Album Review – Blaze Bayley / Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) (2017)

The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date, this time offering an action-packed album bursting with anger, passion and mystery.

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.

Once again accompanied by the talented Chris Appleton (guitar), Karl Schramm (bass) and Martin McNee (drums), all from British Heavy Metal band Absolva, plus many other very special guests such as Anne Bakker (violin) and Thomas Zwijsen (acoustic guitars), Blaze continues to tell the story of William Black magnificently, with a lot of poetry in his lyrics and, as usual, endless passion and energy in his vocals. The album’s futuristic artwork, designed once again by Andreas Sandberg with additional images from Christopher Steenstrup (who is also working on a Blaze Bayley video game), builds an instant connection with part one, showing how focused Blaze was on providing his loyal fans the most cohesive and exciting story possible.

Shall we begin? That’s precisely how the powerful title-track Endure and Survive starts, exactly where the first part ended, with the music itself continuing to be heavy, melodic and thrilling. In my humble opinion, Blaze found in Chris the perfect guitarist for his vocals as we can see in this epic tune, not to mention the song’s inspiring chorus and the amazing narrations, effectively taking us to the Sci-Fi world created by Blaze. In Escape Velocity, the story goes on at the speed of light, with Chris, Karl and Martin crafting electrifying music full of exciting solos and fast beats, while Blaze canalizes all his passion for metal and science fiction into his potent vocals, resulting in another classic song that I can’t wait to see him performing live. And after a dark intro we’re treated to the best musicality Blaze and his bandmates can offer, titled Blood, a high-speed furious Heavy Metal hymn absolutely perfect for the song’s aggressive lyrics, with Chris being simply insane with his riffs. Furthermore, a man and a woman explain who William Black really is, a murderer with blood on his hands according to them. Is that really the truth? Well, I don’t know the answer, at least not yet, but I know this song kicks some serious ass.

A pensive and anguished William is the centerpiece of the dark composition Eating Lies, showcasing all the talent of Blaze as a storyteller, as you can feel all the inner suffering from the story’s main character due to the lies being told about him through his vocals; followed by Destroyer, presenting that traditional sonority by Blaze seen in pretty much all his albums. In other words, it’s a very cohesive and rhythmic song about the “destroyer of worlds”, with the classic beats by Martin and the soulful riffs and solos by Chris supporting another excellent performance by Blaze. Then we have the epic Dawn of the Dead Son, where a woman with a suave voice seems to be talking inside William’s mind, with the music being a mix of his years with Iron Maiden with his contemporary material, displaying a galloping rhythm and blazing guitars. Each and every song has a reason to exist and this one is no exception to that, taking the listener once again on a dangerous but exciting journey before a serene ambience takes place in the stunning acoustic chant Remember. This troubadour-inspired folk version of Blaze is simply superb, being more melodic and romantic than “What Will Come” from part one, with Blaze flawlessly declaiming the song’s lyrics. Needless to say, his partnership with Thomas and Anne couldn’t sound more in sync, with the song’s female backing vocals also being a thing of beauty.

Returning to a more classic musicality, Fight Back is a song that would have already been amazing on its own in any of Blaze’s old albums, but that in Endure And Survive also plays an important part in the storyline, with Karl and Martin adding tons of heaviness to the music, therefore making it easier for Blaze to effectively deliver his potent vocals. Exhibiting hints of the classic Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath and some songs by Dio in his solo career, in special his biggest hit Holy Diver, the stunning The World Is Turning the Wrong Way brings forward a sensational aura and a profound, catchy chorus, with Chris’ guitar sounding heavier than hell, absolutely in line with all the darkness and agony found in the song’s lyrics. And finally, we have Together We Can Move the Sun, the most introspective and passionate of all songs, with Blaze’s strong voice being flawlessly complemented by the female vocal parts. Blaze and his crew offer us all eight minutes of a touching ballad, showcasing classy guitar lines, inspiring lyrics and an enigmatic (and extremely climatic) conclusion, building a sensational expectation for the third and final installment of the story of William Black, and in the end we all understand what has to happen in part three. William Black must… DIE!

