Friday, 14 April 2017

Album Review: BLAZE BAYLEY - Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II)

Blaze Bayley - Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II)


01, Endure And Survive
02. Escape Velocity
03. Blood
04. Eating Lies
05. Destroyer
06. Dawn Of The Dead Son
07. Remember
08. Fight Back
09. The World Is Turning The Wrong Way
10. Together We Can Move The Sun

I must confess that I've lost touch with Blaze Bayley's musical output over the years, aside from that God-awful Crazy Christmas song he released last year. I used to like Wolfsbane, and remember being really excited when he was announced as the new singer in Iron Maiden, even though I couldn't imagine his voice working with Maiden at all. Unlike many Metal fans out there, I actually enjoyed the two Iron Maiden albums he sang on. Both The X-Factor and Virtual XI had some great songs on them. 

Was that era of Iron Maiden as good as what went before? In my humble opinion, no. That applies to both Maiden and Blaze himself, as I think his voice works better with the rowdy Punk tinged Hard Rock of Wolfsbane, than it ever did in the more soaring, borderline operatic world of Iron Maiden.

Aside from the last Wolfsbane album, the only Blaze album I bought since he left Iron Maiden was his debut Silicon Messiah. Although it's easily on a par with The X-Factor and Virtual XI, I listened to it a few times and rarely went back to it. I heard a few bits from subsequent albums, but nothing inspired me to investigate them further. I decided to check out this new album for old times' sake, and to see if Blaze had made anything to rekindle my interest.

Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) sounds pretty much as I expected. It's as though Blaze hired a bunch of Metal musicians, probably all from a struggling unsigned band, and said "Hey guys, I'll pay you to write me some instrumental songs and make them sound as much like Iron Maiden as possible, without obviously ripping off any specific track", then wrote some lyrics and vocal lines in the same style as he did when he was in Maiden, and Voila! Another Blaze Bayley album is born!

In fairness, this isn't a terrible album. It's actually quite good in places, albeit predictable. Dawn of the Dead Son is probably the best song of the bunch, closely followed by the album's anomaly that is Remember, which has a Folk vibe reminiscent of Jethro Tull. I listened to the whole album in its entirety twice, but that was enough for me.

Here's where I believe the problem lies. Wolfsbane were popular in the UK, but they were never huge. It's only when Blaze joined Iron Maiden that he became a household name in the world of Metal. Now for Blaze to continue to make a living from music in these difficult times, he needs to appeal to the Iron Maiden fans who loved the albums he made with them. Wolfsbane clearly doesn't pay the bills. A solo album in more of a Motorhead, or early Almighty direction would suit his voice down to the ground, but it wouldn't appeal to the majority of his 'post-Maiden' fan base, and again would fail to pay the bills. To keep himself as a financially viable artist, he needs to continue to appeal to the Maiden fans and this means that his solo albums will always sound this way.

There's a lot of love out there for Blaze, mainly because he's seen as an underdog who relentlessly perseveres through every raw deal life throws at him. I get that. However, I couldn't give a flying fuck about pretentious epic stories dragged over three concept albums. That kind of thing is best left to people like ex-Queensryche main man Geoff Tate.

Personally, I would like to hear him play Metal that's musically less like Iron Maiden, and more Rock n' Roll with the fun, yet badass biker attitude that was captured on Wolfsbane's classic live album Massive Noise Injection. I'm not going to hold my breath though.

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