High Roller Records (2012 - reissue from 2007)
A vinyl issue of this 2007 self titled album from the traditional/ NWOBHM sounding Japanese quartet Blaze, this 10 song effort will bring out the air guitarists and leather/denim mongers the world over. The heavily Far Eastern accented English vocals of Wataru Shiota are endearing but really the smoldering soloing and riff technique from Hisashi Suzuki makes songs like “Wiseacre In The Land Of Nod” and “Fool’s Mate” requisite for anyone into 1979-1984 European metal. You won’t be able to resist the drum gallop of “Walkin’ on The Cloud”- the influences from Trespass to Tygers Of Pan Tang and Saxon showcasing full appreciation for a sound and style that lives on three decades plus beyond its initial impetus.
The production even has that analog-like feel, forsaking crystal clear computerized punch ins for a dirtier, loose approach that makes you appreciate the work ethic of the band. The cover art disappoints me, as its very plain and nondescript, at least in comparison to the traditional metal on display. Overall the NWOBHM-inspired music wins me over time and again, as the four piece keep the hook level on high and I can see immediate audience feedback to material like “Place In The Sun” and the UFO-like “The Night Speaks” (the solo parts brilliant as Michael Schenker).
There’s more to Japan than Loudness, EZO, Concerto Moon, or Anthem- Blaze give the underground movement of the Far East hope for another buzz worthy breakthrough, even if it’s one fan at a time. Let’s hope the follow up hits the streets soon, as I think those into Vanderbuyst will also dig Blaze’s classic, addictive songs.
Rating: 4 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe