Blaze Bayley – The King Of Metal – Review

To set the scene rewind about 14 years, transport yourself to London’s Brixton Academy, with Iron Maiden on the Virtual XI tour, which is when I last came across Blaze Bailey. To be honest Blaze and Maiden weren’t the match it might have seemed to many at the time and the Blaze years are certainly not regarded as Iron Maiden’s peak. I still remember seeing Wolfsbane at Surrey University in the UK around 1987-88 I think, when Wolfsbane were seen as rising stars in the post-NWOBHM era (I suppose this was the SWOBHM – Second Wave Of…) and Blaze was often cited as a Bruce Dickinson-in-the-making. Kind of came true when he joined Maiden, but that isn’t the story here.

Fast forward to last October, when Blaze Bayley played at Jaxx (now Empire) in Springfield, VA. This wasn’t a show I was excited about to be honest. It was more out of curiosity than any massive expectation – but I’m not ashamed to admit that was easily one of the best shows I saw all last year. I scored that show a 9/10, so it really was way up there, and the most surprising thing about that show was how totally committed Blaze was even thought there were only 30 or 40 people at the show! He ripped the place apart as if it was full and that totally earned him my respect, but more importantly the show was exceptional and I became a ‘fan’. He is an amazing live performer, so if you ever get the chance – go see him – you will not regret it.

After the tour was done, Blaze posted pretty much daily updates on his Facebook page as his new album took shape – great use of social media there Mr. Bayley. Engage your fans and they feel part of the experience, and just might shell out the $18 or so for the CD from his website (http://www.blazebayley.net/webshop/), which is just what I did. The first orders for the CD were to be signed by Blaze and sure enough the CD arrived with Blaze’s signature in silver sharpie – nice! Second note, the CD packaging and booklet are really nicely done, so more points to you Blaze. It’s clear thought and care went into this.

So, the album… the title might be seen as a little pretentious, but go with it, “The King Of Metal”. This is the opening track and a metal slab of massive proportions assaults your ears on first listen – this is a controlled demolition in sound form – a pounding double bass-drum number that riles against the music industry, leaving Blaze “The King Of Metal”. Who am I to argue? It works.

The second track is a missive about Dimbag Darell from Pantera, lamenting his murder in 2004. Blaze basically lays his heart on his sleeve for us to take a close look, even to give it a squeeze or two… nothing is held back. And so on the CD drives forward without a stumble as far as I’m concerned. Basically we’re at full-steam ahead, everything pegged on 11, until that is you reach track 6…

“One More Step” opens with a piano and progresses to a very simply exposed vocal from Blaze. No soaring production and none is needed. If anyone needs a dose of inspiration, this is it. Blaze isn’t a complicated fella and I believe this song comes straight from his life-story. I really dig this track and the way it is unexpectedly jammed in the middle of the flow of the CD makes it even more effective. Made me listen anyway.

The rest of the CD continues to deliver the metal. More words probably won’t help at this point, so if you want to find out more, do yourself a favor and buy the CD. I should mention the production on the whole album is exceptional, everything fits together very nicely.

So to close, just as his live show caught me by surprise, the album delivers more than I expected, though I have to say my expectation was high because of the live performance. . If I can be permitted one complaint in this diatribe of excessive praise – why only 10 tracks? I would have been sated at 12 tracks, but maybe quality over quantity….? Anyway, if you are a metal fan, this is a CD that SHOULD be in your collection. There are no real surprises here as Blaze has done the groundwork over many years and sure should know how to crank out a decent record so I’ll score this a very solid 8/10.

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4 Responses to “Blaze Bayley – The King Of Metal – Review”

  1. I am a HUGE Blaze fan…have every album from Wolfsbane through “King of Metal”. I have to say that I am not really digging this album yet. He set the bar EXTREMELY high with everything he’s done after Maiden: three brilliant albums with the “BLAZE” band produced by Andy Sneap, and the last two “Blaze Bayley” releases (with a proper band) maybe a hair below but still brilliant. “King of Metal” feels like what it is to me…a self-produced album recorded with a few hired-guns. There are a few moments where Blaze is horribly off pitch that shouldn’t have made the final cut. The song writing is by far the weakest of any of his solo albums (not bad, but not great). That being said, Blaze really delivers powerful, emotional, honest vocal performances…some of his best ever are on here. I just wish he had more time, more money, better players, and a real producer to help him with this album.

  2. Thanks Josh, good points, most particularly regarding the hired-guns musician aspect, which does come across on the record – there’s almost a feel of automation behind some of the music, or perhaps just too much of a session musician-ish feel to it. I will confess, the only other Blaze Bayley recording I have is Maiden’s Virtual XI, so your perspective is very valid. Time to pick up the back catalog!

    • The back catalog is AMAZING! If you prefer a little more classic approach, “The Tenth Dimension” is my fave of the BLAZE albums. If you want a little higher-energy, more modern approach, you can’t go wrong with either “The Man Who Would Not Die” or “Promise and Terror”!

  3. I think that The King of Metal is a good album.

    I recommend you to check out Silicon Messiah from 2000.

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