Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (The Rockpile, Toronto, ON, 08/19/2017)

A journey through the past, present and future in the career of the unstoppable Blaze Bayley in the form of first-class Heavy Metal for his diehard fans in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Cadillac Blood

I’ll never understand why people who call themselves diehard metalheads would miss a chance to attend a top-notch Heavy Metal concert like what we had this Saturday at the really nice venue The Rockpile, which despite being usually referred as located in Toronto, technically speaking it’s in Etobicoke, an administrative district and former city that makes up the western part of the city of Toronto, around 18km from downtown. The weather was perfect, the beer was nice and cold, the food was great and all prices were very, very reasonable (including the ticket price). And those so-called fans of heavy music keep complaining on Facebook, Twitter etc. that metal doesn’t have the proper support and all those shenanigans. How about instead of just typing, you get up from that couch, head to a place like The Rockpile and support underground metal?

If you do that, perhaps you’ll face an electrifying band like the young and restless thrashers from CADILLAC BLOOD, a completely independent act from Keswick, Ontario, located 70km north of Toronto. Blending elements from Thrash Metal, Punk Rock and Rock N’ Roll in their music, and being clearly inspired by bands such as Volbeat (by the way, the band’s name comes from Volbeat’s classic album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood if you haven’t noticed yet), Metallica, Motörhead and Anthrax, the quartet comprised of Luke Morrell on vocals, Tyler Morrell on guitar, Sean Murphy on bass and Dean Fraser on drums delivered an excellent warmup to the fans that were there for Blaze Bayley, being extremely professional and excited from start to finish, in special Luke who didn’t stop jumping and headbanging for a single second while singing at the same time. Unfortunately I don’t have their full setlist, but you can go to their BandCamp page and check out songs like Crow’s Nest and Devil’s Brew, both played by the band on Saturday.

Band members
Luke Morrell – vocals
Tyler Morrell – guitar
Sean Murphy – bass
Dean Fraser – drums

BLAZE BAYLEY

When it was time for the unstoppable BLAZE BAYLEY to hit the stage with his Endure and Survive World Tour 2017, at around 10:30pm, The Rockpile was not even half full, maybe due to lack of better promotion or because the pub was a bit far for fans who rely on public transportation to move around, but I think those are just excuses for our society’s growing laziness to do anything that’s not online. Blaze deserved a much bigger crowd (he even joked it was his fault, as he asked that only true metalheads attended his concert), as he’s been doing superior music being totally independent, with very little support from anyone but himself and his bandmates. His music is powerful and vibrant, his lyrics are poetic and meaningful, and his energy on stage is simply fantastic. What else do you need in a metal concert?

Anyway, the brave fans who were at The Rockpile had the absolute pleasure of witnessing an amazing performance by Blaze and his amazing band formed by the talented Chris Appleton on guitars and backing vocals, Karl Schramm on bass and backing vocals, and Martin McNee on drums, who are not only the guys who recorded the first two parts of the kick-ass Infinite Entanglement trilogy with Blaze, the 2016 album Infinite Entanglement and the 2017 follow-up Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II), but who are also three quarters of British Heavy Metal act Absolva, a great underground band highly recommended for lovers of old school metal music.

When Blaze was in Toronto for the last time, at the now defunct Hard Rock Café in 2014, he was supported by a Canadian Iron Maiden cover group named Maiden Quebec, and although they were a very good band, Blaze’s performance was somewhat hampered by their lack of chemistry. Fortunately for the fans at The Rockpile this Saturday, Blaze and the guys from Absolva were in perfect sync, a reflection of their years working together, delivering to the crowd a top-notch setlist encompassing the best of Blaze’s past, present, and even future (if you think of Infinite Entanglement as an evolving project), playing simply the best songs from Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden and his unparalleled solo career. From the very first notes of the inspiring Endure and Survive, to the speed and violence of Blood, Dark Energy 256 and Man on the Edge (see his intro video to this all-time classic HERE), and the epicness of The Clansman, their performance was flawless.

