Blaze - The Rock Dinosaur - (7.5/10)
Published on April 13, 2014
There’s been a fair number of old school heavy metal revivalist acts that have been making waves of late, such as the Iron Maiden obsessed White Wizzard of California and the equally over-the-top Striker out of Canada. However, there have been a number of bands that have been toiling in the underground since well before 2008 to purvey the late 70s to early 80s NWOBHM and its American contemporaries. Among the more overt adherents to this school of music is a late 90s born Japanese retro act dubbed Blaze that has been putting out albums on a fairly sporadic basis, of which The Rock Dinosaur is their latest, and a rather catchy little EP at that.
There’s little secret as to where this band lives musically, though the sources of their hard rocking demeanor is a bit eclectic within the spectrum of well established acts circa 1976-1982. The overall picture is a tiny bit more moderated than the bands that would end up influencing the thrash metal scene, but hints of early speed metal offerings out of the likes of Riot, Rainbow and Judas Priest can be heard, particularly in the up tempo cooker “Shed Light On Dark”, which definitely points at a healthy early Riot influence (think “Warrior” and “Narita”), though the production value is much cleaner and in line with present day practices.
Granted, this album tends to come off more as hard rock than heavy metal in the really heavy sense of early Manowar or Judas Priest at the turn of the decade with British Steel. The shuffling groove of “The Going Gets Rough” listens dangerously close to a direct homage to Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City”, while “Lady Of Starlight” has some massive Scorpions tendencies to its easy going groove. The vocal work is a pretty safe, clean crooning baritone and the guitar tends to stick to standard rocking riffs rather than the frenetic or pummeling character of what Motorhead would bring to the table. Even the occasional lead guitar bursts, while fairly active, stay comfortably entrenched in the blues box, avoiding the shredding and Neo-classical character of Ritchie Blackmore during his experimental pushes even in the early 70s.
Although the formula here is pretty plain and leans a bit heavy on the cliché, the songs are quite fun and definitely have replay value. It’s a testament to the strength of metal, even in its most primitive form, that can turn a basic four piece arrangement into a celebration of sound and resonance after more than 40 years of existence. Just about anyone with a taste for where rock was going after the flower power days will find a solid album here with all the necessary studio upgrades to give the stereo speakers a good workout.