BLAZE: The Rankings (Completed... At Last)

Jer

My sins are many
Blaze Bayley - Promise And Terror
  • Watching The Night Sky - Nice harmonized main riff. Unfortunately Blaze is missing notes. The vocal rhythm on the verse and pre-chorus is "Man On The Edge" again? Jesus. The chorus is better, but not good enough. Great solo followed by a strong harmonized section! Not sold on the "whoah-oh" bridge where Blaze is buried under the guitar lead. I guess this does enough to round up to a 6/10.
  • Madness And Sorrow - Driving, Megadeth-ish main riff. Ooh, the rhythmic bits under the verse are cool! Blaze sounds good on the verse. Hmm, the grunted part of the pre-chorus sucks (though the title lyric sounds nice), and the chorus is kind of a jumbled mess. A couple of great solos followed by a good one. Nice Metallica-ish ending. This is another song with mostly great music, but the vocal choices bring it down. 6/10.
  • 1633 - Nice bass intro with guitar accents. The guitarist is pretending to be James Hetfield again. Blaze sounds good on the verse, but he seems lower in the mix for some reason. I like the thick harmonies on the rhythm guitars. Not big on the chorus ("in holy flame"). Some phrasing problems on the second verse. I like the bass-driven interlude. WTF is with this bridge? Blaze sounds uncontrolled and shitty here. This variant pre-chorus sounds a bit better, but Blaze's melody clashes with the guitars. Nice solo & harmonized interlude! Ooh, I like the "and so we turn" part! More icky chorus and we're done. Yet another song with great music, but bad vocal elements that drag it down a lot. 5/10.
  • God Of Speed - This opening riff is pretty slow given the title of the song. OK, here comes a higher speed lead. Unfocused verse, though Blaze sounds good here. Sparse pre-chorus and a really lackluster chorus (though the harsh rhythm guitars at the start of the chorus are kind of interesting). Very nice melodic solo followed by a cool speedy one. Hey, here's an interesting aggressive riff! (Production fail when the second guitar comes in.) This bridge is pretty good, though Blaze misses some notes. More snoozy chorus, and then we get a pretty good ending. This song almost changed my mind in the second half, but in the end I think I still have to round it down to 5/10.
  • City Of Bones - Marching drums introduce another In Flames style lead. I really like the groove here. Decent verse with great guitar accompaniment. Questionable phrasing in parts. Disappointing chorus that doesn't go anywhere. Excellent solo! Nice marching interlude with a cool "ah-ah" choral section. A sweet harmonic interlude and a pretty good solo follow. More verse and chorus and a reprise of the "ah-ah" section brings things to a close with a big rock ending. Excellent music throughout, but a merely "good enough" verse and a disappointing chorus bring this down to a 7/10.
  • Faceless - A very busy rhythm & lead break into a driving verse. Blaze doesn't sound the best here. The pre-chorus is decent. The chorus is "meh". These overly repetitive drums are getting annoying. OK solo. So-so bridge with some vocal problems. Hmm, this one's pretty forgettable, but there's nothing particularly bad about it. 5/10.
  • Time To Dare - A driving riff and melodic lead carry into an OK verse. Some phrasing and control problems here. Weak pre-chorus. The chorus is OK, but pretty anemic. Ooh, nice soft interlude! Blaze sounds pretty good here. The heavy verse is OK, but has some control problems. (Oh hey, this is the stealth title track!) A great solo followed by a pretty good one. Another nice melodic interlude, and a final chorus slows and morphs into an outro. Kinda "meh", but it probably does enough to eke out a 6/10.
  • Surrounded By Sadness - Very pretty acoustic intro. Blaze sounds good here, but the phrasing really sucks. Nice interplay with the bass. Jesus, what was he thinking with the "sa-AD-ness SU-rou-ou-OU-ound-ing ME" phrasing? It sounds terrible, and he does it over and over again. The heaviness kicks in with an OK harmonized lead. Blaze sounds pretty great on the bridge, and the variant of the chorus with vocal harmonization is less annoying. This could've been great, but the vocal performance issues knock it down to 6/10.
  • The Trace Of Things That Have No Words - We roll right into this midtempo groove. Blaze struggles through an overly busy verse, then we get a nice melodic lead. Hard pause and back to the icky verse. Hey, this pre-chorus is good! The chorus is decent, but not very catchy. Another round of verse through chorus and we get a decent aggressive interlude followed by a pretty good solo. The variant half-a-capella verse is marginally better. Probably a 6/10 overall.
  • Letting Go Of The World - A nice clean arpeggiated intro with sweet harmonized acoustic accompaniment. Blaze sounds OK here, still having some phrasing issues. Things get heavier and Blaze gets less controlled. Not a fan of the vocal line mostly doubling the guitar here. Strong melodic solo! Ew, this bridge is terrible. A random aggressive guitar breakdown leads into a better aggressive interlude. WTF is with the "fight, kill, fuck, eat" part? Another good aggressive interlude leads into a strong solo. The final title lyrics sound pretty good too. But in the end, sadly, another case of strong music brought down by bad vocal choices. 5/10.
  • Comfortable In Darkness - A dark clean intro supports a pretty good soft vocal from Blaze. Bad phrasing again. Nice vocal harmonies on the pre-chorus! The chorus itself is kinda "meh" and repetitive. Decent melodic interlude. Hey, the bridge is good! I like the softer vocals toward the end, too. I think this does enough to earn a 6/10.
Well, this one was more consistent than The Man Who Would Not Die, but unfortunately it's more consistently mediocre, so it also lands at an average rating of 5.7/10 in the end. Nothing scored below a 5/10, but there was only one song that could muster a 7/10 ("City Of Bones"), making this a disappointing outing.

Once again the band is the star of the show, while Blaze manages to dull their great music with chronic phrasing and voice control problems, and an apparent inability to craft consistently compelling vocal melodies. He has his moments, of course, but it's rare for him to be able to put it all together in the same song.

I guess this was the end of Blaze's collaboration with the Bermudez brothers. I've heard that The King Of Metal, which is up next, is pretty widely considered to be his worst album. I'll need to steel myself for it...
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I've heard that The King Of Metal, which is up next, is pretty widely considered to be his worst album. I'll need to steel myself for it...
Some like it, but knowing you I would not expect anything less than a complete 0/10.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...


