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While Blaze's second album 'Tenth Dimension' features a storyline that was made "for me", I felt a bit disaffected by it straight from the start. Maybe the reason is the storyline, which is bloody awesome actually! A fucking paradox... Let's see the story first. There's this professor who travels to the tenth dimension (Einstein's relativity theory and newer quantum theory can only go hand in hand if there are at least ten dimensions!) and wants to benefit his findings to mankind, not governments or such. Science and fiction meet in a way I love it.
Musicwise, this doesn't differ too much from already wide 'Silicon Messiah' (2000). Its ends are simply pulled further from each other. It is still safe to say, that 'Tenth Dimension' is a slab of English heavy metal. So, as this is a conceptual album, there are a lot of different bits abound. 'Kill and Destroy' is a true "raise yer fists and bang yer head!" type song, and fast 'Leap of Faith' as well as bonafide heavy metal song 'Stealing Time' can also be named as such. 'Speed of Light' is also one of these, and the catchiest song on the album; also known as 'Born as a Stranger' of 'Tenth Dimension'!
Darker pieces are part of the story, too. Varying 'End Dream' is the first of these. Anthemic 'Nothing Will Stop Me' makes you believe that Blaze won't stop. Epic slow song 'Meant to Be', featuring female vocals but not being a love song, with its intro 'The Truth Revealed' (listen, this is what influenced Mr. Dickinson's calm singing on 'The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg'...) is one of the pinnacles of the album. 'Stranger to the Light' features dumb "Mission: Impossible" style main riff, that causes emesis reactions for me. Fuck that, because the song is otherwise more than plausible. No real contender for 'Stare at the Sun' here, sadly.
And two reminders are the mighty title track and that other song... 'The Tenth Dimension' is pure manna, because it features both sides, the banging and the dark. And no "Mission: Impossible" acrobatics here. It really deserves to carry the crown of the title track. Actually there is the third side to this album, and many of its songs: Beauty. Well, there are a lot of sides, but they are achieved by touching the betweens of the trinity "banging-dark-beauty". This takes us to the final song, that's to be mentioned yet: 'Land of the Blind' is a groovy song, and easily the worst piece on the album, thanks to its bad verses and Ozzy-sounding pre-chorus.
Blaze Bayley's vocals didn't sit into Iron Maiden too well. But when the music's done specially for him, his manly and powerful voice controls. He sounds very, very characteristic, and that is a obstacle for some people. This wouldn't be Blaze if there was not some hollering parts. Blaze is also the master of choruses (minus 'Land of the Blind', which failed miserably, actually the whole song did). The guitars by Steve Wray and John Slater are pleasurable to listen to. Really rock-hard riffs, screaming and catchy solos, fantastic harmonies, you name it. The rhythm section of bassist Rob Naylor and drummer Jeff Singer is tighter than a virgin and very firm indeed.
The Andy Sneap production is solid. There's far more flesh over the bones than in many of his works. There are up to 40-60 tracks of music in the songs, so they are rich. Everything is well-balanced, so there's no muddled stuff. Graphic design is really spot-on; the booklet's lyrics pages look like a professor's diary.
The limited edition digipak includes a bonus CD with okay live songs, and two out of four songs are only available here, as they do not appear on 'As Live as It Gets' . Studio track 'Living Someone Else's Life' features nice chorus, but otherwise is too American style groovy piece for my liking. There is also a multimedia part with grainy videos (good and informative EPK with interviews, and a promo clip for 'Ghost in the Machine'), 2 mp3's from the debut and pictures. In all, this is nothing too special, but good item for Blaze followers.
Even if 'Tenth Dimension' is my least favourite Blaze album, that doesn't mean it is crap. It is mostly very solid work indeed, and if English heavy metal is your cup of tea, get it. But remember to give it time.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2009)
The first three songs on The Tenth Dimension are really good, and show a lot of promise, alluding to a heightened maturity in songwriting for the ex-Maiden man. This was his second album, and it was in the right position to be a new modern classic, what with it being released right in the apex of metal's first 'rebirth' period in the early 2000s. I mean, what could go wrong? He had a good debut and was gaining momentum, so what exactly went wrong with this?
