was the b-side on it. Perhaps I bought the single before LAD, or even both at the same time, can't remember :--/

After LAD I bought two videos: 12 Wasted Years and The First Ten Years.

First bought studio albums (also in 1991): Two at the same time: Somewhere in Time & Piece of Mind. I just HAD to buy SIT, because I was totally mesmerized by the fragment of Caught Somewhere in Time that I knew from 12 Wasted Years.

Before I bought my first studio albums, I already knew Killers, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (which I both borrowed from a classmate) and the before mentioned debut album.

After this, all went very fast and I purchased all Maiden albums before I witnessed Iron Maiden for the first time ever in concert, 2 September 1992. It was my first concert experience. From that gig, Can I Play With Madness landed on A Real Live One (again neglected -together with other live albums from the nineties- in the current Vinyl series)! .......
....... Around that time Bruce announced he would leave and I was very, very disappointed. And sad. I kept following him, buying the Tears of the Dragon single and all subsequent releases. Saw him "solo" with Skunkworks and on The Chemical Wedding tour (missed AOB tour for unknown reason).

Naturally I was very curious about what Maiden would do. I remember buying some French magazine during a holiday in France introducing the new singer.
I heard Blaze for the first time when MTV Headbangers Ball played the Man on the Edge video. I wasn't over the moon about this yet. It sounded a bit monotone and I didn't find the music that intriguing. But then came The X-Factor. This was very different, deep stuff. I remember secluding myself in a room, getting my disc man and playing the whole thing for the first time. I was very enthralled with the whole thing. Some songs more than others but I liked the atmosphere, the playing and most of the singing! ;)

Maiden was still Maiden and this was their new course and I liked it. Still do. Three years later VXI came out and it was also the year I went on internet for the first time. I collaborated with Baeleron and Maverick's Iron Maiden Commentary and fought with Blaze haters on the alt.rock-n-roll.metal.ironmaiden Newsgroup.

LIVE:
I have seen Blaze solo five times (once a duet with Thomas Zwijsen), but also two times with Maiden, in 1995 and 1998.

What was it like? Well, back in 1995, it was only the second Maiden concert I visited. I had seen the band one time before that, and that was in 1992. I didn't see the band in the eighties, so I didn't have a huge "Bruce concert past" as many older people around that time. I was 20, and I was just terribly excited to see the band, and -in a time without internet- I was mighty curious about the songs. So the whole thing was more about the gig and the music, than about Blaze. To be honest, I'd seen Blaze on MTV (Ray Cokes!) doing Man On The Edge and Wrathchild and that went very good. Blaze had a different voice, maybe even a different approach than the other singers but as long as it sounded good, it was OK for me. The Di'Anno material certainly fitted his voice well. Also his own songs went pretty good. Someone earlier in this topic said that the TXF songs sounded so much better live than the studio versions. This was true, but believe me: this is the case with most Maiden songs.

Blaze came across as a humble and motivated person, with as much fire in the eyes as Bruce.
It showed he was in a band he loved and he respected the audience very much. I liked his performance, but the 1980s Bruce-era songs were hard to do for him. Too high for his range. Why do I say 1980s Bruce-era, and not just Bruce-era? You'll see that later. During the concert it didn't show that much (I was at least as focused on the other guys, and very in awe to see Maiden again), but listening to bootlegs it's easier to focus on it.

From the regular TXF-tour setlist the following songs went not that good or even very bad:

Heaven Can Wait
The Evil That Men Do
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clairvoyant
The Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name

These songs went from pretty OK to very good:

Man On The Edge
Wrathchild
Lord of the Flies
Fortunes of War
Blood on the World's Hands
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Aftermath
Sign of the Cross
The Edge of Darkness
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden
Running Free

From the non-Blaze era songs I particularly remember that he was very good in Wrathchild, Fear of the Dark and also Afraid to Shoot Strangers. From the TXF songs, I thought he did Man on the Edge and Blood on the World's Hands the best.

Three years later, Maiden was back. This time I stood closer to the stage and had a very good view on Blaze and the other moving band members. Blaze looked much more comfortable in his role as frontman and the band was (as always) on fire. I remember a particular awesome part in the set where Sign of the Cross, Afraid to Shoot Strangers and Hallowed Be Thy Name were played in a row! :blink:

This time I'll focus on the songs which went not good, or (very) bad:

Lightning Strikes Twice (he couldn't do the chorus)
Heaven Can Wait
2 Minutes To Midnight
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Evil That Men Do

Of course, in other songs he had some edgy moments, but such things are only notable on bootlegs. Again I was in awe of seeing the band, and I swear, that even though I realized that Blaze didn't do some songs that well, I was still happy with the performance and I didn't mind he was in the band. At the time I liked both Blaze albums, but now I am more critical with VXI.

Judgement:

Was Blaze a bad performer?
No

Was Blaze a bad singer?
No

Was Blaze a bad singer when it comes to 1980s Bruce era songs and other high parts in some other songs?
Yes

The setlist didn't do much good. Even though these difficult songs were less than the half of the set, these were the moments many people remember. Especially the people who only compared Blaze with Bruce and who didn't want to accept Blaze as a new singer, joining Maiden in a new chapter of the book.

Other aspects (taken from Blaze's official biography) Blaze had to deal with: failing techniques (soundwise), short rehearsing time, and he had to deal with an annoying roady, I think it was a monitor man.

Blaze himself did his utter best but he had to work in difficult circumstances and he had to deal with an enormous legacy. I really wish people would read his biography. It gives honest insight into his world at the time.

Despite all the criticism, right before and after he was replaced, the first time I saw Blaze solo, after his debut, I was immediately convinced that he was a good performer, and singer.



===
My view on the ALBUMS:

The X-Factor
Never before and after, Maiden was disliked by so many people as in the period of 1995-1998: The Blaze years.

For many young people this is perhaps strange to comprehend. They seem to appreciate this era, just like young people at that time, who grew up with Maiden in the nineties. Like me for instance. I didn’t understand so much disgust. So many people who loved them in the eighties turned their back on Maiden. There’s still some of them on this forum, I bet. Nothing terribly wrong with turning your back on a band, but I find it important to illustrate this, because in my mind it’s hard to separate it, when thinking about The X-Factor.

People who knew Maiden since the eighties and who still liked the Blaze years at that time were rare species, especially on the internet (Baeleron had furious newsgroup battles with the worst haters, to defend Blaze and the band. Maverick also appreciated this era, which can be seen in the Commentary).

A lof of (especially European and South American) gigs were still very crowded. Most people still cared to see a Maiden gig, which has always been a special experience. But a majority of the media and the fans didn’t like the Blaze albums, especially because of Blaze’s voice, the build-up of the songs, and the musical climate in these years.

Looking back, Janick couldn’t illustrate it in a better way with the following words:

“…X Factor I felt was a great album. Wasn’t well-received at the time. The grunge thing had happened, and every rock artist was canceling tours right across America. We went out and we played and we were the most unfashionable band at the time in the world, but we still went out and did the gigs and we enjoyed ourselves, and we thought we had a good album. See you go out and you play, and you make an album, and you hope the people like it, and if they do like it, got bless them, and the people that don’t, well, God bless them too."

I remember that The X-Factor review in Aardschok magazine was very negative. It said that the songs were too long, started too slow with too long and calm intros. Nowadays those same reviewers don't seem to bother about other albums with long intros. They rave about Opeth and every band with long songs has suddenly become fantastic.

Anyway, I never had a problem with longer intros. Afraid to Shoot Strangers and Fear of the Dark also contained these.

On The X-Factor Nicko does a very nice job, and the drumsound is also good. Apart from Somewhere in Time and A Matter of Life or Death I even like this drumsound the most from all the Maiden albums.

About the whole sound, I read often that people dislike the mix of the album. Everyone his own opinion, but I truly hear that the music (esp. guitars and drums) does not sound as thin as in Virtual IX, Fear of the Dark and even Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. I think it’s the 2nd best sounding album of the nineties (I prefer No Prayer for the Dying soundwise).

The solos also have something special. This is the only studio album where you can hear Dave’s solos from the left speaker and Janick’s from the right.

TXF's haunting, moody atmosphere was majorily caused by Steve who went through some hard times in his private life. It’s a big quality of this album, and makes it enjoyable to listen to it without a single pause. For such a long record (over 70 minutes!) that’s a rare thing these days, when loose songs are more important than whole albums.

The second half of the album is very strong, and perhaps also most underrated. I have always liked two songs that haven't been mentioned much in the past: Judgement of Heaven & The Unbeliever.

The mid-sections of The Educated Fool and No More Lies are in my ears rip-offs of the mid-section of Judgement of Heaven. I'd say The Unbeliever is one of the most interesting things Maiden have ever done! These acoustic guitars parts in the bridges, the instrumental mid-section with the boneshivering solos and almost tribal drumming, really superb!

I was never a huge fan of the studio version of The Edge of Darkness, but I remember it was surprisingly nice and way heavier, hearing it live in concert, back in 1995, and the song has a nice acceleration (like in Hallowed Be Thy Name). 2 AM is a nice moody ballad with a typical Janick solo (a la Wasting Love & Como Estais Amigos) and I love the atmosphere and the solos in the strong Blood in the World's Hands.