Background Info:
Released:
March 8, 2012
Label: Blaze Bayley
Producer: Blaze Bayley

Personnel:
Blaze Bayley
(vocals)
Thomas Zwijsen (guitar)
Andrea Neri (guitar)
Lehmann (bass)
Claudio Tirincanti (drums)

Critical Reviews:
"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….?" ~NovaMetalReviews

"At least listenable, albeit a disappointing affair." ~SignOfTheCrosshair (Metal Archives)

"I had enjoyed most of Blaze's solo albums and their high and lows up until this point, but found The King of Metal to be incredibly mediocre to put it mildly. Listening again to the album has reinforced my opinion from back when it was released: do not waste your time with it again. Very poor." ~GhostofCain (MaidenFans)

~~~ Diesel's Opinions ~~~

Tracks:
  1. "The King of Metal" - A short and concise opening to the album, "The King of Metal" may sound vain until you realize that Blaze isn't talking about himself - he's talking about his fans. Hence, "You are the King!" It's... not the greatest thing ever. The verses have some meh singing from Blaze, and while the pre-chorus is quite nice, the actual chorus isn't anything special. I do enjoy it, but against his entire discography it's not an outstanding track. I think I'll give it a 4/10, but it could possibly also achieve a 5 status down the line.
  2. "Dimebag" - Writing a song about Dimebag Darrell's shooting did not appeal to me at all, but upon listening to the track I actually love it! Some of the lyrics are meh, but Blaze does a fantastic job with this retelling. It's obviously a very emotional subject for him, which you can hear in his voice as he sings. I will say that these vocals in the verses sound like the "bleating sheep / goats" thing Jer once said, but I don't mind them at all honestly. The music is also great - the soft opening and closing bookend it nicely, and the guitars are on fire throughout. The "Walk" riff in the final chorus is a nice homage to the legend and a reminder of what the song is about. 9/10, only brought down by some lyrics. Fantastic song.
  3. "The Black Country" - There isn't much to this song... but that being said, it's more enjoyable than "The King of Metal" and just overall a fairly nice little romp. Not a fan of the constant "metal" stuff in the lyrics but this one isn't too offensive actually. A 6/10, but nearly a 7.
  4. "The Rainbow Fades to Black" - Enjoyable song and better lyrics than most have had thus far. The part where Blaze sings with radio-ified vocals is the absolute highlight; love it. Overall enough pros to give it a 7/10.
  5. "Fate" - Another enjoyable song, the best one on here thus far after "Dimebag". A couple things hold it back, but overall it's a 7/10 that's nearly an 8.
  6. "One More Step" - While Blaze is "screaming in [his] head", I'm in tears. Backed by nothing other than a piano, Blaze lets it all loose with a beautiful song which feels like it's a chapter of his life aired out for all the world to hear. The pure emotion in his voice is astounding. Just a perfect song. 10/10
  7. "Fighter" - Great song, wouldn't feel amiss on Promise and Terror, honestly. Blaze does a great job, as do the guitarists, and the "get up, get up, get up one more time" and the "speech" thing at the end are surprisingly inspiring. I think I can round this up to an 8/10.
  8. "Judge Me" - Blaze's second religious excursion, I think it's far and away better than the awful "The Path & The Way", which doesn't say much but this is still a good song. I think it's got a lot of the right ingredients within it. The ending is a bit repetitive but I've gotten used to it by now. The lyrics are rather interesting, and while not his best, don't hurt the song much. All around I think it's quite good enough to receive a 7/10 vote.
  9. "Difficult" - Pretty great song. All of it is good, but I really like his very personal quieter segment halfway through. I've got far more positives I could heap on this song than negatives, but I don't think it quite stands out enough against his best songs for a 9 - it thus receives a very well deserved 8/10.
  10. "Beginning" - Did you forget that Thomas Zwijsen is on this album? Well here's an acoustic number to remind you of this fact! Excellent album closer, not quite perfect but close enough. Blaze and the acoustic guitar work well together in this little message to all his listeners. A very high 9/10.
Overall: Undoubtedly, this is most often referred to as Blaze's worst album. I hear everything that its haters do and I understand quite well what they dislike about it. It's certainly the most obvious example of everything someone like Jer dislikes about Blaze's voice, the lyrics aren't always too great, and you can tell it doesn't really feel like a band project. All that said, it's a very nice way to spend 50 minutes or so. It starts out with some less personal songs - excluded the surprisingly great "Dimebag" - but from "One More Step" till the end, it really feels like he opened himself up and sang about things that were very personal, and he does a good job. The album was dedicated all his fans, and you can tell that's the frame of mind he had when assembling it - maybe it hurt the album, maybe it didn't. It's also full with a bunch of 'letters' to his fans, for lack of a better word. Overall, I like it. Enjoyable album, not perfect, but good enough.
Rating: 75%
Best Songs: "One More Step", "Dimebag", "Beginning"

Soundtracks of My Life:
  • "Russian Holiday" - Going by the title, I never really expected something as emotional as this is. Pretty great song, a near 9, but the ending isn't quite as good as the beginning, so it'll have to settle for an 8/10 for now.
  • "Hatred" - Heavy as fuck song. The beginning was a little confusing because of it, but the song is a pretty great one. A strong 8/10 score is justified.
  • "Eating Children" - With motherfucking awesome title like "Eating Children", I was expecting a lot more from this song, but I didn't get it. Still enjoyable though, but little more than just above average. Blaze sounds good though. 6/10
Decent selection of songs.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
Blaze Bayley - The King of Metal

  • The King of Metal - The first thing that hits me is the noticeably poorer production compared to Blaze's previous albums. The song itself has managed to grow on me somewhat (I absolutely hated it in the beginning), but there are some issues with it that unfortunately plague the entire album. I think 5/10 is generous here.
  • Dimebag - So, probably the best known track on the album, solely because it's an obvious tribute to, well, Dimebag. Just in case you couldn't figure it out from the title, the lyrics are so painstakingly specific about what happened the night he was shot. I am not and will never be a fan of that kind of writing, sorry Blaze. The music itself is average, but better than the title track, so it's a 6/10 for me.
  • The Black Country - After "God of Speed" on Promise and Terror, this is the second motorcycle-song Blaze has written. It's actually enjoyable enough, but never manages to become really good. A better chorus could've worked wonders. 6/10.
  • The Rainbow Fades to Black - Okay, is this a tribute to Dio or not? I think I read about it some time ago, but I'm not sure. If it is the case, however, it's a much better tribute than "Dimebag" - the riff is similar to Sabbath's "Neon Knights" and Blaze's phrasing on the verses sounds like something that could've come from Dio's solo career. The lyrics are decent, as are the guitar melodies, but the chorus could've been just a little bit better. Still a 7/10 overall, and the best one so far.
  • Fate - A short rocker with some fine guitarwork, but without much depth. It's neither particularly good nor bad by any means, so another 6/10.
  • One More Step - What's the point of this song, honestly? It doesn't go anywhere, and Blaze's performance (which I admit is heartfelt and emotional) doesn't quite fit - too much belting over some laidback piano. Had it managed to build itself up to a proper climax it would've been much better, because there ARE a few good melodies there. Unfortunately, I don't feel it's more than a 4/10.
  • Fighter - A hint to whichever guitarist wrote this song: extended guitar melodies and harmonies aren't interesting when they're just repeating the same thing over and over with little variation. What's with the overly happy melodies, by the way? Is this some kind of sports event? The fast part after the "get up, get up"-thing is very bad in particular, the guitars/bass are all over the place. 5/10.
  • Judge Me - This is actually pretty nice. The clean parts are good, the bass licks/harmonics are decent, and the solos are better than most on the album. The heavy parts are still a little messy, but I still think it's worth a 7/10.
  • Difficult - Uneven song. There are a few melodies that I liked, but the whole thing seems quite disjointed overall. 5/10.
  • Beginning - Oh, this is a much better ballad than "One More Step". At times it's dark and atmospheric, at others it's emotional and uplifting. I really like it. I'm also glad it's placed last on the album, as it - at least to me - seems to herald that the true "new beginning" for Blaze is coming with his next album instead of this one, meaning that it's really just a transitional phase where he's trying to find himself again. 7/10.

The King of Metal is definitely Blaze's weakest album, but I think it's just as important for him (and us) as the rest of his discography. After letting go of the band that played on The Man... and Promise and Terror, he had to figure out some stuff and how to do things as a "true" solo artist, and while most of it didn't work out quite as good here, I honestly believe that the Infinite Entanglement-trilogy that were to come next contains some of his very best ideas. The King of Metal may be largely forgotten as time goes by, but at least some of it deserves to be remembered for various reasons.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
Blaze Bayley - Soundtracks of My Life

  • Russian Holiday - This is a pretty heartfelt song. I'm still not a fan of "this happened, then that happened"-type of lyrics, but they work well here as Blaze describes life on the road, and how he misses the people he has at home. The faster part is pretty good, too. Actually, I think this tune is better than most of the songs on The King of Metal. 7/10.
  • Hatred - God, this feels messy, but there's interesting stuff happening underneath it all. The light synth is a nice touch, and Blaze's multi-tracked vocals are different from what he usually does. Again, it's better than most of the songs on The King of Metal. 7/10.
  • Eating Children - Silly song. A few of the riffs are actually very good, but that's it. Just a 6/10.

None of these songs belong among Blaze's best, but they're good enough to be a nice addition to his first greatest hits compilation, which IMO definitely is worth getting.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...


Background Info:
Released:
March 18, 2016
Label: Blaze Bayley Recordings
Producer: Blaze Bayley / Chris Appleton

Personnel:
Blaze Bayley
(vocals)
Chris Appleton (guitar)
Martin McNee (drums)
Karl Schramm (bass)

Critical Reviews:
"Ultimately, I think that Infinite Entanglement is a really good record. Repeated listens have resulted in an album that continually grows on me. I regularly find myself singing the songs while I’m doing other things and wanting to come back again and again. I love the concept and the team writing the music for him are the best he’s had in a decade." ~AngryMetalGuy

""Infinite Entanglement" is a brilliant album. It is solidly positioned in the traditional metal genre, but still manages to be epic in scope and rich in sound and atmosphere. I am sure that many will find this to be the best album of Blaze's career - not just as a solo artist but over his entire career as a professional musician. For my money, it belongs up there with classic metal concept albums such as "Operation: Mindcrime" and "Abigail"." ~TimeSignature (MetalMusicArchives)

"I've just been listening to Infinite Entanglement, and I have to say there are some great ideas in there and it's a fun listen (I'm loving "Human"), but it definitely suffers from bad production. This album just sounds like a demo tape." ~THESEVENTHMARINER (MaidenFans)

