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Blaze – Self-Titled

by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 01 March 2012, 10:48 PM

When thinking about Metal or Rock music from Japan, the first band that comes to my mind is LOUDNESS and its wizard of a lead guitarist, Akira Takasaki. Following my craze regarding this band, I thought that it solely represented the face of the Japanese desire to be engulfed by the western culture of Europe and the US. Nonetheless, along with LOUDNESS I got to know X-JAPAN and ANTHEM, which are also premier bands with loads of experience and flourished careers. BLAZE, not Bayley if you had any doubts, though still not a big shot of a name like the bands I mentioned, showed me that traditional Metal and Hard Rock music can sound as European and American along with a high level of perfectionism and a skilled character that is the bread and butter of the Japanese nation.

BLAZE’s style has a fresh and smooth vibe of a well done muddle up between the classic Rock and Hard Rock of the 70s along with the first chopping sounds of NWOBHM. Back in 2007, the band issued, on their own accord, their self-titled debut. The German High Roller Records captured this band, signed it and about to release their debut along with an extra track as an additional tang. First of all I am glad that High Roller signed this band because I think that their music is a great tribute to the past. While putting aside the music for a moment, the production, which I don’t know if was made to sound analogue or was truly analogue in the first place, added supplementary energy and raise the level of excitement of my brains.

As for the music, the guitar work was more or less my peak interest. Even though I think that the band’s lead guitarist, Hisashi Suzuki, has a few Takasaki elements in his guitar playing and it shows on several of the songs’ riffages, this guy is insane. He doesn’t sound like the ultimate shred head but rather as the classic Rock guitarist that here in there gets extremely passionate with the liberation of hot and bothered licks sent right from the land of the rising sun to the US then to Europe and back. Furthermore, I couldn’t complain about the rhythm section of Kuwahara, bass, and Funabiki on drums that maintained the sense of Rock with their instruments. As for the vocalist of the band, Wataru Shiota, I have rather puzzled for the entire listening process. In general, he sings great with a voice pattern that sounded like Ian Astruby of THE CULT. However, that voice drags an intense Japanese accent that even LOUDNESS’s vocalist Minoru Niihara ceased to hold. Gladly that several channels of vocals, which served as back up, were included to help his voice to gain power.

Without any word of warning “On The Run” blasted my ears with no mercy flowing forcefully with top notch Hard N’ Heavy music of the early 80s. I think that aside “Place In The Sun”, this is the most impressive track this band came up with on this album. I think that these two songs stages the best quality of guitar playing and vocal works and I also can’t fail to remember the rhythm section that performed well producing a wondrous stream. Furthermore, I liked “Heart of Gold”, “Fool's Mate” and “Answer” as well.

BLAZE’s impressive liveliness and their attention to details created a wonderful display of classic Rock and Metal music. Though not unleashing anything that would raise an eyebrow, this is classic stuff from a Far Eastern band that shares the same admiration for style.

4 Star Rating

1. On The Run
2. Fool's Mate
3. Heart of Gold
4. Wiseacre In The Land Of Nod
5. Answer
6. Walkin' On The Cloud
7. The Night Speaks
8. See The Light
9. Place In The Sun
10. Picture…
11. Night Walker (Feat. Tsueno Shibatani – Drums)
Wataru Shiota– Vocals
Hisashi Suzuki– Guitars
Kenichi Kuwahara– Bass
Takashi Funabiki– Drums
Record Label: High Roller Records


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