As I mentioned before, Blaze is a metal poet, and there was always a reason for a song to be inserted in his setlist, always bringing a powerful message to the fans who were singing along all lyrics with Blaze. For instance, his speech about how we all fail and how we all must stand up from our failures and fight our fears again and again in Fight Back, from his latest album, only shows how much he loves what he does and how much he’s passionate about Heavy Metal, as well as how he said us fans are his “home” in the emotional Calling You Home. Of course there was also room for lighter topics, like when he explained the origins of Wolfsbane and how we all would feel “sexier” after screaming the words “man hunt” during Wolfsbane’s biggest hit Man Hunt. By the way, the “duel” between Blaze and the rest of the band during this song was awesome, with Chris and Karl stealing the show with their refined techniques. Blaze made sure he acknowledged the undeniable talent of Chris not only as a guitarist, but also as a songwriter and producer, something we can easily see through his work with both Absolva and Blaze Bayley.

After the last song of the setlist, A Thousand Years (my favorite track from Infinite Entanglement), Blaze and the guys stayed at the venue for a free autograph and photo session with their fans, not charging a single penny as most band do nowadays with their “meet & greet experiences”, as a sign of his respect and admiration for us, supporters of independent music. All band members were very nice and courteous with everyone, talking about their tour across Canada and the US, their plans for the future and other topics. And all true metal fans who attended the concert on Saturday went back home with a huge smile on their faces, something that happens every single time you see a concert by the metal warrior Blaze Bayley. As simple as that.

Setlist
Endure and Survive
Escape Velocity
Futureal
Blood
Silicon Messiah
Fight Back
Virus
Calling You Home
Stare at the Sun
The Clansman
Man Hunt
Man on the Edge
Dark Energy 256
Lord of the Flies
A Thousand Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

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Album Review – Blaze Bayley / Infinite Entanglement (2016)

Enjoy the first part of this futuristic trilogy created by the iconic Blaze Bayley, a thrilling journey inspired by science fiction and artificial intelligence that transpires first-class Heavy Metal.

Rating3

blaze bayley_infinite entanglementSilicon Messiah, Tenth Dimension, The Man Who Would Not Die, Promise And Terror, and now Infinite Entanglement. If you consider yourself a true admirer and connoisseur of traditional Heavy Metal who’s at the same time always looking to the future with an open mind and a passionate heart, you must listen to these five amazing releases by the iconic British metaller Blaze Bayley. What this metal warrior from Birmingham, UK is capable of offering his fans with absolutely no support from any major record label is outstanding. In Infinite Entanglement, a concept album highly influenced by science fiction, artificial intelligence and quantum physics that follows on the ideas found in Silicon Messiah and Tenth Dimension (not to mention Blaze is writing a book on those themes), we’re treated to more of his first-rate metal music embellished by his flammable performance and a more-than-exciting storyline. In other words, it might not be the album of the year for many, but it’s indeed an amazing contribution from Blaze to the world of heavy music. And have I mentioned this is the first part of a trilogy?

When asked about the story told in this new trilogy, Blaze commented that “It’s about a man who does not know if he is human. It’s his personal journey, and he is on a mission to discover one of the new Kepler planets. You know, Kepler discovered all these new planets. It’s set a hundred years in the future, and he’s on a spaceship and it’s how he deals with the fact that he will be one of the first people ever to live for a thousand years because of advances in technology, and how he deals with that. And the question is: is he human or not? And that’s it in a nutshell. And the story expands from there.” The whole concept already becomes evident when you stare at the classic but modern artwork by Swedish artist Andreas Sandberg, which in my opinion seems inspired by most Sci-Fi movies from the 80’s, but it’s when you actually start listening to the album and absorbing its music that you’ll finally understand what Infinite Entanglement is all about.

Let the futuristic journey begin (or continue from where it stopped in Silicon Messiah and Tenth Dimension) with the track that carries the name of the album, Infinite Entanglement, a straightforward Heavy Metal tune with a strong epic vibe, following the musicality from his latest album King Of Metal but a thousand times more polished and vibrant. Before the song is over, a woman’s voice that seems to be from a scientist explains who our main character is and why he was chosen for this mission, introducing us to the high-speed anthem A Thousand Years, my favorite of all tracks. This is where Blaze always thrives, firing pure metallic music with thoughtful lyrics, and I dare you not to sing its catchy chorus along with him while guitarist Chris Appleton showcases a solid performance with his riffs and especially with his solos.

