Thursday, April 05, 2012


High Roller Records

Before anyone else gets confused there are two bands from Japan named Blaze. One was formed in 1975 and one was formed in 1998. Now the one that was formed in 1975 has a complicated enough story so thankfully this is the younger one of the two. While they both play heavy metal/hard rock this younger group is influenced by British metal. More specifically the NWOBHM movement. With that said this is more on the melodic side of the genre with names like Urchin, High Treason, J.J.'s Powerhouse and Marquis De Sade listed as influences. Mention is also made of UFO and the Scorpions so while it is heavy metal at its core it is also bleeds hard rock. When it gets itself going it is hard and heavy music at it's best. The fact that it draws from these various sounds and styles make this s/t release from High Roller Records rather easy to listen to. Now the band released the "See the light" single in 2001 followed by this LP in 2007. What we have is another self-release affair that High Roller Records decided to swoop up and re-issue. Not that there is anything wrong with that right? The band is effectively lead by Wataru Shiota. He gives a great front presence to Blaze and really he is about as traditional a hard rock singer as you can get. The rest of Blaze fits the mold or rather mood perfectly. With catchy rock/metal like this one might be worried that a self-release wouldn't have that great of a sound. Usually these self-release projects have production jobs that are shabby more often than good. Well, that isn't a problem here. The production works really well for "Blaze". Every piece and part of this album works itself out. In the end what I liked most about the production though is the fact that it gives guitarist Hisashi Suzuki a perfect spotlight to show off his skills. Starter track “On the Run” sets the stage perfectly for an album full of great traditional hard rock/heavy metal numbers. It ends up being a real highlight number and a favorite track of mine. Tracks like “Fool’s Mate” and “Wiseacre in the Land of Nod” offer more of the same. Here we have just the cure for those craving something a little more than hard rock and not as heavy as power metal. Along with “Set the Light” and the great bonus track “Night Walker” this album left a lasting smile on my face. Due out on CD and LP (which is limited to 500 copies, 150 x white vinyl + 350 x black vinyl) "Blaze" is a great starting point for this young band.

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