(High Roller Records)
Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Blaze comes out with a debut album that is brimming with flash and style, showcasing a style that melds a 70’s hard rock/pre-metal style with that of early heavy music, but what good is flash if not accompanied by substance? Well, I’m pleased to inform you that Blaze has an abundance of substance on this self-titled debut in terms of musicianship, composition, and melody.
As far as the band’s sound is concerned, there’s a strong Scorpions influence here in the clear, soaring vocal melodies in both the verses and choruses, which is shown excellently in the track “Answer,” as well as some very prevalent hard rock influences in the vein of Blue Oyster Cult and Deep Purple that just skirt the edge of the metal boundary line (see “Heart of Gold”). We also get a little early Judas Priest in some of the more driving rhythms found on the album.
The songwriting and composition here is superb in capturing the spirit of this great music. Not being contented with just being another throwback band, Blaze seems to have really submerged themselves in the spirit of this music, rather than just trying to rehash and recreate something that’s already been done. The riffs are catchy and well-constructed, the choruses are sky-high, and the solos oftentimes have as much (or more) anthem-esque qualities than the vocals themselves, and are played with great skill and placement, a true statement for every solo on the album, though some of my favorites are in “Heart of Gold,” “The Night Speaks,” and “Night Walker.”
Not overly ground breaking stylistically, but what it may lack in innovation, 'Blaze' more than makes up for in spirit, composition, and sincerity in its music, a fun, uplifting album from start to finish, without a single weak moment. This one comes highly recommended. [8.5]