~~~ Diesel's Opinions ~~~

Tracks:
  1. "Infinite Entanglement" - The title track opens with a building hum and suddenly clicks on into a guitar and drum build-up. A female narrator joins this to open the tale of William Black, and I'm getting fucking chills up and down my spine. The build-up proceeds until Blaze himself joins in for verse 1. His singing here isn't great, but luckily he manages to get it together by the "nothing exists" bit and succeeds tremendously with verse two. And then we get the chorus, which is fantastic. Some great soloing on display as well. The choir in the background elevates it greatly, too. Fantastic song, fantastic lyrics, fantastic way to open up his trilogy and while the first verse isn't the best, there is just so much greatness here that I cannot give it anything less than a 10/10. An incredible song.
  2. "A Thousand Years" - This album is on a fucking roll. The opener was great, but "A Thousand Years" continues the concept superbly. Blaze sounds great, the band sounds great, it all sounds great. Fantastic verses and fantastic chorus. That's two 10/10s in a row. Excellent song.
  3. "Human" - "Human" is a bit of a step down from the quality of the first two songs, but it isn't bad, just weaker. The bad production that this album is criticized for is on display here, as the drums in the verses sound terrible. Blaze is also not too great there, but he succeeds on the chorus, the last of which is legitimately great. Still, I think I have to round this down to a 7/10. Decent song but should've been better.
  4. "What Will Come" - But the album knocks it out of the park again with this acoustic track. Backed by Thomas Zwijsen's calm and controlled guitarwork, and Anne Bakker's exquisite violin playing, Blaze does an excellent job telling of William Black's launch into the atmosphere. Somehow these three never seem to be able to do any wrong; they complement each other perfectly. Giving it anything less than 10/10 would undersell it entirely.
  5. "Stars Are Burning" - The metalness returns, but this time it feels a little quiet due to the production - but I don't mind it because it still doesn't sound bad. "Stars Are Burning" has great verses and an interesting kind of chorus, and everything works together quite nicely. It's not as good as the three songs I've already given top honors, so I'll round it down to a 9/10, but it's really very good.
  6. "Solar Wind" - Another good song follows on in the form of "Solar Wind". Everything sounds good, Blaze and the music work well together, but it's not quite as outstanding as other songs. It is good enough to warrant an 8/10, however. Good listen.
  7. "The Dreams of William Black" - A fantastic supplement to the album, but it isn't really a song, so in all faith I can't give it more than a 5/10. It works perfectly, though.
  8. "Calling You Home" - This album really can't stop exceeding all expectations, can it? "Calling You Home" opens with a great couple of verses before exploding into a fantastic, beautiful chorus. Blaze and the music are awesome together in the track. The instrumental section is long but oh-so worthy, as it builds up the final, exquisite chorus that ends the song. It's enough to bring out tears. 10/10, might actually be the best song on here but I'm not quite sure about that.
  9. "Dark Energy 256" - For the most part a balls-out rocker, "Dark Energy 256" is a really great listen, easy to headbang to, but also helps the story as we see that something rather sinister may be in the background here. Everything works and it's really great enough for another 9/10 rating.
  10. "Independence" - Another great song as the album winds to a close. Simple but effective chorus, good vocals, and an instrumental section that feels very Maiden-esque (a couple bits remind me of "Fear of the Dark"). Another 9/10 is warranted.
  11. "A Work of Anger" - "A Work of Anger" is basically the album's closer, and what a closer. Quieter but with plenty of power, Blaze sounds great, particularly on the "Heeeeere IIIII aaaam, your work of aaaaaaannnnger!" bits. Superhuman. Awesome song. 9/10
  12. "Shall We Begin" - Less than a minute long, but effective, as it leaves you wanting to know what happens next. I'll give it a 3/10 though, because it's really not a song.
Overall: Blaze knocked it out of the park on Silicon Messiah, but sixteen years later he did it again and actually topped that album with Infinite Entanglement. Most of the songs on here are perfect or nearly perfect, and there's nothing really bad whatsoever. The production is a little weak but it doesn't bother me much, and Blaze is very strong through most of it. Excellent songs and excellent lyrics guide the story (which is a little confusing because the plot isn't directly spelled out, but it doesn't necessarily matter). Blaze obviously learned from Tenth Dimension how to make a concept album, and with narrative bits and sounds and stuff stitches these songs together into an involving tale that leaves you wanting more. An excellent beginning to the trilogy but an excellent album in its own right as well. Really, really, really fantastic.
Rating: 97%
Best Songs: "Infinite Entanglement", "A Thousand Years", "What Will Come", "Calling You Home"
 

Jer

My sins are many
Blaze Bayley - The King Of Metal
  • The King Of Metal - Fuzzy production. Blaze is uncontrolled and missing notes throughout the verse and pre-chorus. There's a weird Faith No More vibe to the pre-chorus and bridge, but not in a good way. The chorus is empty, repetitive, and terrible. Weird video game bleeps coming out of the guitar during what I guess is supposed to be the solo, while Blaze chatters on underneath. Abrupt ending. Well, that was awful. I can't say it was 100% bereft of musical value, so I'll give it a 2/10, but it's definitely the worst thing I've ever heard out of Blaze to date.
  • Dimebag - A soft intro with sleepy Blaze opens up into a nicer harmonized lead. Blaze sounds uncontrolled and over the top. Shit phrasing, lame vocal melody. The chorus is marginally better, but still weak. The build-up to the bridge and the bridge itself are nice. The interlude and solo are OK, but uninspiring. Another shit verse. Terrible vocal harmonies on the chorus. The tempo changes might have been nice in a better song. The soft ending is pretty nice. I'm on the fence with this one, but I'll be nice and round it up to a 4/10.
  • The Black Country - An OK melodic lead gives way to a basic heavy riff. Blaze seems to be reveling in his completely uncontrolled singing -- his timbre is all over the place and he doesn't seem to care if he hits the notes or not. Terrible phrasing, too. The forgettable verse gives way to a marginally better pre-chorus and a lame but not completely worthless chorus. A decent bass interlude gives way to a pretty good first solo but a boring harmonized bit. More crummy vocals and a particularly cringey outro based around the title lyric. Bad overall, but not as terrible as the title track. 3/10.
  • The Rainbow Fades To Black - A very basic rock groove and some forgettable lead work kick off an OK verse. Blaze still sounds bad, but a little less bad than the past few songs. Wow, that chorus sucked. Blaze's vocal melody clashes with the guitars in a number of places. A couple of OK solos lead into Blaze trying to be Scott Weiland and failing miserably. WTF am I listening to? A pretty good solo keeps me from slitting my wrists, then we're back into that WTF chorus. The outro is slightly better. I guess there's enough non-awful stuff here to round up to a 3/10.
  • Fate - A peppy drum bit leads into a simple but appealing riff. Blaze is still uncontrolled and missing notes, but the fundamentals of the verse, pre-chorus, and chorus are basically sound. Nice supporting guitar lead. A strong solo followed by a nice harmonized section. The "oh-oh" section is a little anemic, but basically works. Wow, the production on this song is terrible. The "oh-ohs" in the "twist your fate" tradeoff section are a lot less successful. Nice abrupt ending. I think this is successful enough to round up to a 6/10.
  • One More Step - Solo piano -- this is different. Blaze is trying to sing like some coffee house waif, and he sounds pretty bad. Overly theatrical, uncontrolled, missing notes. Jesus, this is embarrassing. 2/10.
  • Fighter - A decent harmonized lead over marching drums kicks things off. I like the shift in key and drum feel. Hmm, this neoclassical thing going on under the verse is cool, and Blaze sounds pretty good here. The chorus is OK, though Blaze is a bit over the top. A nice riff break leads back into the verse and chorus. Another riff break leads into a so-so repetitive harmonized interlude. Full stop, and then we get a slow buildup into an aggressive break before returning to the chorus. Hmm, this spoken bit is different, but not bad. Well, there's certainly some good stuff here. Let's say a robust 6/10.
  • Judge Me - A simple riff leads into an atmospheric verse where Blaze oversings it with poor control and missed notes left and right. It feels like he's trying to channel Geoff Tate and failing. This cuts awkwardly into an overly busy, heavy pre-chorus before returning to the softer bit for the sparse chorus. The fretless bass bit is interesting. A pretty good pair of solos breaks into a decent, mostly a capella bridge punctuated by guitar and drums. Back through the crummy pre-chorus a couple of times and we get a sucky heavier version of the chorus before closing on the softer version again. This probably gets enough done to salvage a 4/10.
  • Difficult - A cool thrashy riff leads into decent verse. Blaze is predictably all over the place tonally, and missing notes. He gets a little hammy with the delivery on the pre-chorus. An OK off-kilter interlude leads into a nice soft section. Blaze actually sounds good here, aside from the terrible phrasing. This doesn't work as well when it gets heavier and Blaze starts missing notes again. A strong solo leads into an interesting melodic lead that gets nice rhythm guitar backup. I like the renaissance vibe running through this song. OK, Blaze, I get it -- you're gonna live your life your own way. Nice soft outro, though Blaze is still uncontrolled there. This one is interesting, but really uneven. Let's say 5/10.
  • Beginning - A nice acoustic opening supports Blaze singing decently, if a bit over the top. The phrasing still sucks. When he tries to sound snarlier it doesn't work. He also sounds silly on the low notes. Let's be nice and say 4/10.
Well, that was a disaster. It's as if Blaze joined some high school student's garage band and recorded the whole album in their mom's basement. This pathetic effort averages an astonishing 3.9/10, making Virtual XI look pretty appealing by comparison.