Despite being avid for the conclusion of Blaze’s futuristic adventure, I’m more than happy to wait for it listening to both Infinite Entanglement and Endure And Survive in a row, savoring each and every line declaimed by the Messiah in those two albums. His official Facebook page is probably the best place to keep updated with all advancements in the recording of the next album and to know when he’ll be crushing your city with his amazing metal, and in order to put your hands on the second part of this kick-ass trilogy simply visit his official webstore, iTunes, Amazon or Discogs. Only Blaze knows the destiny of the dauntless voyager William Christopher Black, if he will live or die, or even if his entire life was real, and that marvelous uncertainty created by Blaze is the main ingredient that makes Endure And Survive (as well as Infinite Entanglement) stand out beautifully in contemporary heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Endure and Survive, Blood, Remember, The World Is Turning the Wrong Way and Together We Can Move the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: None. The whole album is awesome.

Released in 2017 Blaze Bayley Recordings

Track listing
1. Endure and Survive 4:27
2. Escape Velocity 3:27
3. Blood 4:41
4. Eating Lies 4:48
5. Destroyer 4:30
6. Dawn of the Dead Son 5:19
7. Remember 3:58
8. Fight Back 3:25
9. The World Is Turning the Wrong Way 4:35
10. Together We Can Move the Sun 8:14

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

Guest musicians
Corvin Bahn – accordion
Anne Bakker – violin, backing vocals
Thomas Zwijsen – acoustic guitars
Liz Owen, Melissa Adams, Joanne Kay Robinson & Luke Appleton – backing vocals
Michelle Sciarrotta – backing vocals, acoustic guitars, narration
Rob Toogood – backing vocals, narration
Aine Brewer – narration

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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.

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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

Interview – Blaze Bayley

The Headbanging Moose celebrates Halloween with an exclusive interview with the one and only Blaze Bayley (Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden, Blaze Bayley) prior to his acoustic concert in Montreal this November.

BlazeBayleyThe Headbanging Moose: From your first solo album until today, you have produced some very high quality Heavy Metal such as the masterpieces The Man Who Would Not Die and Promise and Terror. What in your opinion has changed and what has remained the same in your music since your solo debut with Silicon Messiah?

Blaze Bayley: The main thing that has changed is the way we record. With Silicon Messiah, I had to hire a studio with lots of equipment in, whilst now, with the new Soundtracks of My Life album, we could just record in Rick Plester‘s front room. It has become a lot easier and affordable in that way. I always write what interests me at the time or what goes on in my life, so that has stayed the same.

THM: You’ve just released a brand new song called Hatred, which is included in your new best of Soundtracks of My Life. What was your inspiration for that song and how was the recording process for it? Is it a “sample” of what people should expect from Blaze Bayley in the future?

BB: I had the idea for this song after having problems with a support band. I told Rick Plester about the idea and we came up with the music. I feel that I will record more songs like Hatred and especially Eating Children.

BB2010 027THM: I have seen you a couple of times in Brazil playing your regular Blaze Bayley concerts, with heavy guitars and drums, fast solos, and all your amazing energy on stage driving the fans crazy. However, you have been doing a lot of acoustic performances lately around the world. What’s the main difference for you when playing acoustic and why have you decided to start doing this kind of concert? Does it have anything to do with the fact that you’re now a father, as people usually “slow down” when they have kids?

BB: I have always wanted to a big acoustic tour but never found the right guitarist or time. It is a lot simpler because I can tour in Europe in my own car, so also a lot cheaper. It has worked out really well, although I notice that the fans are looking forward to my full metal shows again so the December dates in Brazil will be the last ones of the Russian Holiday tour. For me, the performance is exactly the same as full metal show, maybe even harder because there is no place to hide from me. The vocals have to be 100% to make that show work. Becoming a father, a parent, has made me want to work even harder. There is an undeniable reason to give my absolute best, to make sure my daughter has everything I want her to have. I want her to see that you have to work hard to make sure you can afford the nice things in life and I would love for her to join me when she is a bit older so she has a chance to see the world. My wife does a great job in combining my management with looking after our daughter so I have the freedom to perform as much as I want. It is always hard to leave home but once on tour, it all makes sense to me.

