Released: 2016, BB Recordings
I really respect Blaze Bayley. He has been plugging away in the industry as a solo artist since leaving Iron Maiden, going on two decades ago, (well 17 years and counting). In the bigger picture he has been going since 1984 or so. He just quietly goes about his business, making album after album after album for the few faithful like myself. He even has a sense of humour and an understanding of his place in the larger Metal pantheon as evidenced by the name of his 2001 Wolfsbane compilation CD, LIFESTYLES OF THE BROKE AND OBSCURE.
If you think about it, Blaze has slowly building a reputation as a Science-fiction guy (VIRTUAL XI, TENTH DIMENSION, SILICON MESSIAH) as well and here we are in 2016 with yet another Sci-Fi themed, solo album called INFINITE ENTANGLEMENT. This is Blaze’s first, true and fully realized concept album. IT is also a true solo album again as he has a complete line-up overhaul, all new players helping him and a credited list of another dozen guests vocalists and musicians.
The first thing that struck me was how gorgeous the packaging and presentation is for this disc. Since the release of his last album (THE KING OF METAL in 2012) Blaze decided to releases a series of digital only live albums as a way to raise money for the funding of this album. I personally do not like idea. It devalues the live album experience if a band constantly releases crappy bootlegs. Bayley swamped the market with about a dozen, digital only live albums in the past few years but despite my complaining his technique to raise money obviously worked because, it is clear much of that funding went into the packaging and production of INFINITE ENTANGLEMENT. It sounds superb and looks great. There is a 28-page full-colour booklet with lots of graphics, lyrics, photos and so on. I like the effort because it helps bring the story to life.
The story set 100 years in the future is about seven people who have been selected to go on a long-term space mission to another planet and the effects of having artificially induced longevity on the human psyche. The lyrics are as much a mystery/horror as Sci-fi story, which is the first part of a trilogy. There is some nice narration between each song to move the story along.
This time Blaze’s backing band is essentially the band Absolvia with all three guys having membership in that band and Luke Appleton also doing time in Iced Earth as well. Collectively they have put together some of the best music Blaze has ever done. There is a real sense of pace and energy all across the album, the first two songs just fly along as does album highlight ‘Dark Energy 256’. It is not all fast there are a variety of tones and tempos with orchestral parts, some light violin, acoustic guitar and some longer acoustic introductions that could be at home on any recent Iron Maiden album. There is a neat atmospheric, instrumental/spoken word part called ‘The Dreams of William Black’, that appears halfway through the album serving as a well-placed intermission if you will. Bailey’s distinct voice is still in top form, hitting highs and lows with ease as he plays the protagonist, the aforementioned William Black. The accompaniment by a variety of voices, the guest singers playing different characters, adds layers of depth not heard before on a Blaze Bayley album.
To summarize, INFINITE ENTANGLEMENT is Blaze Bayley’s fastest, heaviest, and most atmospheric, most complex and most melodic solo album, all at once. It is a real tour-de-force. I can’t wait for Part 2!