Burning Point – The Blaze (AFM Records)

Sunday, 8th January 2017
Rating: 8.5/10

European melodic power metal has a certain segment appeal for its reliable, heroic-oriented melodies and musical hooks – beyond the facets of strong riffing, double bass, and catchy choruses. Burning Point has been a part of this scene since the fall of 1999, and made a big shift in the lineup for 2014 with guitarist Pete Ahohen stepping away from vocal duties, recruiting ex-Battle Beast singer Nitte Valo for the next chapter in the band’s career. After setting the stage with the half fresh, half re-recorded self-titled album of 2015, The Blaze appears to showcase a sextet adept at emphasizing it’s melodic, dynamic versatility while remaining cognizant of the tried and true power metal ways.

There’s no denying that when the group wishes to whirl out those speed-oriented riffs that contain uplifting harmonies and killer, lightning fast fill work for drums, the Helloween/early Edguy-oriented “Master Them All” and sinister “Chaos Rising” fit that aural bill nicely. Over the course of the eleven tracks though, you’ll notice more of a catchy factor that favors a lot of classic hard rock or 80’s metal influences. Keyboardist Jarkko Väisänen sprinkles a bright hook that takes on a dance-oriented veneer for “The Time Has Come”, allowing openness for the multi-octave range of Nitte, especially during the bridge and chorus. Pete’s affinity for the much-missed guitarist Gary Moore appears on the mid-tempo “My Spirit”, carefully executing bluesy licks that along with the organ underpinning make this one of The Blaze highlights. Neoclassical strains appear in the circular guitar/keyboard syncopation for “Dark Winged Angel”, while an epic, marching slant takes “Lost in Your Thoughts” into classic Rainbow/Dio range – Pete and Nitte teaming up for majestic vocal harmonies.

And for those ardent 80’s followers of the Canadian hard rock scene, Burning Point decide to tackle Lee Aaron’s “Metal Queen” as a bonus track – a perfect choice to illustrate the band’s care and talent, hopefully an anthem that hits the set lists on tour. The Blaze proves that if you want a long-lasting career, it’s not about being the fastest, the loudest, or the most extreme in this genre – it comes down to solid, individual songs where you can spotlight abilities in the right places.

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