"Fate" and "Fighter" are the only tracks worth remembering, and they're just OK. "The King Of Metal" and "One More Step" are so bad that I'm shocked Blaze was willing to show his face in public after publishing them.

I mean, really, who could sit back and listen to this album and think it was actually worth releasing? Who could feel proud to put their name on this? The production is horrifying, and the majority of the songs are flat-out bad. Given the album cover, maybe Blaze literally has a tin ear...?

Anyway, moving on...

Bonus tracks:
  • Russian Holiday - Nice acoustic intro. Blaze sounds pretty good on the verse. The lyrics are pretty on the nose, which isn't great. More bad phrasing. I like the rhythmic change-up in the clapping section. The trade-off section isn't as successful. Blaze whiffs a couple of major notes toward the end. Nice, but flawed. 5/10.
  • Hatred - Crushing riff. Bad phrasing, but Blaze sounds pretty good otherwise. Interesting background synths. The queasy pre-chorus is pretty good. The chorus is less successful. Decent interlude. OK, Blaze, I'll leave you alone. You did tell me, after all. Many times. 5/10.
  • Eating Children - A very sparse riff breaks into something more Metallica "Load"-esque. The verse is pretty good. The pre-chorus isn't quite there. Chorus 1 ("they are chosen") has some icky vocal harmonies, but chorus 2 ("eating children") is passable. An OK solo followed by a better one. Blaze is missing notes on the chorus 1 reprise. More chorus 2 and we put this one out of its misery. 4/10.
Nothing special among these bonus tracks, though "Russian Holiday" and "Hatred" are better than most of the songs on The King Of Metal.

It must get better from here... :huh:
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...


Background Info:
Released:
March 3, 2017
Label: Blaze Bayley Recordings
Producer: Chris Appleton

Personnel:
Blaze Bayley
(vocals)
Chris Appleton (guitars)
Martin McNee (drums)
Karl Schramm (bass)

Critical Reviews:
"Less than one year after the release of the gripping Infinite Entanglement, the indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the also astounding Endure And Survive, the second part of his most ambitious project, a Sci-Fi trilogy about Mr. William Christopher Black, a man who doesn’t know if he’s a man or a machine on a futuristic mission to discover one of the new Kepler planets. After the dark and climatic ending of the first part, I’m sure all fans of the Heavy Metal crafted by Blaze (including myself, of course) have been waiting anxiously for the next chapter in the eccentric journey of our mysterious main character, and Endure And Survive offer us all that and more in a brilliant way." ~The Headbanging Moose

""Endure And Survive" does not match the quality of its predecessor, but it does serve its purpose, continuing the story to its second peak, before a grand finale that will probably be released in 2018. While this record has its weak moments, it still has some nice work in it that should not be missed, holding it just above the line of mediocrity." ~Forsaken At The Gates

