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

Advertisements

Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (Hard Rock Café, Toronto, ON, 10/17/2014)

The Messiah blessed his loyal fans with pure Heavy Metal at Indie Week Canada 2014 in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Laugh At The Fakes, The Blackcloud Syndicate, Spewgore and Phantom

blaze bayley torontoOn a very pleasant not-so-cold night in the heart of Toronto during Indie Week Canada, from October 15 to October 19, Hard Rock Café was invaded on October 17 by around 150 metalheads to support four amazing local bands, with the icing on the cake being an electrifying performance by the “Messiah” Blaze Bayley, as part of the festival’s Metal Showcase.

I can’t say I was expecting more or less people than that, probably a little more due to the presence of such a great musician as Blaze, but one thing that I loved about the festival was the sense of family among all bands and fans at the venue, including Blaze himself who spent a lot of time talking to fans, taking pictures and signing stuff, as well as being able to put some faces to names like Jon Asher, from Asher Media Relations. You will read more about this great guy from Montreal, his business and the bands he works with here at The Headbanging Moose for sure.

IMG_2993The first attraction to hit the stage was Rock/Metal band LAUGH AT THE FAKES, from Toronto, Ontario. Those guys play a nice mix of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, very old school but with a more polished sounding, and they surely entertained everyone already at Hard Rock Café before 9pm. Although it was impossible to get or memorize the setlists of any of the opening bands, I know Laugh At The Fakes played a pretty cool song called Killing Time, from their debut album Dethrone the Crown, which will  be released pretty soon and, of course, reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose.

Band members
Everett Mason – guitar, vocals
Kevin Daliri – guitar
Galen Weir – bass
Chris Avalos – drums

IMG_2997After some Rock N’ Roll and a short beer break, it was time for Thrash Metal/Hardcore band THE BLACKCLOUD SYNDICATE, also from Toronto, Ontario, to speed things up with their visceral music, with highlights to the wicked performance by lead singer Miko Zolefrapanidis. The guy was on fire, probably inspired by Blaze’s usual performance. In regards to the songs, I truly enjoyed a song named Protest the Riot and their cover version for Billy Idol’s classic Rebel Yell, both from their 2013 release called Rage in Common.

Band members
Miko Zolefrapanidis – vocals
Giuseppe D’Angelo – guitar
Graham Scott Anthony – guitar
Shawn Davidson – bass
Glenn Novak – drums

IMG_3003And there was more violence to come with the third indie band of the night, Thrash Metal/Hardcore veterans SPEWGORE, from Brampton, Ontario. Led by vocalist Bill Brown, the band took the proverbial phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” seriously, as they were able to deliver an almost full setlist in a very limited amount of time. If you enjoy fast, short and brutal hardcore songs, go after the music by this Canadian band. They truly delivered a nonstop energetic concert at the festival.

Band members
Bill Brown – vocals
Steve Macpherson – guitars
Ken Gibson – bass
Mark Macpherson – drums

IMG_3004The last attraction before the Messiah was Heavy Metal band PHANTOM, from Toronto, Ontario, and let me tell you those guys make the expression “New Wave Of Canadian Heavy Metal” more real than ever! What an amazing band, with powerful songs such as their new single Blood & Iron being the perfect warm-up for Blaze Bayley. Kudos to D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade for keeping the fire of Heavy Metal burning, and for reminding us why the 80’s were the best decade in the history of music by far.

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums and backing vocals

BLAZE BAYLEY

IMG_3015Coincidence or not, when the clock hit two minutes to midnight, BLAZE BAYLEY began his flaming performance at Hard Rock Café, accompanied by the extremely competent Iron Maiden tribute band MAIDEN QUÉBEC, from Montreal, Quebec, who were by the way supporting Blaze in all of his Canadian dates.

Celebrating 20 years of the controversial, obscure and awesome album The X Factor, Blaze and Maiden Québec presented a very interesting mix of his first solo albums (when his band was called only BLAZE) and Iron Maiden songs. And it wasn’t a perfect mix, just an interesting one, because unfortunately there were absolutely no songs from his best solo albums, the masterpieces The Man Who Would Not Die and Promise and Terror, which I can understand based on the fact Blaze is a 100% solo artist now, relying on local bands to build his setlist wherever he goes. I know it might be hard for any band to learn too many “new” songs in a short period of time, and so adding songs Maiden Québec are used to play like Running Free, Whathchild and Wasted Years was the most viable solution for all musicians involved.

IMG_3024Anyway, despite those minor limitations, it was indeed a great performance by “the man who will not die”, with highlights to songs such as The Brave, Silicon Messiah and Kill and Destroy, together with his Maiden-years songs When Two Words Collide (which I saw live only once, during the Virtual XI World Tour in 1998), Lord of the Flies, the all-time classics Futureal and Man on the Edge, and the more-than-perfect The Clansman. How can a normal person not get all fired up with this epic song, especially after Blaze’s inspiring words about living our lives, about feeling the sense of true freedom? This song always makes me want to be Scottish, I just love it!

