Blaze – As Live As It Gets

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Reviewed: April 2003
Released: 2003, SPV
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Night of the Realm

Live albums appear to be all the rage now in the world of metal. On one hand, we have established bands releasing their first, long-overdue live editions, such as Ancient Rites – AND THE HORDES STOOD AS ONE, and Running Wild – LIVE. Even trendier is the release of a live album by bands with only a couple albums to their names, namely Halford, Sonata Arctica, and now Blaze Bayley’s own band jumps aboard with AS LIVE AS IT GETS.

Being an Iron Maiden fan since X FACTOR came out, I have always enjoyed Blaze’s performance with Maiden, and now with his own band. As a Blaze fan, I am very proud of what he has done with his career. Unlike a certain former Iron Maiden frontman, Blaze has moved out from under Maiden’s shadow, almost as a big “fuck you” to all the Blaze-haters. I digress here…Blaze certainly hasn’t lived in the past, so why should I dwell further on it?

AS LIVE AS IT GETS is 18 tracks, two full albums, well over an hour and a half’s worth of killer classic metal. Of course, Blaze’s two solo albums, SILICON MESSIAH and TENTH DIMENSION represent the bulk of the material on AS LIVE AS IT GETS, but we also have our fair share of Iron Maiden tunes (4 of ‘em, to be precise), even a Wolfsbane tune, the pure rocker, “Steel,” creeps in, as does a slick cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused.”

Blaze has never been one of the best vocalists out there, but his skill as a frontman comes in the form of the passion with which he performs. His energy really shows through on AS LIVE AS IT GETS; it’s obvious that Blaze WANTS to be onstage performing his music. Equally important to the quality of this album is the rest of the band behind Blaze. Guitarists Steve Wray and John Slater lay down the metal sound here with their twin attack of thick riffs and melodic solos, even competing with the original Maiden versions (I actually prefer this version of “When Two Worlds Collide” to the original). Blaze (the band) is what pure metal sounds like. This is not classic metal, nor power, thrash, or true metal. No frills, no add-ons, no experiments, just pure, unadulterated metal.

In the entire album, I only find a couple small snags. First of all is the fact that the recording is not one single concert, but pieced together from two shows, one in Switzerland, and one in the UK. This fact facillitates speculation as to the amount of doctroring of the original recordings, leaving me to wonder if this really is “as live as it gets” for Blaze. That’s the purist in me speaking, though. Listening to the album, I can hardly tell the difference, and quite frankly, I don’t care all that much of how much editing and mixing went on here. Producer Andy Sneap (also the guy behind the mix of Napalm Death and Machine Head) has done a great job with the material. In addition, while I find the crowd interaction to be lively and more than sufficient, I would always like to hear more. I enjoy full-blown spectacles onstage with the singer leading the crowd through choruses, in addition to the inter-song banter, but again, this detail is minor.

Hardcore fans of Blaze such as myself must not hesitate to pick this one up. Blaze has really put out a winner with this album, sure to please die-hards and casual fans alike. AS LIVE AS IT GETS is not a defining live album, such as LIVE AFTER DEATH, or LIVE INSURRECTION, but it is one hell of a good listen.


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Track Listing:
CD1:
01.Speed of Light
02.When Two Worlds Collide
03.Steel
04.Kill and Destroy
05.End Dream
06.Stare at the Sun
07.Land of the Blind
08.Silicon Messiah
09.Dazed and Confused

CD2:
01.Virus
02.The Brave
03.Stranger to the Light
04.Identity
05.Sign of the Cross
06.Futureal
07.Ghost in the Machine
08.Born as a Stranger
09.Tenth Dimension

Lineup:
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Steve Wray – guitars
John Slater – guitars
Rob Naylor – bass
Jeff Singer – drums

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