"Improves on the first album in this trilogy in every possible way, but most notably production. Recalls the best moments on Blaze's first two sci-fi themed offerings, both musically and lyrically." ~Maturin (MaidenFans)

~~~ Diesel's Opinions ~~~

Tracks:
  1. "Endure and Survive" - The album opens with the great title track, which is basically Blaze's "get up, you're not dead yet" songs repackaged into a piece of the William Black story. And he does a good job of it. "By sheer force of will!" is a great line and Blaze and the boys make a fine song out of it. It doesn't quite hit it out of the park enough to get top ratings, but it's good enough to receive a 9/10 score.
  2. "Escape Velocity" - Another good song follows the title track in the form of "Escape Velocity". A very energetic, happy-feely-kinda song that fits in well with a nice enthusiastic chorus. It's also cool watching the music video, which was filmed at Bruce Dickinson's flight simulator at Cardiff Aviation. It's always nice to know that there's no bad blood between the two. Anyway, a second 9/10 is achieved by this song.
  3. "Blood" - A more sinister song, is Track 3. Here we hear of William Black's murderous soul and learn that not everything is as it seems in this world. The guitarwork is pretty nice too. 8/10
  4. "Eating Lies" - Starting out quietly but building as it goes on, this is a massive piece of the album and a very good one as well. Blaze sounds great, as does the music, as they narrate together how all the lies William Black has been told will soon be shoved in the faces of those who lied to him. A good 9/10.
  5. "Destroyer" - A good song in which forces are at work against William Black, attempting his demise (I think). Good riffage. Not the most outstanding song in the discography, let alone this album, but it's good enough for an 8/10.
  6. "Dawn of the Dead Son" - There we go. This song knocks it out of the park with an excellent performance from Blaze and all involved, featuring a great chorus and lyricism to boot. Can't give it less than a 10/10.
  7. "Remember" - The previous song seems to have set a standard carried on by the next song. "Remember" is a great acoustic + accordion piece in which Blaze and (who I assume to be) Anne Bakker share the spotlight - and their voices complement each other so, so well. Truly excellent. 10/10
  8. "Fight Back" - A strong song but not the most outstanding. Good chorus, even if it's a little cheesy. 8/10
  9. "The World Is Turning The Wrong Way" - Another strong song, almost a 9 in fact, but again, not quite as outstanding as some other. A good plodding banger, though. 8/10
  10. "Together We Can Move The Sun" - This song. This. Fucking. Song. Is perfect. Perfect. How perfect? This is easily the best song Blaze has ever released. That's right, the best song he's ever released. Better than "Stare At The Sun", "Meant To Be" - better than all of them. Just a phenomenal track, his second longest. It opens up quietly with some of Blaze best singing, before he's joined the chorus by (again, I assume it to be) Anne Bakker, who complements his singing perfectly. After the second verse it gets heavier and the chorus is again phenomenal. And the the fucking solo! Best one in his entire discography. The chorus returns for a last time and draws to a close stupendously fantastically. The next two minutes are spent with Blaze bringing this part of the story to a great close, and then the last fifty seconds perfectly set up the third and final album sinisterly enough to keep you hooked on for Part III. Just a beautiful, an excellent, a SUPERB song. 10/10. I would give it an 11 if I could. Just fantastic. I can't sing its praises high enough. Probably a contender for my Top 10 favorite songs overall. Just... beautiful.
Overall: Part II isn't quite as good as Part I, but it's still a strong album that helps sell the Infinite Entanglement theme quite well. Despite the rather high ratings here, I think it's about tied with Tenth Dimension in my rankings, maybe a little higher. Still, no bad songs, and the album ends on a fucking high note with "Together We Can Move The Sun". A worthy sequel.
Rating: 90%
Best Songs: "Dawn of the Dead Son", "Remember", "Together We Can Move The Sun"
 

Number 6

Ancient Mariner
BLAZE - Silicon Messiah
  1. "Ghost In the Machine" => First Blaze solo song I've ever heard. It actually played an enormous part in my early Maiden childhood years, I used to listen to this song (actually, this album, though I listened to this song more than the others) all the time. However, as the years went by, I got as close as to forget it even existed. I just erased it from my mind, for some reason. It wasn't until recently (last year, I think) that I rediscovered it, and boy, has it aged well! It sounds even better now than it did back when I was little. Gorgeous performances, fantastic solos, ominous melodies to fit the haunting lyrics, and a subject matter that remains relevant nearly 20 years after. 10/10, amazing song!
  2. "Evolution" => It's a seamless transition between the previous track and this one. It actually took me about 3 and a half minutes (I know, almost the entire song) to realize that I wasn't listening to "Ghost In the Machine" anymore. Anyway, one of the best opening duos I've ever heard on an album; "Evolution" manages to match the quality of its predecessor (if not exceed it) with strong, heavy riffs, a catchy chorus and great lyrics. Another 10/10.
  3. "Silicon Messiah" => When this track first started, I thought I was in for a ballad-y type of song. How foolish of me! It's a fantastic song nevertheless, though not quite as good as the previous 2. I love the lyrics, but the music feels a little tired and repetitive after a while. Not one of my favs so far as it's not all good, but for all that's there that's actually good, I can't justify giving this anything less than a 9/10.
  4. "Born As a Stranger" => ... WTF is this? I feel like this might be an unpopular opinion among Blaze fans, but this song is not good. Generic at best, it actually feels like a B-grade "Man On the Edge" rehash, with a chorus that manages to be worse than the song itself. Not to mention I've just listened to it, like 10 minutes ago, and can't remember how most of it went (and, mind you, it wasn't even my first time listening to it). Conversely, the solo section is great, and saves it from going straight down to a 1/10, keeping it around the 3/10 mark.