Well, this isn't really a bad album - more just average than anything, with too many songs that do not manage to excite. I've given this one several chances to grow on me, and my final conclusion is that it's just kind of dull.
Like I said, though. The first couple of songs are really cool. "Kill and Destroy" is a realization and perfection of all the potential Blaze showed on his raucous debut Silicon Messiah, with a cleaner, smoother guitar tone making way for a more acrobatic and hard-hitting sound overall. The riffs chug away and the rhythm snarls like a lion, all the while as Blaze belts out his trademark mid-range vocals. It's catchy, powerful and a hell of a lot of fun. "End Dream" is a mystical, abstract doomy kind of number, with a bit of an ominous foreshadowing kind of feel to it. It's not as catchy as the opener, but it still works as a kind of further progression of the style of "Evolution" from the debut. The title track rocks out with a monster riff and a big, epic chorus that you'll be singing along to all day. All of these songs will really make you look forward to the rest of the album.
And it does not deliver! Fuck, I don't even know what to say about some of the other stuff on here. I appreciate Blaze's attempt to expand his musical repertoire, but it just doesn't work. "Nothing Will Stop Me" and "Leap of Faith" are soundly played; fast and heavy, but they just lack a certain something that the previous songs had, and they are not songs you will feel like playing again. "Meant to Be" is a bizarre atmospheric ballad that slugs on for six minutes and contains backing female vocals that I just don't like - they sound really off, not right at all with the kind of voice Blaze has. It's not a very exciting and it's a bit of experimentation that I am very thankful he never did again. Then we descend even further into mediocre experiments with the directionless, plodding chug of the almost nu-metal sounding "Land of the Blind" and "Stealing Time," which has a really annoying, limp chorus with a ton of distortion on it. Really irritating, actually. The last few songs are better, but still really nothing to write home about.
The problem here is that Blaze tried too hard to branch out of his usual musical box and failed to make an album that could captivate the listener. The songs don't go together that well, they are kind of boring, and again, why so much silly experimenting? The inspiration to create is intact, but the songwriting itself is just all over the map, and all it really does is lose the listener. It's just not that well put together. There are some passages where Blaze's vocals provide relief, as they are still pretty damned excellent even when the music lacks any kind of substance or enjoyability, but overall they just need to quit fucking around with vocal distortion and experimental weirdness and write good songs again. And thankfully they did with the next release.
After a very solid debut with Silicon Messiah, B L A Z E put out what is still my favorite album of theirs, by far. This concept album is extremely consistent throughout, with song quality ranging from decent to killer and not a single low point. Also, the quality of all the tracks on their own aside, they all work together so well that the album as a whole manages to be greater than its parts.
Throughout the course of the album, we get to several highlights, and yet it all works best when played as one from beginning to end, so I'll give more of a direct run-through than comments on the songs in and of themselves
The Intro "Forgotten Future" does not feature any real music, just strange noises that have a very futuristic sound, setting up the atmosphere. It then goes on into the first highlight "Kill and Destroy", very heavy speedy number that is borderline thrash metal, pure aggression, over into the decent "End Dream", which is rather slow and dark, a little doomier. "Tenth Dimension" is one of the longest tracks here and also one of the best, it speeding things up a bit more while retaining the heaviness and offering some really good songwriting ideas, from short bass-only riffing and atmospheric intro verses over the verses with their crushing riffage underneith, and another slow atmospheric middle passage - their second best epic number, behind only Stare at the Sun. "Nothing Will Stop Me" starts out slow and soft, much like a ballad, but then picks up over time and grows into a heavy, mid-paced anthem - and when it ends - bang! "Leap of Faith", one of the fastest songs on the album and one of the best anthems the band has written to date, almost on a par with "The Launch". Another definite highlight on this album. It then fades into "The Truth Revealed", a brief intro that is undivisibly connected to the ballad of the album, the very well-done "Meant to Be" - very emotional and yet powerful at the same time, something that not many a vocalist can pull off.
