It may be twenty-one years since he departed Iron Maiden, but the appointment of Blaze Bayley as lead singer in 1994 still divides opinion amongst pockets of the bands hardcore fans. But whatever side of the fence you’re on, the fact remains he will always be a hugely important figure in Maiden’s illustrious history.
Review: Brian Boyle
Although the two albums he recorded with Maiden, ‘The X Factor ‘ (1995) and ‘Virtual Xl’ (1998) won’t go down as classics, tracks like ‘The Clansman’ and ‘Sign Of The Cross’ are popular mainstays today and are cemented into the set on the current ‘Legacy Of The Beast’ tour.
But it was with Wolfsbane where he cut his teeth, and spells with BLAZE and the Blaze Bayley Band have kept his name in the game as one Britain’s most cherished Metal vocalists. As far as unit’s shifted, his work in the solo arena may not have set the world alight, but the Midlands native can still pull a crowd in most territories, in particular Eastern Europe where there’s a lot of love for the man.
This album was recorded over two nights in Brno in the Czech Republic on his ‘Tour Of The Eagle Spirit’ trek, but don’t expect an album doused in Maiden tunes. This collection is largely taken from the trilogy of his ‘Infinite Enlargement’ albums recorded over a three year period between 2016 and 2018.
The album immediately roars to life with the iron fisted ‘The Dark Side Of Black’ and the main man announces his arrival with a menacing roar of “I’m Blaze Bayley, and I’m here to destroy” – the correct way to sweet talk a room full of Metal maniacs and he delivers on his promise.
With the concert being recorded in the intimate surroundings of the Melodka Music Club, the album is not fitted with a big chunky expansive sound, but meat and potatoes performances of ‘A Thousand Years’, ‘Dark Energy 256’ and ‘The World Is Turning The Wrong Way’ put you smack bang in heart of the action.
Plus having seventy five percent of British melodic Metallers Absolva as your backing band makes for a titanic ring of steel and they compliment Blaze perfectly.
With the guts of four decades in the trade the 56-year-old’s pipes are holding up nicely, his distinct rasp on the battling ‘Solar Wind’ bearing all the hallmarks of a man enjoying middle aged Metalhood.
The first sniff of Maiden comes with the freewheeling ‘Virus’, which doesn’t really hold a candle to its mothership original, but it’s most definitely not tribute band level.
The intense power of ‘Silicon Messiah’ and ‘Calling You Home’ hit you with a brutal wallop and were born for live play, as well as reminding you of the intelligence Blaze possesses as a songwriter.
But come on, the vast majority of us are just itching for some Iron ‘fuckin’ Maiden, and he let’s his Czech disciples have it with a triumphant finale of ‘Man On The Edge’, ‘Futureal’ and ‘The Clansman’, probably his finest moments as Maiden frontman.
Yes they’re wasted in the confines of a sweaty club and you don’t get the first class luxury of the Gers and Murray axe assault, but Christopher Appelton’s heroics makes these songs take on a new persona.
As for Blaze, well these tunes still roll off his lips with all conquering ease and you wouldn’t expect anything less from this true Metal warrior.
BLAZE BAYLEY: ‘LIVE IN CZECH’
Release Date: 3rd April 2020
The Dark Side Of Black
A Thousand Years
Dark Energy 256
The World Is Turning The Wrong Way
Together We Can Move The Sun
Life Goes On
The Day I Fell To Earth
Calling You Home
Stare At The Sun
Man On The Edge