Does he know the truth? No one can cope with the truth, but everyone can bang their heads nonstop to Human, the first single of the album that keeps the electricity flowing (and the perfect soundtrack for the TV series Humans, by the way), with drummer drummer Martin McNee and bassist Karl Schramm providing exactly what the music demands with their respective instruments. In addition, the song’s chorus poses the main question of the entire album (“Human / Am I human? / I am man / I am machine / You just don’t know what it means / To be human”), inviting you to once again sing it together with Blaze. In the pleasant acoustic voyage What Will Come, Blaze’s vocals are perfectly complemented by the exceptional work done by his longtime partners, Belgian guitarist Thomas Zwijsen and Dutch violinist Anne Bakker, proving Heavy Metal doesn’t need to be electric all the time to be stunning; whereas Stars Are Burning, with its hints of modern and alternative music, is yet another contemplative song where it’s mandatory to follow the powerful lyrics declaimed by Blaze to better understand the whole concept. By the time you reach this part of the album, the whole storyline starts to make a lot more sense and you can actually feel the roller-coaster of emotions the main character has been going through.

blaze bayley 2016If you’re a fan of pure metal music with no shenanigans, Solar Wind is for you. However, despite being a good song (in special due to its chorus), it’s below the rest of the album in terms of quality and freshness. In the sinister bridge The Dreams of William Black, where the question “where are you?” is asked to our main character numerous times (and even in different languages), I believe what is actually in question is if William is just dreaming or if this is the new reality he must face. Even if you cannot find an answer to that, you’ll enjoy Calling You Home, yet another dense and exciting metal chant with a traditional “Oh! Oh-oh-oh-oh!” added to the chorus where its backing vocals have a strong impact on the final result; followed by the action-packed tune Dark Energy 256 (or maybe I should call it “Futureal 2.0”?). The unstoppable Blaze has an absolutely amazing performance in which is one of the best songs of the album in my opinion, allowing us all to feel the so-called “dark energy 256” penetrating our skin. Besides, Martin provides Blaze the necessary vibe for his potent voice through his precise drumming, with the last seconds of the song being a beautiful massacre.

In Independence, a smooth intro turns into an energetic chant about freedom and independence (and we know how good Blaze is at singing about those topics), with Chris and Martin once again offering Blaze an awesome support. One thing I love about Blaze is how he always puts his heart and soul into his singing, which is the case in A Work of Anger, a melancholic and meaningful composition full of effective narrations. And do you think the outro Shall We Begin is the end of the story, or is it just the beginning? Well, parts II and III will obviously answer that question, and according to Blaze himself he already has half of album two and some of the music and one of the songs for album three basically finished, which means we won’t have to wait for too long for the conclusion of this awesome saga.

While we wait for more of Blaze’s powerful music, you can also enjoy the making of Infinite Entanglement on YouTube, follow the “Messiah” on Facebook, and purchase your copy of the album at his official webshop, on iTunes, or on Amazon. Is Blaze man or is he machine? We’ll never know, and in fact it doesn’t really matter as long as he keeps feeding our metallic souls with his unique and extremely sharp Heavy Metal for many years to come. Who knows, maybe even for a thousand years.

Best moments of the album: A Thousand Years, What Will Come, Dark Energy 256 and Independence.

Worst moments of the album: Solar Wind.

Released in 2016 Blaze Bayley Recordings

Track listing
1. Infinite Entanglement 4:26
2. A Thousand Years 3:26
3. Human 3:31
4. What Will Come 4:48
5. Stars Are Burning 3:48
6. Solar Wind 4:01
7. The Dreams of William Black 2:20
8. Calling You Home 5:21
9. Dark Energy 256 4:01
10. Independence 5:11
11. A Work of Anger 5:33
12. Shall We Begin 0:56

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

Guest musicians
Thomas Zwijsen – acoustic guitars on “What Will Come”
Anne Bakker – violin on “What Will Come”
Michelle Sciarrotta – acoustic guitars, backing vocals, narration
Emily Pembridge – keyboards, piano
Liz Owen, Joanne Robinson & Mel Adams – backing vocals
Aine Brewer, Rob Toogood & James Dunn – narration