  5. "The Hunger" => Not among the best works I've heard from him. This song had a lot of potential, but the execution was really just... meh. I'm not quite sure what's actually wrong with it; maybe it's the lyrics, as they aren't as deep as Blaze tried to make them. I don't know, for me, it's a song that's just... there, y'know? I don't love it, I don't hate it... but I don't dislike it either, so a 6/10 feels right.
  6. "The Brave" => ... Now we're back. And in full force, dare I say! This song to me sounds like "Born As a Stranger" done right. Tasty intro riff and solo, another good performance from Blaze, and the sudden stop before the chorus is an interesting surprise on first listen. Overall, I think it deserves a 9/10. Better than the title track, but not as good as the opening duo.
  7. "Identity" => a small step down from "The Brave", but still very good. The chorus is catchy, and the music is spectacular, but the lyrics are very cliché and, honestly, kinda cheesy, which helps bumping the song down a point or 2. 8/10 feels right for it.
  8. "Reach for the Horizon" => I love the opening lyric! It's simple, but powerful in the context of the song. The chorus is interesting and very fun to sing, but the rest of the song doesn't do much for me. It's not bad, but not outstanding either, and the lyrics overall are nowhere near the best ones in this album. I give it a 7/10.
  9. "The Launch" => ... and here I thought "Born As a Stranger" sounded like "Man On the Edge"... The verses here are a complete rehash of the (far superior) Maiden song, the chorus is underwhelming (to say the least), and the lyrics are just awkward. 2/10, nope.
  10. "Stare At the Sun" => I don't have much to say about this song. I love it, and it's a perfect way to end the album. It's long, but doesn't feel like it, the music is amazing, and the lyrics are thoughtful. There's really nothing here (or missing) to justify me giving it any less than a 10/10.
Bonus Tracks:
  • "The Day I Fell to Earth" => I really love this! Wish it had been part of the album. I think lyrically, this might be my favorite song so far. The lyrics are just perfect and suitable for the music, which is also flawless IMO. Only behind "Ghost In the Machine" and "Evolution" for me. 10/10.
  • "Motherfuckers R Us" => Firstly, I love the title! Secondly... Eh... This song is not bad, but it's not good either. It's very generic, both lyric and musically, and it's not very interesting whatsoever. A 5/10 suits it just fine.
And there goes my first review. Overall, the album is very strong, and despite some weaker spots, the full listening experience manages to overshadow those weaknesses and make it a very interesting and enjoyable project to hear. Will be checking out the other albums later.
 
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Jer

My sins are many
"Evolution" manages to match the quality of its predecessor (if not exceed it) with strong, heavy riffs, a catchy chorus and great lyrics.
What do you consider to be the chorus of the song? Near as I could tell it was the "the evolu-u-tion" part, which is pretty much the opposite of catchy...
"Born As a Stranger" [...] Generic at best, it actually feels like a B-grade "Man On the Edge" rehash

[...]

"The Launch" => ... and here I thought "Born As a Stranger" sounded like "Man On the Edge"... The verses here are a complete rehash of the (far superior) Maiden song
Thank you.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...


Background Info:
Released:
March 2, 2018
Label: Blaze Bayley Recordings
Producer: Blaze Bayley / Chris Appleton

Personnel:
Blaze Bayley
(vocals)
Chris Appleton (guitar)
Martin McNee (drums)
Karl Schramm (bass)

Critical Reviews:
"The Redemption of William Black therefore turns out to be half-filled with forgettable tunes and evidence that Bayley is losing his touch, the other half seeming inspired and proving that his solo career is still fully intact." ~Robert Davis (SputnickMusic)

"Blaze never needed redemption in my eyes, he's been putting out quality music since before I was born. With this third album in the Infinite Entanglement trilogy, he succeeds once again." ~Mike S. (Amazon.com)

"Infinite Entanglement trilogy is a very solid piece of work. After the inconsistent The King of Metal and two... um, above-average new songs on his collection (Hatred and Eating Children) I had some serious doubts about this project. Ambitious sci-fi concept album sounded like a another almost embarrassing output. But damn, it was great. The production was pretty poor and stripped down, but songwriting and performances were top notch! And the same goes for two successors. Chris Appleton really brought a lot of great things to Blaze's songwriting and the results are pretty outstanding. Blaze operates - for most of the time - in a rather limited musical playground but he really does pretty much everything right there.

Excellent heavy metal, that's what it's all about and that's what Blaze does so fucking right. Seriously, there isn't too many different tricks (then again, some of the recent stuff is actually pretty adventurous!) but you can't really find that much repetition or anything like that. The way Blaze makes this pretty basic recipe bend and form all these fantastic tracks is pretty brilliant.

Yup, there are a couple of weaker tracks and production issues. But the way Blaze came up with three great records with some outstanding compositions really deserves a lot of praise. He has always been a great songwriter and this collaboration with Appleton works very well. Blaze can come up with very decent stuff on is too, but the results have always been better when paired with another good songwriter. To complete each other's ideas, so to speak. There was Blaze with Maiden guys, then with Slater and the rest of the Blaze band guys, then there were Bermudez and now we have Blaze+Appleton. Good stuff." ~Randalf (MaidenFans)