After that, we move on to to Land of the Blind, where the heaviness suddenly resumes. A crushing, dark mid-paced number which, apart from all other quality, rules simply by virtue of that one line in the chorus: "You think you got freedom now, that's how they hold you down!" Fucking class! We move on to the even better "Stealing Time", which manages to combine several well-thought changes in tempo and riffage, another very heavy number, overall midpaced although slightly faster than the one before. "Speed of Light" is the second up-beat track on the album, and the last highlight - the fastest song along with "Kill and Destroy" and "Leap of Faith", this one's basically screaming Speed Metal, only instead of the screaming, you have Bayley's trademark powerful mid-range vocals Finally we move on the the closer, "Stranger to the Light", probably the bands doomiest song ever, yet this one manages to work better than "The Hunger" did in spite of being about as long, offering sufficiant changes in melody and the crushing riffage to keep your attention - and towards the end, it resumes to the chorus of "The Tenth Dimension".
The Theme of the album - about the abuse of science by powerful authorities - is never pushed forward all that strongly, and unlike on Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime ( or many another concept album), is almost never portrayed through spoken passages, but solely through the songs themselves ( with roughly two exceptions in mid-track). It's all through the perspective of the involved scientist - to follow it, it is important to read the lyrics from the Booklet. By the way, a HUGE compliment for that one - both for the design (made out to look like a scientist's journal, featuring additional notes along the lyrics to go along) and for the content, in particular the notes by Blaze himself on the last page on both the making of the album and the story.
The bonus disk of the limited edition is also genius. It features four live tracks ( the excellent "The Launch", the good "Steel" and "Futureal", and the not so great "Evolution" which still has its moments), a good bonus Studio Track (Living Someone Else's Life), two mp3s from the previous album (also playable through Flash player), a video to the brilliant "Ghost in the Machine" from the previous album, and (probably the best of all), "Inside the Tenth Dimension", a making of of the album with interviews of the Band members, live footage in between and what have you. Classy.
Musically, it's the trademark BLAZE style as pioneered on the debut, but executed far better. Heavy guitars, plenty of quality riffs and solos, solid drumming and basswork, and Blaze's excellent, extremely powerful and atmospheric vocals ( bitch about his range for all you want, but when it comes to emotions, there is no vocalist as versatile as Blaze Bayley ). As said before, there are also several tracks that stand very well on their own live.
This is definitely one of the best concept albums out there, and by far the best album B L A Z E have come up with - a true must-have for all fans of modern Heavy Metal.
Rewritten because of having been rather sucky.
I only heard of them through Iron Maiden so I took the first album of the shelf.
The intro, Forgotten future, is more of an intro to Kill and Destroy than an intro to the album, so the two tracks could be put into one, which could also be said with tracks 7&8.
Anyway, kill and destroy is a kick-ass song with some power in, which is common for the first few songs in the album. nice intro riff, plus it maintains the power and aggression of the beginning to the end. Nice
And on to End Dream.
A bit slower than K&D, this song does pick up though, but the beginning is a bit of a wind-up, and it picks up just a little bit.
Tenth Dimension has a nice drum intro, and it's pretty damn fast., till the choruses, where it sorta pick-beat miss-beat basis. Bass and drum on the first bit of vox, but then a nice bit of guitar.
you need a nice bit of guitar.
Escpecially if it's fast and loud.
And played well.
Nothing Will Stop Me's intro sounds like it could fit onto some John Wayne film, then it goes and tears that idea up into pieces, thanks to the drums.
The Drums are always why my parents complain.
Say you've got a guitar intro which is a bit slow. "ahh, that's nice".
