William Black has digestive problems - A review of Blaze Bayley's " Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II)"
Blaze Bayley's Infinite Entanglement record was his most successful release since his debut solo record in the beginning of the millennium in terms of critical acclaim and financial profits. From an artistic point of view, it was however one of Blaze Bayley's least inspiring releases. Exchangeable traditional heavy metal with a terrible production met an average conceptual science-fiction story. The reason why this record was so successful is probably due to the fact that science-fiction themes are quite popular these days and it seems like Blaze Bayley simply jumped on the bandwagon here. Blaze Bayley is a hard-working, honest and sympathetic artist who surely deserves this success but I wasn't too excited about the fact that the last release was the first installment in a trilogy.
Endure and Survive is a step in the right direction in my opinion. First of all, the production improved by a mile. The bass guitar isn't as annoyingly dominating as on the previous release. Maybe the bass guitar is even a little bit too much in the background this time around but that's still better than what was offered on the previous output where that instrument buried everything else. The vocals also sound a little bit more balanced. They are still nasal and overtly dramatic but this time the record doesn't sound as if it consisted of under-produced first takes only. Secondly, the release has a more cinematic and epic atmosphere thanks to more spoken-word passages and conceptual interludes. The story is also getting more interesting. It picks up exactly where the previous record left us and ends with quite a cliffhanger.
This release's biggest flaw is that it sounds very similar to the first installment. The album basically consists of nine rather short mid-tempo heavy metal songs without any surprises and a more epic album closer that ends this release on a gripping note. The rhythm section sounds particularly uninspired since the bass guitar is almost inaudible and the drum patterns are as exchangeable as it gets. The guitar work is better than on the predecessor and offers enchanting acoustic guitar melodies, melancholic riffs and passionate solos. Blaze Bayley gives everything he has on the vocals and his enthusiasm is somehow contagious and almost carries this release on its own. Still, the album is definitely missing a standout track that delivers anything above a good average idea.
Despite its futuristic topic, this album is as conservative as it gets from a musical point of view. If you like old-fashioned mid-tempo heavy metal that could have been released thirty years ago and a science-fiction story that could come from one of the numerous recent video games in the key of Alien, Mass Effect and Soma, this record will fully satisfy you. If you expect something more courageous and creative, you might consider this release good average at best. It's slightly better than Infinite Entanglement but not by much. On a closing side note, the silly album artwork is weird and looks as if the main character had digestive problems. I hope that Blaze Bayley improves in the artwork, production and song writing departments for the third and final part of the trilogy which is due to come out next year.
Final rating: 72%« Les Louves de VladivostokGhost in the Shell (2017) - More of the same on a consistent level - 7/10 (12/04/17) »
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