By Robert Bayley
The latest offering from metal’s most underrated musician. The King of Metal marks Blaze Bayley’s first forray as a true solo artist.
Much more an idiosyncratic affair than his previous (best) albums The Man Who Would Not Die and flawless future classic Promise and Terror.
Not to confuse ‘idiosyncratic’ with ‘personal’ however. All his albums convey very personal feeling, from Silicon Messiah onwards. Indeed Promise and Terror is incomparable – the last four tracks forming a 21 minute cycle dealing with his wife’s death.
No, idiosyncratic. What comes across in the album is almost a schoolboy enthusiasm for metal.
Blaze isn’t one for singing the praises of his genre as many artists are but here he seems wrapped up in the subject. Openers The King of Metal and Dimebag exemplify this.
The former, despite expectations, addresses the listener, a song proclaiming that the fan is the true King of Metal. Lovely sentiment unique to this genre but the latter demonstrates equal fascination with the darkest end of the spectrum.
This is an honest, brutal and heartbreaking account of the last night of the titular musician. Its skill is in its bare honesty. A tribute in a chronicle, naked emotion laid raw, as though wrapping it in a metaphor would make it comparable to anything, which it was not.
After this nuclear opening, the album is a fluctuating affair. Both Black Country and The Rainbow Fades to Black are exciting but they’re not the calibre expected of Blaze.
Fate marks a change of quality and delivers something that initially feels particularly generic, but once repeated becomes something undefinably unique. It slaps the listener for not recognising its obvious singularity beneath a heavy, clever veneer of obviousness.
One More Step takes an opposite path by being something Blaze has never done before. Full-on piano ballad, it shouldn’t work, yet somehow does perfectly.
Here one realises the range of his voice. Surely one of the greatest voices of metal, here he shows why; not for his relentless power but for how wonderfully he conveys emotion.
Fighter is rousing but mounting cheesiness robs it of power. You’ll see what I mean. Judge Me is another good song, but for a man like Blaze it feels like filler, as does the generally good Difficult. From the man who brought us classics like Blood and Belief and The Man Who Would Not Die this doesn’t pack the instant wallop.
Despite all this though, this reviewer gets the feeling that much like Tenth Dimension or Promise and Terror this might be one you increasingly find yourself returning to.
A lesser album, but then, that’s like saying E.T isn’t as good as Close Encounters.
This feels new; production is raw creating a Blaze Bayley garage feel. The instruments feel less as a result. They reached an operatic synthesis in Promise and Terror. Here everything’s less consequential, but then I think it’s supposed to be. It’s like the darkness clouded the last albums and here’s the rebirth.
The King of Metal by Blaze Bailey is out May 20, via Blaze Bailey Recordings. Catch him on the UK leg of his King of Metal World Tour from May 1.