Blaze Bayley – The King Of Metal
The King Of Metal
I’ve been a staunch Blaze Bayley fan ever since my first Iron Maiden show in 1998. After his fairly unceremonious dismissal from Maiden in ’99, he put out four incredible solo albums (two as Blaze, two as Blaze Bayley) and a fifth that was simply “good” (that being Blood And Belief). After the amazing 2010 release of Promise And Terror, I was eagerly awaiting the follow-up. Sadly, I’m a bit disappointed. Gone is the entire backing band from The Man Who Would Not Die and Promise And Terror, and that’s generally a bad sign.
For starters, the production is incredibly muddy. And this is the same production team (Jase Edwards (of Blaze’s former former former band Wolfsbane) and Blaze himself) that had some serious quality on the last two albums? Umm…oops?
The opener “The King Of Metal” is about as cheesy as one would expect a skate across Manowar’s ice rink would be. The music isn’t bad; it’s somewhere between thrash and melo-death. However, it’s not what I was expecting when I popped in the CD. Dissection’s Storm Of The Light’s Bane is one of the best extreme metal albums of all time, but if you slapped a Symphony X logo on the cover, your perceptions of it would contort like Snooki’s brain trying to comprehend string theory.
“Dimebag” is a mixed (dime)bag…it’s a touching tribute, but a bit too contrived lyrically (it’s a literal rendering of the events). The music is great, however. “The Black Country” is a total piece of filler, featuring nothing but mid-tempo cliché riffs and fairly bad lyrics. Next, we have the “yet another band writing a tribute to Ronnie James Dio” song, “The Rainbow Fades To Black.” It’s a great nod to Dio musically (it comes off as a mix of “Neon Knights,” “Die Young,” and “A Light In The Black”), and Blaze has a very similar vocal style. After this, “Fate” is a great return to the traditional metal that Blaze is so good at.
The piano ballad “One More Step” is a bit weird. Blaze tries to sound emotional, and while he manages to soar for a bit, he eventually crashes and burns. It’s a bit hard to follow, but the lyrics are quite potent. Even after half a dozen listens, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly is going on here. “Fighter” an incredible epic, sounding similar to a mix between Virtual XI Iron Maiden and Blaze’s first two solo efforts. Galloping bass lines, great chorus, and a great instrumental section. Dare I call this “Clansman Part II?” Hands down, this is *the* highlight of the album.
“Judge Me” is a bit too “aggro-rock” for my taste. The intro riff is awesome, but the verses are pretty bad (yes, Blaze’s post-Maiden life has been a train wreck of band turmoil; his first wife died 18 months after they got married; that kind of stuff). It’s pretty low to essentially ask for pity through one of your songs. “Difficult” is yet more in the “feel bad for me” vein, but, outside of the random slowdown in the middle part, a halfway decent song. “Beginning” closes out the album (that’s not confusing) as a very bland acoustic ballad without the emotion that “One More Step” has.
There’s not a lot of killer material here like there was on his previous solo albums, and I really can’t say I enjoyed it after internally hyping it up based on Blaze’s track record. “The Rainbow Fades To Black,” “Fate,” and “Fighter” are the only songs I can recommend that don’t involve duct tape and an individual you have a serious gripe with.
Kylie’s rating: 2.0 out of 5