"As Live as It Gets" (SPV; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's hard to imagine someone getting the bad end of the deal when they go from an obscure heavy metal band (like Wolfsbane) to a superstar heavy metal band like (Iron Maiden). But that's exactly what happened to Blaze Bayley. The poor guy got every metalhead's dream - to become the lead singer of Iron Maiden - and just happened to join when the band was in its worst creative slump ever. I don't blame the lack of success of "The X Factor" and "Virtual XI" on Bayley as much as I do the rest of Iron Maiden. And, for my money, Maiden's reunion with Bruce Dickinson, "Brave New World," wasn't much better than "X" And "XI"'s lackadaisical sound.

But something good did come out of Bayley's time in Maiden - now every heavy metal fan knows who he is. If they didn't, then "As Live as It Gets" might be the album that brings him to the forefront. Recorded during live performances in support of Blaze's studio releases, "Silicon Messiah" and "Tenth Dimension," "As Live as It Forgets" contains songs from those CDs as well as the best of Bayley's Iron Maiden years and a "bastardized version" of Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" (you ain't never heard it like this).

With Blaze back in control (rather than just being a hired gun), Blaze (the band) is able to soar. The heavy metal contained in this two disc set is loud and heavy - the kind of rock'n'roll designed to drive dictators out of their homes. Throughout, Blaze is in top form. Even during the Iron Maiden numbers (which, surprisingly, sound better here than they did with Maiden). And his between song banter is genuine and makes obvious his love of being on stage.

I've always loved double live albums and Blaze's "As Live As It Gets" is another classic to add to the heavy metal shelf.

Blaze: Blaze Bayley - vocals; Steve Wray - guitars; John Slater - guitars; Rob Naylor - bass; Jeff Singer - drums.

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"Silicon Messiah" (SPV; 2000)

Reviewed by TBJ

I've been a Blaze Bayley fan even throughout Maiden's "dark years" (it wasn't his fault  - Steve Harris refused to d-tune his instruments and write in favor of Blazeís range). Blaze was blamed for Maidenís musical decline throughout his years in the band by people who "forgot" Maiden really lost their edge when Adrian Smith left (but that is another different topic - maybe one of these days I'll write an article about it).

But the past is all over now and, after one listen to "Silicon Messiah," everything I've been saying in defense of Blaze all these years has finally been proven: Give the man heavy-as-shit guitars, let him write from his heart, and watch the harvest grow. 

"Silicon Messiah" deals with the not too distant future. Machines and emotionless beings rule the land (hey, thatís actually happening now!) Every song has a deep metaphoric meaning, adapted to how machines interact with living beings. The songs are carefully constructed and use heavy, moody and dark guitar riffs, intricate and bottom-heavy bass-lines, and tight drumming. All this great stuff played by a bunch of hungry, relatively unknown metal guys (Blaze did a great job in picking them!) 

Ironically, the songs herein, as a whole, are reminiscent of Bruce Dickinsonís "Chemical Wedding" and "Accident of Birth" combined with a touch of Savatage. 

This is good shit, people. Give Blaze another chance. He sure as hell has earned it.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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