THM: The concert here in Canada, at the Piranha Bar in Montreal on November 9, will also be an acoustic performance. Could you please give us an idea of the setlist? Are you also playing any cover songs from other bands, like Doctor Doctor from UFO, or are you playing your regular setlist with a mix of Blaze Bayley, Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane songs only?

BB: The set will be mainly Iron Maiden songs and maybe also a song from other bands. A lot will depend on the rehearsals as I won’t be performing with my own guitarist. I am looking forward to meeting Some of the Few.

THM: During your world tour in 2011 you played that amazing sequence of dark and heavy songs that are part of a story from Promise and Terror: Surrounded by Sadness, The Trace of Things That Have No Words, Letting Go of the World and Comfortable in Darkness. Are you considering playing the same songs all together again but in an acoustic performance? I know those songs are very important to you, so how do you feel when you play those songs live nowadays?

BB: The songs are great and I like to add them in a set but it sometimes doesn’t work out like that. For next year, I’d like to keep the set fast so they might not fit in there. Acoustic they sound great.

THM: You had to cancel your whole Canadian tour back in 2012, and now in 2013 you’re only going to play one single concert in Canada. How difficult is it for an independent artist like you to organize a full tour in different countries? And how do you see the future of independent bands/artists in the world of Heavy Metal and music in general in the short and long term?

BlazeBayley02BB: It has been extremely difficult to book a tour in the USA and Canada. The agent that booked the 2011 tour, turned out to be not reliable. I think I am just not popular enough over there to get a full tour together. Europe, South America and some other places are ok to get tours together. My manager, my wife, books all my shows with the help of some agents. Since I split up with my full metal band, it has become a lot easier for me to tour as I don’t have to worry if my band can do the show. I just found musicians for the gig instead of finding the gig for the band.

THM: One of your recent tours was together with classical guitarist Thomas Zwijsen, playing songs from his album Nylon Maiden as well as some material from your solo career and Wolfsbane. Are you planning on joining forces with other different types of bands and musicians for some unique projects in a near future? I would love to see you performing together with the guys from Apocalyptica or Van Canto, for example.

BB: Everything is possible. My main focus is of course my own shows, which is what always gets booked first. Then, if some other projects show up, we try to fit them in if it is something that interests me.

THM: What are your favorite bands from Canada? Are there any new Canadian bands that you would recommend us listening to?

BB: I must admit I don’t know many Canadian bands. I performed in the US with Man the Destroyer, who were great guys and I am now guest on Some of the Few so I would say, check them out!

THM: What type of music and/or what bands do you listen to when you’re at home by yourself and with your family? Does your daughter already understand what your music is, and do you play any of your songs for her?

BB: I play a very varied range of music. From folk, to country to pop and of course to heavy metal and rock. We play a lot of music in our house, and although not always metal, my daughter always spots out the songs where I am singing. You can tell she has got a natural feel for music and goes dancing every week too. I think she will be a very expressive and creative girl.

THM: You toured with Iron Maiden in Canada back in 1996 during The X-Factour and in 1998 during the Virtual XI World Tour. What do you remember from those visits to Canada? Was there anything crazy or unusual that happened at that time you would like to share with us?

BB: I remember the fans, they were absolutely crazy and amazing!

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, I really appreciate that. Please feel free to send a special message to your fans in Canada and also to invite them for your acoustic concert in Montreal on November 9 at the Piranha Bar.

BB: Thanks for the interview. I’d like to say a huge thank you to my fans in Canada! I often see their comments on facebook and their orders on the webshop and I would love to perform my own shows there!

Links
Blaze Bayley Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube