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Blaze - "As Live As It Gets"
SPV 2003

I must admit that I was quite surprised when I heard that Blaze Bayley (ex- Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane's singer) managed to cast out his debut live album, just after his first two studio efforts "Silicon Messiah" and "Tenth Dimension". After his health problems which showcased anything other than promising future, such kind of enthusiasm and confidence is something his fans were only waiting for. It is nice to finally hear him live and even more important - to get him in really impressive form. On this double live record he packed the best songs from his short period with Blaze (the name of the band and not a solo project as it may seems) along with some songs from his past.

As I said, Mr. Bayley set on this project very ambitious and packed within it mostly the songs from his first two LP's. The set list looks very interesting and I consider many numbers as pure classics of British heavy metal, mainly thanks to his Maiden legacy. Along with the songs that were made in the past three years, there are also four well known Iron Maiden numbers that were created during his role with them (When Two Worlds Collide, Virus, Sign Of The Cross and Futureal). Surprisingly, there is also one song from Wolfsbane era (Steel) that brings us bright memories of N.W.O.B.H.M. First disk also includes a memorable version of Led Zeppelin's Dazed & Confused. It is more of an appreciable difference than imitation of the original song and it is interesting to hear Bayley's own interpretation of this old rock classic.

I won't mind about the production, it seems that they did not have much to change in the studio. It still sounds rough as it is supposed for a good heavy metal onstage. The sound is typical for a British band that has its roots in N.W.O.B.H.M. I can not complain about diversity on this record as on the other hand Blaze consists of some of the best variations in classic heavy metal. Therefore, for all who does not know about Blaze and its style: the songs are very variable. They are using some elements from the other metal genres as can be heard on a little doomy Stranger To The Light or excellent power metal ala Helloween (Born As A Stranger) and somewhere you can even hear some thrashy tunes (Ghost In The Machine). It fits correctly in and gives depth to their sound. The song order is a little unusual. Maybe it would be better for some songs such as melancholically Stare At The Sun (another surprise and the first song Bayley wrote for his new band) to have a different track listening.

I would expose Virus, a great Maiden single from 1996, as the main surprise of entire live set. The only two songs that are not included and that I would like to hear are The Launch and Man On The Edge (by Iron Maiden). In their incarnations of Maiden's songs they made a good work even if it went too groovy at times. The rhythm section indeed can not compare to those of Harris/McBrain, although it is one of the best from the nowadays British heavy metal. With his dark but powerful voice, Bayley fits great with apocalyptic tunes of the music. The cream on top is indeed Sign Of The Cross in his more known vocal version.

If you liked Blaze when he was a singer for Iron Maiden you won't be disappointed by this live album. He is still the same, one and only great singer with his own recognizable voice that refreshed and brutalized Iron Maiden during their struggle after Dickinson's departure.

Without a shame or obstacles, this is the manifestation of perfect heavy combo in any way. A must one for any true HM fan!

Author:   Peter

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