Drums come in. "What the hell is that noise".
Drums are SUPPOSED to be noisy, otherwise they wouldn't have those clangy bang bits on them.
Anyway, I think this song is probably the weakest on the album.
Leap Of Faith is a fast paced blitz (3mins38 to be precise).
Constant drum pace and Blaze's Vox also have a bit of Speed behind them.
The Truth Revealed and Meant to be.
I decided to put these together as they are the literally intro and outro, as they gel perfectly together.
Truth Revealed is a nice, slow song. Great for the zero-hours listening.
Part of the guitar playing is reminiscent of Hendrix, has the sound. Won't comment any further.
Meant to Be. Well, the above applies, as well as the fact this is 6 times longer than TTR, but due to mastering, it doesn't sound very good on its own.
There's nice bits with strings and some (female?) chanting-ish singing.
A very reflective song.
You can hear the bass quite easily, for all you bassophiliacs.
The strings and stuff feature more towards the end, but not after a coool riff.
Land of The Blind.
Good, with a constant woawwawawawoaw type guitar at the beginning (you can forget that if you don't understand the woaw thing. It's not too important).
Quite low key but not as low as Lame Biscuit, who don't know anything higher than the bass string and abuse it.
Stealing Time follows the same vein as LotB, as it is a bit low-key, but it has some high-ish pitch guitar in it.
Not much more to say, besides SOMEONE decided to make part of Blaze's vocals sound like one of those American-radio-played-through-TV-as-well sound, if you get what I mean.
I like it.
Speed Of Light is my favourite song on this album.
It goes that fast.
Stranger to the Light has got a bit of post-pissed sound at the beginning, which dissapates into a slow-moving song.
Well, That's it for the parts that are on the 'Other' version of Tenth Dimension.
The Live tracks, although great songs, are not totally convincing that they didn't just use crowd sampling. Then again, from different songs from setlists all over the place, there's not much you can show, but they can take a lesson from Maiden when it comes to sounding live.
Favourite of them is probably Futureal or Living Someone Else's Life.
I haven't been able to listen to the MP3's, but I think that they appear in Silicon Messiah and the EPK video doesn't work.
That Leaves me with the Ghost in the Machine video, which I haven't watched fully.
It's a nice bunch of extras to include to an already great album.
Well, the live songs could also pass off as studio ones so it's as if they recorded 5 extra songs for you. How considerate.
Maybve not a classic, but definately one of the best albums for a recently formed metal band to come up with. (not 'metal')
I'm also amazed at the fact that there's no swearing on this album, which shows that these people have AN IQ unlike Limp Bizkit have, even if they are actually rap music some pillock decide to label them as metal.
Enough of the bitch, BLAZE are an underrated band.
When you listen to Tenth Dimension you get a feeling of classic heavy metal, yet still quite modern with it's more raw and hard sound.
Blaze Bayley voice sounds great (as usual. I have always liked his voice) and fits perfectly in on this record. He sings on the level he can handle it, which makes the songs relaxed and not too much.
Steve Wray and John Slater are good guitarists, but I would have hoped that they could have done something more. The solos are nothing perticular. I miss some fast and really good solos...
Also Jeff Singer on drums are great. I would have liked to hear a longer drum solo, but it's alright.
Now over to the tracks. The songs in the beginning of the album (the first CD, the original album that is) are very good. Among these are "Kill And Destroy", "The Tenth Dimension" and "Leap Of Faith", which are almost perfect. The first half of the album is great, but the other half is not as powerful. It is just songs that doesn´t interest you and plays on without really listening to them.
The second CD are quite good too. Live versions of the great "The Launch" and "Futureal". MP3's of Silicon Messiah and Born as a Stranger and two videos... A good extra CD!
After all, this is a good album. Not as good as Silicon Messiah, but you will have a nice time with it in your stereo. I recomend to buy the Double-CD instead of the usual one...