~~~ Diesel's Opinions ~~~

Tracks:
  1. "Redeemer" - An excellent way to begin the final album in Blaze's Trilogy. As it narrates the part of the story where someone steps in to take control of the world, Blaze and the band do an excellent job setting up the rest of the album. All in all it's got enough for a 9/10 rating.
  2. "Are You Here" - A good second song, but the chorus does seem to repeat "A Thousand Years" from Part I. On that note, I'll give it a 7/10.
  3. "Immortal One" - The Redeemer begins his reign, and Blaze and the gang make a damn fine metal tune out of it. Great stuff. 9/10
  4. "The First True Sign" - Things are really starting to heat up in the plot. "The First True Sign" isn't quite outstanding enough to warrant a higher rating than 8/10, but it's a pretty strong song overall and well deserving of such a rating.
  5. "Human Eyes" - An emotional and building song, this is exactly the kind thing I'd normally love, but here it feels a little less inspiring. I think Blaze repeats the same singing technique too often and the chorus is overlong. It's still good, but the negatives overpower it enough to bring it down to a 6/10. Still, it's a near 7.
  6. "Prayers of Light" - Chris Jericho of all people guests on this track, but I'm not a Fozzy fan so it means little to me. Good song, a heavier follow-on from the previous song and it bests it in every way. It's an 8/10 that's nearly a 9.
  7. "18 Days" - Apparently the backing vocals in this song were done by a Liz Owens, and since they sound a lot like the ones in Part II, I may have been off in my assumptions. Still, they work very well and back Blaze quite nicely. Good song. 8/10
  8. "Already Won" - A short but great song, Blaze does an excellent job and the chorus is awesome. It's enough to round up to a 9/10.
  9. "Life Goes On" - Another good song, the kind of thing which Blaze has done better before but still is a good listen. 8/10
  10. "The Dark Side of Black" - A good song but it feels like a bit of a rehash of previous stuff. Still good enough for a 7/10, that being said.
  11. "Eagle Spirit" - Blaze's longest and most epic song, "Eagle Spirit" is easily the album's crowning jewel. Bringing The Trilogy to a conclusion, we see the full extent of the Redeemer's plans, and as the spirit of William Black passes on, the people who survive will retain their "eagle spirit" and survive on, to fight the Immortal One even if they are slaughtered. The song is great, a worthy finish for Blaze's finest creation - the Infinite Entanglement Trilogy. Easily, 10/10.
Overall: While the weakest of The Trilogy, that's not to say that this album isn't great. Because it is. It just doesn't consistently knock it out of the park as much as its predecessors do. Still, a worthy conclusion and in the upper rankings of Blaze's album. The Trilogy as a whole, by the way, is the best thing Blaze has ever done, with the exception perhaps of The X Factor. An excellent idea with mostly excellent execution. Fantastic stuff.
Rating: 87%
Best Songs: "Eagle Spirit", "Redeemer", "Immortal One", "Already Won"
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
  • "Born As a Stranger" => ... WTF is this? I feel like this might be an unpopular opinion among Blaze fans, but this song is not good. Generic at best, it actually feels like a B-grade "Man On the Edge" rehash, with a chorus that manages to be worse than the song itself.
  • "The Launch" => ... and here I thought "Born As a Stranger" sounded like "Man On the Edge"... The verses here are a complete rehash of the (far superior) Maiden song, the chorus is underwhelming (to say the least), and the lyrics are just awkward.
Thank you.
It's funny, the three of us recognize the "Man on the Edge" formula used in the two songs but while you two dislike them for that reason, I love them. I think they took it but actually made it better than Maiden did. They have more power, more drive, and better vocals.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
So, having gone through that immersive journey that was Blaze's discography, I've got a few lists of my own to drop off.

