Blaze Bayley – War Within Me
Blaze Bayley Recording
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 41:47
Review by Simon Black
Now those that know me well know I have a deep and long held love for Iron Maiden. They may also know that despite the fact, that back in the day, I was hugely impressed by Bayley’s performances in Wolfsbane, that sadly the stars really did not quite align when it came to him filling the empty spot left on the monitors when Bruce Dickinson went into the wilderness. What he has done since though has been pretty consistently good and he’s one of the hardest working acts on the block, so let’s treat those Maiden years for what they were – a blip in a career that’s otherwise been pretty consistent quality wise.
And it must be said that this record is probably the best thing I have heard from him in a very long time…
Musically this is all about Chris Appleton and the guys from Absolva, but Bayley isn’t just overlaying here and feels like he’s been a core part of the writing process as his vocal work interweaves beautifully with the instrumentalists. Some real thought has gone into targeting the sound that they want to achieve here, which is like a virtual tour around the delivery aspects and sounds that Bayley’s associated best with. The upshot of all this is that it feels like a cohesive band, rather than a solo project plus backing band more than any of the previous post-Maiden outings I have heard. It sounds like it should be a concept album, but it isn’t – that said there are themes that recur and a positive upbeat tinge to the lyrics, which contrasts with the musical tone. There’s a strong thematic block near the end of the record in particular that explores the respect held for scientific pioneers, so three tracks tell stories about Alan Turing, Nikolai Tesla and Stephen Hawking respectively – it’s almost like finding an EP hidden within the larger album.
The style is very much NWOBHM influenced Power Metal, but with a more understated technical dimension to the guitar work that is quite exceptionally talented. Equally some of the guitar parts are a bit Maidenesque, as is the vocal phrasing which echoes his brief tenure of walking among giants. It’s a strong blending of sounds that means it going to appeal to the broadest base of his audience and I would be very keen to see this material live.
This is an album that’s really growing on me because every time I sit down to write the review, I find myself stopping to simply listen and enjoy the songs. That happens rarely with me, especially when I have a (virtual) teetering pile of records to listen to with release dates in the past. But I can’t help it, and neither will you if this grabs you. A palpable hit, Mr Bayley.
‘War Within Me’ (Audio)
01. War Within Me
04. Pull Yourself Up
05. Witches Night
06. 18 Flights
07. The Dream of Alan Turing
08. The Power of Nikola Tesla
09. The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking
10. Every Storm Ends
Blaze Bayley – Vocals
Christopher Appleton – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Martin McNee – Drums
Karl Schramm – Bass
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