It took Blaze Bayley a couple years to bounce back with a new band and album, and given the fan reception to his work with Iron Maiden, I was skeptical. I didn’t shell out for the Japanese, but I did grab the domestic CD as soon as a copy arrived in our stores. I was pleasantly surprised, as Blaze’s debut solo release Silicon Messiah is a very heavy and memorable disc.
The weakness for some will be Blaze’s voice. You either like it or you don’t. Outside of the context of Iron Maiden, his deep vocals work better. The opening track “Ghost in the Machine” for example is a de-tuned chugger the likes of which Maiden wouldn’t do. Blaze’s vocals work better with this kind of low, growly metal. Fortunately there is still enough melody (on the killer chorus) and riffage to keep heads banging. And no wonder: the CD is produced by metal master Andy Sneap, who laid waste to several excellent Accept albums recently. Blaze wrote the music with his new eponymous band: Steve Wray and John Slater (guitars), Jeff Singer (drums), and Rob Naylor (bass). The band is somewhat faceless, aside from Blaze himself there’s nothing identifiable about the band.
If there is a weakness to Silicon Messiah, it’s that there is a certain sameness to the songs. It’s a bit homogeneous: grinding, de-tuned riffs, melodic choruses and solos, with powerful but low vocals. Fortunately Blaze has written some surprisingly decent lyrics to go with the songs, with several seeming to fit together into some kind of cyberpunk concept.
- “Silicon Messiah”, perhaps the most Maiden-like track.
- “Born as a Stranger”, also Maiden-like (think “Be Quick or Be Dead”); speedy goodness.
- “The Brave”, another fast one that kicks all the asses in the room. “Fortune favours the brave” indeed.
- “Identity” which boasts lots of tasty guitar bits along with loud and quiet parts.
- “The Launch” which is essentially “Man of the Edge” by Iron Maiden re-written (but with a better chorus).
- “Stare at the Sun”, your typical Maiden-inspired epic closer.
Blaze Bayley, his band and Andy Sneap created a pretty decent metal album here. It’s perfectly listenable throughout, if a bit anonymous sounding. Fans of Blaze will dig it.