1. Infinite Entanglement - 97%
2. Silicon Messiah - 95%
3. Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) - 90%
4. Tenth Dimension - 90%
5. The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III) - 87%
6. Promise and Terror - 80%
7. Blood and Belief - 75%
8. The King of Metal - 75%
9. The Man Who Would Not Die - 60%

1. Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) - 89%
2. Promise and Terror - 88%
3. Silicon Messiah - 86%
4. Infinite Entanglement - 83%
5. The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III) - 81%
6. Tenth Dimension - 76%
7. The King of Metal - 75%
8. Blood and Belief - 71%
9. The Man Who Would Not Die - 63%

-----10-----
1. Together We Can Move The Sun
2. Stare at the Sun
3. Meant To Be
4. Calling You Home
5. Born as a Stranger
6. Infinite Entanglement
7. Silicon Messiah
8. Watching The Night Sky
9. What Will Come
10. A Thousand Years
11. Remember
12. Surrounded By Sadness
13. The Launch
14. Eagle Spirit
15. Dawn of the Dead Son
16. Leap of Faith
17. Tenth Dimension
18. One More Step
19. Soundtrack of My Life
20. Comfortable In Darkness
-----9-----
21. Ghost In The Machine
22. Voices From The Past
23. Kill and Destroy
24. Dark Energy 256
25. At the End of the Day
26. A Work of Anger
27. Stars Are Burning
28. End Dream
29. Endure and Survive
30. Ten Seconds
31. Independence
32. Eating Lies
33. Redeemer
34. Escape Velocity
35. The Trace of Things That Have No Words
36. Immortal One
37. Waiting For My Life To Begin
38. Samurai
39. Already Won
40. Dimebag
41. Will To Win
42. Beginning
43. Letting Go of the World
44. Time to Dare
-----8-----
45. Evolution
46. Living Someone Else's Life
47. Stealing Time
48. Alive
49. Reach for the Horizon
50. Identity
51. God of Speed
52. Serpent Hearted Man
53. The World Is Turning The Wrong Way
54. Solar Wind
55. Madness and Sorrow
56. The First True Sign
57. Blood and Belief
58. 18 Days
59. Fighter
60. Stranger to the Light
61. Prayers of Light
62. Life Goes On
63. Destroyer
64. Difficult
65. Fight Back
66. Blood
67. 1633
68. Hatred
69. City of Bones
70. Russian Holiday
71. Faceless
72. Regret
73. Motherfuckers R Us
-----7-----
74. While You Were Gone
75. Land of the Blind
76. The Dark Side of Black
77. The Truth Revealed
78. Robot
79. Human
80. Fate
81. Are You Here
82. The Rainbow Fades To Black
83. Tearing Yourself To Pieces
84. The Man Who Would Not Die
85. The Day I Fell To Earth
86. The Hunger
87. Judge Me
-----6-----
88. Human Eyes
89. The Brave
90. The Black Country
91. Hollow Head
92. Eating Children
-----5-----
93. The Dreams of William Black
94. Speed of Light
95. Nothing Will Stop Me
96. Life and Death
-----4-----
97. The King of Metal
98. Smile Back At Death
-----3-----
99. Shall We Begin
100. Forgotten Future
101. Blackmailer
102. The Truth Is One
-----2-----
-----1-----

103. Crack In The System
104. The Path & The Way

The song rankings are to be taken with a pinch of salt, because I'm really not sure if they're completely accurate. I am rather satisfied with the Top 10, though.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
I'm glad you're liking the Infinite-trilogy, @Diesel 11 :) The albums are very different from both the BLAZE- and Bermudez Brothers-eras of his career, more classic rock/metal-sounding, but I think the Blaze/Appleton songwriting team is deadly. There's some killer stuff on those three albums, and I hope they get to make more. Will be posting my own reviews/votes this week (if work permits it).
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
  1. "Born As a Stranger" => ... WTF is this?
One of the most popular Blaze songs of all time (in general, not necessarily (only) on Maidenfans). And one of the two most popular Blaze songs in both the BLAZE and the Bermuda Brothers era's. This means Hallowed Be Thy Name / Rime status. Always the best response. Always in the setlist.
 
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Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I'm glad you're liking the Infinite-trilogy, @Diesel 11 :) The albums are very different from both the BLAZE- and Bermudez Brothers-eras of his career, more classic rock/metal-sounding, but I think the Blaze/Appleton songwriting team is deadly. There's some killer stuff on those three albums, and I hope they get to make more.
Yeah... honestly I may even go so far as to say that it’s the best line-up for him yet. They seem to jive together very well.

Looking forward to your reviews!
 

Jer

My sins are many
Well, you've only got The Trilogy left now. You may find something in there which will blow you away, but knowing you I really can't promise anything. :p
I'm a sucker for concept albums, so you never know. I actually liked Geoff Tate's Operation: Mindcrime The Key trilogy, which was almost certainly the motivation for Blaze to do his own concept trilogy, since Blaze performed on a song on one of those albums back in 2015 (the album he performed on, Resurrection, wasn't actually released until 2016).
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Well, the best thing I can say is this: go into it with an open mind. :ok:

I think the concept Blaze made, while certainly reminiscent of other sci-fi works, is pretty strong, but expect something like Tenth Dimension concept only more fleshed out. While on that album it’s harder to make out a story, here you can definitely tell that a tale is being woven in front of you, but Blaze doesn’t quite nail the storytelling aspect, like Abigail or Operation: Mindcrime do. Still, I think he more or less succeeds with what he set out to do and they’re really fantastic albums in my opinion.
 
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