Sunday 14 May 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Blaze Bayley - “Infinite Entanglement” and “Endure and Survive”

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Lengths
Date Released: 18/03/2016 |
Label: Blaze Bayley Records


Both “Infinite Entanglement” and “Endure and Survive” are the best work of his entire career, better than Wolfsbane, better than his tenure with Maiden and better than his past solo work.  Blaze's fire is burning brighter than ever

“Infinite Entanglement” and “Endure and Survive” track listing:

“Infinite Entanglement” CD//DD//LP

1). Infinite Entanglement
2). A Thousand Years
3). Human
4). What Will Come
5). Stars Are Burning
6). Solar Wind
7). The Dreams of William Black
8). Calling You Home
9). Dark Energy 256
10). Independence
11). A Work of Anger
12). -

“Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) CD//DD”

1). Endure and Survive
2). Escape Velocity
3). Blood
4). Eating Lies
6). Dawn of the Dead Son
7). Remember
8). Fight Back
9). The World is Turning the Wrong Way
10). Together We Can Move the Sun

The Review:

Blaze Bayley needs no real introduction, but he will get one here anyway. He is one of only three men to front the greatest metal band of them all: Iron Maiden. He is also a man who has often been unfairly maligned and even ignored both during his stint with Maiden and as a solo artist. Blaze's era of Maiden was different- but by no means was it no good. “The X Factor” is actually an album that has really grown on me in recent months; it's dark, complex and epic- it has made its way up the rankings in my own list of Maiden albums (“Killers” is still my favourite). “Virtual XI” has some good moments too; “Futurereal” and “The Clansman” are both bona fide classics for a start.

That was then, though. The current album cycle that Blaze is in is both now and, literally and metaphorically, the future. I can't believe I missed out on “Infinite Entanglement” last year, but I did. For those of you in the same boat, let me bring you up to speed: Blaze has embarked on a trilogy of albums with a full Sci-fi concept. Not only that, but the three albums tell an ongoing story based around the compelling character of William Christopher Black. “Infinite Entanglement” sets the scene for Black's journey into space and his own journey of self discovery. He has members of the metal band Absolva in tow rounding out the line-up and they deliver expertly. The music here sits on the Maiden/Priest trajectory with a more modern edge. This is trad/power/thrash or... just metal, if you prefer.

As soon as I listened to the album, really listened, I engaged with the story immediately. Blaze has gone all out here; there are voice actors for narration and links between tracks, unusual instrumentation on a couple of tracks (“What Will Come” is a vocal tour de force and features violin) and the whole album is really well produced. It's bright, clear and powerful with Blaze's voice taking centre stage and showing an impressive depth that has developed since his Maiden days. I have listened to this album countless times over recent weeks and I never skip a track. It's a journey, it's a story, and it’s an aural experience. It represents the very best of what heavy metal can be; it's epic, grandiose, and technically excellent and it delivers on every level.

Try out the first four tracks and see if you feel the same way. It's also insanely catchy. The hooks and melodies really get into your head. I'll be honest and say I was really surprised by just how good the album is. As the first in a trilogy, it's a barnstormer. Twelve tracks (well, ten and two interludes) with not a moment wasted.

Fortunately, getting into “Infinite Entanglement” when I did meant I did not have to wait long for “Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II)” which was released in March of this year. This time around Blaze and the band have opted for a darker feel. The production is once again excellent, with arguably a better mix, and the record plots a dangerous course. I was once again pleasantly surprised to find that the quality of songs lasts the whole way through the album. It's another cracker. Start to finish, it's a worthy listen. The title track is first up and sets the tone for an album about struggle, turmoil and determination. “Escape Velocity” is catchy and triumphant, before we learn about William Black's past in “Blood”. If anything, “Endure and Survive” is more epic than the first album of the series; huge choruses, sweeping melodies, great performances and an ensemble cast around the central four players. I won't ruin the story for you but things finish on a cliff-hanger here, as they did with the first record of the trilogy.

As “Endure and Survive” progresses, the story moves on and there are some real stand out songs along the way; “Destroyer”, “Fight Back”, “The World Is Turning The Wrong Way”... all absolute winners. Blaze and band have written and recorded an outstanding album again here. It's deep, epic, engaging and fully realized.

Blaze is now two albums into this trilogy, I can't wait for part three- due next year- and would recommend the first two albums to anyone with an interest in trad/power/epic metal with big vocals and strong performances. In closing, consider this: Blaze Bayley is a fully independent artist. He puts out his own albums, tours relentlessly and gets very little by way of mainstream exposure. He has now released eight (!) solo albums. In a fair world, these two records would put him at the top of the metal tree. Both “Infinite Entanglement” and “Endure and Survive” are the best work of his entire career, better than Wolfsbane, better than his tenure with Maiden and better than his past solo work (“Silicon Messiah” and “The Man Who Would Not Die” are both very good also). Blaze's fire, then, is burning brighter than ever. Bring on part three!

“Infinite Entanglement” and “Endure and Survive” are available here

Band info: facebook