To end this in a more positive way than the beginning of this post:
This album is getting more and more recognition, and I'm very glad about that. It took a while, but it has the potential to be one of the most loved Maiden records of their whole discography. I hope that Maiden will feel that as well. Let’s hope they will perform another track of it in the future!

Virtual XI
According to Blaze's biography Maiden waited long with recording this album and when it finally happened they didn't take much time. He felt it was done in a rush.

Maybe this is why the songs don't contain as many details as in other songs. Big disappointment is Nicko. Nicko's drums are the dullest from all the records (he touches his toms 4 or 5 times on the whole album). I remember he said in an interview that he did that on purpose to give the music more room. But it didn't make the music more attractive. People have made some funny comments about it: Steve Harris had done the drums himself. ;-)
Nonsense of course, but when I was in Stockholm I actually saw an album by an artist called Steve Harris and he was the drummer!
Speaking of drums, Nicko's Muppet drums in the fast part of the instrumental section in Don't Look to Eyes of a Stranger are unforgivable.

Another critic of the time was that the album sounded like a demo, and not even one that was recorded well. In the album review I read the album's sound was compared with Helloween's Better Than Raw album, and it was trashed. I don't have much of a problem with the production sound. It's a warm sound, especially the rhythm guitars are roaring nicely from the speakers (or headphones).

I feel that there is a number of unoriginal moments on the album. A bit too easily Maiden fell back on things they did before. This happened on most of the later records as well but this was the start of it.

Remarkably this album only features one song by Janick Gers. Perhaps he had a writing block of some sort, but looking at his impact on the previous records (especially The X-Factor), I feel that the album might have suffered from the lack of his input. Thank God his playing was not blocked: He did one of his best guitar solos on The Clansman.

Virtual XI also contains some spellbinding moments. Take for instance the intros of Lightning Strikes Twice and The Educated Fool!

In 1998 Blaze looked comfortable in his role as frontman and the band was on fire. Apart from the chorus of Lightning, the rest of the VXI-material went down very well.

I can enjoy the album but I simply do not find it as striking as most other stuff Maiden has done.

===


TXF song and album ranking:
01. The Unbeliever 10/10
02. Blood on the World's Hands 10/10

03. Judgement of Heaven 9/10
04. Sign of the Cross 9/10
05. Fortunes of War 9/10
06. Lord of the Flies 9/10

07. Man on the Edge 8/10
08. The Aftermath 8/10

09. 2 A.M. 7/10
10. The Edge of Darkness 7/10

11. Look for the Truth 6/10

Based on these ratings:
- The X-Factor album score: 8,36
- The X-Factor is my #6 Maiden album.


VXI song ranking:
01. Lightning Strikes Twice 9/10
02. The Clansman 9/10
03. Futureal 9/10

04. The Educated Fool 8/10

05. The Angel and the Gambler 7/10
06. Como Estais Amigos 7/10

07. Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger 6/10
08. When Two Worlds Collide 6/10

Based on these ratings:
- Virtual XI album score: 7,63
- Virtual XI is my #15 Maiden album.


=======
My MAIDEN TOP 50 contains 7 Blaze era songs. It was made before TBOS came out so I think some will fall out of this top 50.

07. The Unbeliever
17. Blood on the World's Hands
27. Virus
35. Judgement of Heaven
43. Lightning Strikes Twice
49. Sign of the Cross
50. Fortunes of War


 
Last edited:

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
I first heard that Blaze was replacing Bruce, it was through a magazine so I had the opportunity to buy a Wolfsbane maxi-single first ("Shakin'"), which I listened to religiously with a friend who was (and still is) as much a Maiden fan as myself. I think it was a mix of excitement, awe... and a little bit of (tacit) disappointment since we both expected someone with a voice close to Michael Kiske's or RJD.

Then, it was the "Man on the Edge" 4-track single which revved up my expectations, and The X Factor itself... which I grew on me to a certain point but that I still find inferior to pretty much all the rest so far (I then had the same feeling for AMOLAD i.e the impression that the album is just one long song and whose respective "highlights" - "BOTWH" and "FTGGOG"- I find much too depressing for my taste).

Conversely -and although I wasn't impressed at all by "TAATG" and "Futureal"... which I heard on the phone, thanks to a magazine again- I liked VXI better on release, though in retrospect I find it less magical than its predecessor (and logically so: I was three years older). I still prefer listening to the shorter of the two but this after anything else, except AMOLAD.

As for the B-sides, "Virus" was saved from total disappointment by browsing the nice booklet of Best of the Beast (the 2CD version) but honestly I still don't find it is a good song. The B-sides to "Lord of the Flies" on the other hand were a very pleasant surprise.

