Released: 2000, SPV GmbH
With the exception of Rob Halford's upcoming release (Ressurection), Silicon Messiah just may be the metal album of the year. The album prophesized by the ancients to bring metal back to the throne of domination (and to bring balance to the force). Seriously folks, this album is that good. Powerful, back to basics metal with tons of melody and a classic aftertaste. That's what we're looking for these days, right? The albums we, the metal heads, know are possible! The albums on the horizon that meet the masters of the genre head on and add to the legacy of the almighty beast known as heavy metal. This is that kind of album. An album that might, in time, enter the hallowed halls of metal masterpieces, including: Sad Wings of Destiny, Piece of Mind, Master of Puppets, etc.
With that said, let's get into it shall we? I know that the word on the street is that the Maiden-Blaze split was amicable, but really now, how amicable could it have been? I'm sure that Blaze dealt with it like a man. He must have always known it was a possibility, but it must have stung a little. You go from fronting the ultimate metal band to semi-obscurity in one flick of Steve Harris' finger. C'mon man, that hurts. But, instead of whining like a little bitch, Blaze gets a band together and doesn't look back. The "twisted hands of fate" even deem it so both the new Maiden and Blaze albums come out within weeks of each other. The new Maiden album being very, very good, BUT from out nowhere comes Blaze with a freakin' MONSTER of an album! A big TOUCHE is more like it! A jab that even an experienced fencing champion like Bruce Dickinson didn't see coming! And the cool thing is this: the album wasn't a spiteful, calculated thing. The albums, seriously, just happened to come out at the same time. Blaze even thanks every single member of Maiden in the credits section (hell, Blaze is still managed by Maiden's very own Sanctuary Music Management). It turns out to be a friendly little rivalry of sorts and, just for fun, Blaze defeats the mighty Maiden/Goliath. Brave New World is an awesome record in its own right (and will just destroy Silicon Messiah in album sales). HOWEVER, Blaze has more than proven himself to be a powerful force, musically, for Maiden to contend with.
Enough bullshit, how are the freakin' songs? As I said earlier, the album is a bonafied classic. So ya already know the songs are super heavy! Every single track here benefits from a killer production. The likes of which I¹ve not heard since Roy Z produced the shit out of Bruce's Accident of Birth and The Chemical Wedding. So what I'm sayin' here is that the producer, Andy Sneap, is very Roy Z-like. I don't know what methods these two producers employ in the studios, but the finished product here is similar to a Roy Z album in its overall sound. I'll try my best to sort out what I mean by overall sound (bare with me). The bass and treble sounds seem very pronounced and very well balanced, thus adding to the ultra-heaviness present on this mother. There is a tremendous sharpness and clarity to the production, without making it seem "overproduced." All the instruments + voice are balanced very, very well; no one facet dominating the mix. Lastly, there is a very live feel to the album due to the general lack of multi-layered effects and/or special effects (translation: this thing is gonna cook live because, as an album, it's honest).
Oh yeah, the songs (I'm sorry, there is just no easy way to review this album; there are so many ways to go about it and I don't want to leave anything out). From what I gather, the first three and the last three tracks form two separate mini-concept albums. Sandwiched between these two stories are four songs that stand on their own. The first concept, seemingly inspired by The Matrix, centers around the coming into being of an artificial intelligence. These songs question the progress this fast approaching reality will bring about. Real cool shit! The second story I'm not so clear on yet, but it seems to stay within the same framework as the first. The other four are just knock 'em dead metal songs with killer choruses and I promise I won't analyze them to death.
So here's a list of my favorites:
Ghost in the Machine: A two-ton heavy thing to start the disk off onto the righteous path of heaviness. Did I say heavy?
Evolution: Contagious chorus.
Silicon Messiah: Melodramatic muthafuckin' jackhammer.
Born a Stranger: Cool chops on this one (on all of 'em).
The Hunger: Love the solo. Really creative stuff going on here.
The Brave: Proves Blaze paid attention in Iron Maiden 101.
Identity: The guitars on this track just kick. I love how the guitars (not only on this song) fluctuate between old-school sounds and crunchy new ones.
Reach for the Horizon: Slow and steady wins the race!
The Launch: The bastard child of "Man on the Edge."
Stare at the Sun: The best track on the album. This is the end result of interbreeding between the Wolfsbane and Maiden years. A new monster has been unleashed upon our world!
Uh oh, I guess my list of favorites included every single track on the album! This is a hard sonofabitch to get ahold of, but try very hard to get it (North Americans: If you can't find a import copy at your local record store, try http://www.amazon.co.uk
). This German release (on SPV) is worth every mark. Blaze has offered up something very new, yet classic. If "Stare at the Sun" is any indication of things to come, I am very excited about this band's future. By the way, Blaze, if you read this, PLEASE COME TO AMERICA! You can stay at my house!
Drop by http://www.planetblaze.com
for more BLAZE info.