Blaze Bayley - Russian Holiday (2013) - Introspective lyrics in acoustic grace - 72% (26/05/14)
After the release of the polarizing but in my opinion incredibly strong “The King Of Metal” last year, Blaze Bayley went on to perform several acoustic shows with his new and talented Belgian guitar player Thomas Zwijsen. They decided to do also a few acoustic tracks in studio for a new EP entitled “Russian Holiday”.
This new release with a very beautiful cover artwork by Alberto Quirantes Calvo features new versions of four songs with the participation of Blaze Bayley that have been released during the past twenty years: “Stealing Time” from the Blaze record “Tenth Dimension” in 2002, “Soundtrack Of My Life” from the Blaze album “Blood & Belief” in 2004, “One More Step” from Blaze Bayley's 2012 output “The King Of Metal” and finally the legendary and well interpreted “The Sign Of The Cross” from the 1995 Iron Maiden release “The X-Factor”. The brand new title song can also be found on this release.
The record is very simplistic and sympathetic. It focuses a lot on the well played acoustic guitars and a few violin parts done by Anne Bakker. These violin parts sound well and are not used in each single track but they sound a little bit too loud and don’t always harmonize with the guitars. The production is only of an average quality but the record is still enjoyable to listen to. Blaze Bayley's vocals are as they always are: emotional, strong but sometimes also a little bit out of tone. They sound a little bit better than on the last release though that had several technical mistakes despite its greatness.
The highlight of the EP is the new track “Russian Holiday”. The guitar melodies are simply beautiful, the lyrics intriguing and personal and at the same straight to the heart instead of being too philosophical and last but not least Blaze Bayley delivers a passionate vocal performance. My favorite part is the surprising Flamenco bridge in the middle of the track that happens to be the most vivid moment on the entire record. This song is a really strong one and would have also had its reasons to be included on the last regular release.
In the end, Blaze Bayley fans should absolutely get their hands on this entertaining gem. The new title track alone is worth your attention and money. Occasional fans can though skip this EP and should rather purchase the greatest hits compilation "Soundtracks Of My Life".
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