IMG_2998

The Messiah is among us!

But the most important detail of the whole concert was, of course, Blaze Bayley himself. There’s an expression in Brazilian Portuguese that summarizes the state of a person when he is fearless, brave, lionhearted, and 100% ready for war: we say that person has “sangue nos olhos”, or blood in his eyes in English (not in a surgical way, of course), and that’s exactly how I see Blaze Bayley every single time he’s on stage. He gives it all, no matter if he’s playing for 50 or 50,000 people, and he literally demands each and every motherfucker from the crowd to join him in an incredible metal music havoc. You cannot hide from Blaze, he will see you standing still and kindly ask you “Hey, you, motherfucker! Come on!”, it doesn’t matter if you worked for over eight hours, if you’re fuckin’ exhausted nor if it’s already 1:30am. And that’s how true independent Heavy Metal is done.

Setlist
1. Lord of the Flies
2. When Two Worlds Collide
3. The Brave
4. Ghost in the Machine
5. Silicon Messiah
6. Ten Seconds
7. The Clansman
8. Futureal
9. The Launch
10. Soundtrack of My Life
11. Kill and Destroy
12. Man on the Edge
13. Running Free
14. Wrathchild
15. Iron Maiden
16. Wasted Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals

Maiden Québec (Canadian tour support band)
Pat Lalonde – vocals
Steven Bergeron – lead guitars
Leandro Alves – lead guitars
Math Gagnon – bass
Jef Rastoldo – drums

Album Review – Blaze Bayley / The Man Who Would Not Die (2008)

One of the best and at the same time most underrated Heavy Metal albums of the past 10 years.

Rating1

Blaze_Bayley_-_Man_Who_Would_Not_Die_coverI still cannot believe how many Metal fans know absolutely nothing about Blaze Bayley’s career before and after his years with Iron Maiden, and even worse than that, they don’t even know The Man Who Would Not Die exists! This is by far one of the most amazing albums of the past 10 or 15 years, with over 60 minutes of PURE FUCKIN’ METAL! There isn’t a single song of the album that is not meaningful or powerful, and Blaze is singing better than never here.

The first three tracks are so heavy and so intense that I can never decide which one is my favorite: the title track with its perfect lyrics “On and on, I’m cursed to live…”; the kick to the face of some people that messed with Blaze in Blackmailer; and the epic song Smile Back at Death, based on the movie Gladiator. It’s impossible not to get addicted to these songs, all full of great riffs and solos. I’m a true Maidenmaniac, but I dare to say these songs are much better than most of the material Maiden has produced in the past few years.

The rest of the album is a sequence of so many awesome songs that I could write about each one of them for hours: the ballad While You Were Gone is just beautiful and a great tribute to his deceased wife Debbie Hartland, Samurai has a very nice bass line, there’s a lot of melancholy in At the End of the Day, and every time I listen to Robot or Voices from the Past I instantly start banging my head. And what can I say about the dark and heavy Serpent Hearted Man? I wish I can see Blaze playing it live someday, as heavy and fast as possible.

blaze_bayley_picMoreover, what makes this album even better are Blaze’s band members, especially bass player David Bermudez and drummer Larry Paterson, who literally smashes his drums in almost every song. The same band also recorded another masterpiece, Promise and Terror (which I plan to write about one day), but unfortunately due to some internal issues they are not together with Blaze anymore.

And finally, I’m a big fan of everything Blaze has done so far: his Hard Rock-ish years with Wolsfbane, his controversial albums with Iron Maiden, and his brilliant solo career. This guy is a true metalhead that has never given up doing the music he loves even in the worst moments of his life. Very few artists can produce something as relevant as Silicon Messiah, Promise and Terror and especially The Man Who Would Not Die nowadays, so don’t waste your time with MTV and go listen carefully to this great masterpiece from Mr. Blaze Bayley now!

Best moments of the album: Everything, from the very first second of The Man Who Would Not Die until the end of Serpent Hearted Man, including its amazing front cover and all the deep and dark lyrics of each song. I guess I listen to this album almost every week since it was launched back in 2008.

Worst moments of the album: There’s absolutely nothing bad at all here, not even regular. It’s a perfect Heavy Metal album.

Released in 2008 Blaze Bayley Records

Track listing
1. The Man Who Would Not Die  4:35
2. Blackmailer  4:43
3. Smile Back at Death  7:38
4. While You Were Gone  5:27
5. Samurai  5:39
6. Crack in the System  5:53
7. Robot  3:10
8. At the End of the Day  3:39
9. Waiting for My Life to Begin  5:10
10. Voices from the Past  5:55
11. The Truth Is One  4:22
12. Serpent Hearted Man  6:15

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Nico Bermudez – lead guitar
Jay Walsh – rhythm guitar
David Bermudez – bass
Lawrence Paterson – drums