To conclude, the "best of Blaze years" for me consists in the two singles taken from TXF. :)
 
Last edited:

SirRobbins

Ancient Mariner
Picked up Somewhere in Time in 1997 and that was my exposure to Maiden and metal. I picked up Powerslave and Seventh Son behind it. I actually didn't get a blaze album until 2000 when BNW came out. I liked X factor but that was before hearing the earlier Maiden stuff. I actually liked the Blaze music better than the first 2 albums at first. It was harder to get used to Paul than Blaze but that changed after years.
 

soundwave

Educated Fool
I don't care for the term "Blaze era" as the two albums are radically different to my ears. TXF was a gloomy, slightly different, masterpiece. VXI was...crap.

I had been listening to Maiden for about a decade by the time TXF came out. The be honest, I was ready for them to mix it up a bit. I had discovered NIN, Tool, Alice in Chains, Fear Factory, Godflesh, and Type O Negative by then. Post-Adrian, Bruce era Maiden was beginning to sound passe and stale in comparison.

My one frustration is that they didn't continue on with the somber approach with VXI. Blaze's voice just doesn't fit that great with the perkier stuff - that will always be Bruce's forte. BNW was a return to the swashbuckling style of old, and I was glad that Bruce was back to swing from the rafters...but for a rainy Sunday afternoon in October, TXF was perfect.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Oh well. I'm gonna listen to it again tonight and let's see if my opinion has changed.
 

soundwave

Educated Fool
I'll give it another chance on the way to work tomorrow. I think I can squeeze it all in during the commute. Though the kids might be pissed:D
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
If they make a scene, play them the 25 minute version of The Angel and the Gambler. After getting through that, they'll love the original like it's Johann Sebastian Bach. :ok:
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Oh great, another thread for GhostSword to bash Blaze in!
Unnecessary. @GhostSword is welcome to share his opinions politely, and we're willing to listen. Let's set an example.

I don't care for the term "Blaze era" as the two albums are radically different to my ears. TXF was a gloomy, slightly different, masterpiece. VXI was...crap.
I like Virtual XI. Is it a flawed album, one of the more flawed in the Iron Maiden catalogue? Absolutely, and I fully admit that some of my delight in the album lies in nostalgia. I got into Iron Maiden in 2001, and I didn't live near a record store - getting to one was difficult for me. So I turned to the delight of all teenagers in 2001 - I dialed up to the internet and turned to Napster to download songs, 52 kbps at a time. I'd heard Alexander the Great and The Clansman in my first go around. Napster delivered a few tracks - Fear of the Dark from ARDO, Running Free from ARLO, The Trooper, and Lightning Strikes Twice. Of all the tracks I had after that first go, I thought Lightning Strikes Twice was the best (now, obviously, I have a different opinion). Other early songs were Tailgunner, Futureal, Sign of the Cross, and The Angel and the Gambler.

I thought I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into when I got to the store eventually and walked away with Powerslave and Brave New World. I was wrong, of course - I was just at the surface of what would soon become an obsession. But Blaze was a big part of me getting into Maiden, and he has a huge part in the history of the band.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
VXI is still a good album, and Como Estais Amigos is... well, check the commentary thread.
 

Yoav

Invader
I was a very young kid then. I got into Maiden in 2005 during my military service thanks to the friend who played metal boldly and loudly while driving a military truck. It's funny because my dad is a metalhead and Maiden fan,but i thought then that Maiden was the old men music totally irrelevant for me. I wasn't even sure if the band was still active. It all changed rapidly for me, and i had to do a lot of homework . Discovering Maiden made me a much happier person.
When i listened to the Xfactor and Virtual Eleven for the first time i didn't like it all, it didn't sound like Maiden to me, and it wasn't because of Blaze and his voice only, it was something else i couldn't explain. They call it vibe, i guess. I put these 2 albums aside for a couple of years until my dad told me he actually liked Xfactor. I gave it another try,but stiil it didn't click for me. I don't like Blaze as a singer, not only for Maiden, but in general. I saw him live twice in the last 4 years. He tries his best, but he's a mediocre singer imho, and when he tries to sing Maiden it's unbearable. I have to say that my girlfriend actively hates his solo stuff, i don't feel like this. I think he creates pretty good music, i just don't like his voice and singing style.
 
Last edited:

frus

Barbed Wire Hen
i didn't like it all, it didn't sound like Maiden to me, and it wasn't because of Blaze and his voice only, it was something else i couldn't explain. They call it vibe, i guess.
It was exactly the same for me too (except I heard TXF when it came out). Didn't sound like Maiden (and it's still the least-Maiden-sounding album of all). Sounded like a cheap Maiden rip off, to be blunt. More because of the overall sound than Blaze. Also, after SOTC there are several (for me) weaker tracks in a row, so it was kinda hard to focus my attention and listen (it gets much better towards the end, but I'd usually quit by then). Tried listening several times during the years until at one moment it really clicked
 
Top