Blaze Bayley has been working away on his solo career since his departure from Iron Maiden in 1999, creating some great material and some not as memorable but just as high in quality.
In 2015 he announced a grand plan to release three albums across three years, each album a part of a grand tale of life, death and hope based in the sci-fi world of the antagonist and anti-hero William Black. This album is the culmination of his grand plan while also being his tenth solo album.
Starting with a slow build and choral vocals as a spoken word piece setting the scene for this final act ‘Redeemer’ is very rooted in the heavy metal Blaze has made himself known for; his backing band made up of British group Absolva immediately show why Blaze has had them along for the ride with the guitar solo from Chris Appleton an early highlight.
‘Are You Here’ follows up quickly with a sense of urgency and this flows into the stomping ‘Immortal One’ in which more of the story is told in spoken word from the character actors that have been employed throughout the trilogy project.
On ‘Human Eyes’ Blaze’s more theatrical vocal reach that drips with passion with acoustic guitar being the only other focal point for the opening few minutes before the rest of the band join in, with another great solo from Chris Appleton that really adds some flavour to a great track. ‘Prayers Of Light’ opens with voice acting by none other than Chris Jericho, who also adds some vocal weight during the song. The song feels as much a part of Blaze’s storied career as the Infinite Entanglement story arc with its refrain of ‘Now We Stand and Fight’, something he has been doing with his music since his first solo album.
The ethereal vocal addition of Liz Owen on ’18 Days’ shows that, as always, Blaze’s passion for great metal and solid story telling comes before anything else with the combination coming off as a highlight not just of this album, but of the entire trilogy, with a performance only matched in its purity and passion by ‘Life Goes On’ that finds Blaze turning in the passionate vocal I think I have ever heard from him.
Across the trilogy, the best album has been left until the very end. As the final song ‘Eagle Spirit’ feels like the culmination of all the work from Blaze and the Absolva, coming together as it twists and turns through its nearly nine minute running time without ever feeling like it drags on your ears.
Blaze’s career is one that I have followed closely since his time in Iron Maiden as a fan of his vocals and writing style, and would like to think that this doesn’t affect my high praise of this album and the trilogy it is a part of. In his current backing band he has found some very capable writing partners and I hope that they continue writing and recording together because this has truly been his best output since his Tenth Dimension album in 2002. If you have ever been a fan of his musical output but have long since left for whatever reason, now is a golden time to get back amongst it, and if you have never checked it out for whatever reason, what are you doing?
- Are You Here
- Immortal One
- The First True Sign
- Human Eyes
- Prayers of Light
- 18 Days
- Already Won
- Life Goes On
- The Dark Side of Black
- Eagle Spirit