• William Black needs a nasal spray - A review of Blaze Bayley's ''Infinite Entanglement''

    Blaze Bayley - Infinite Entanglement (2016)

    ''Infinite Entanglement'' is the first strike of a conceptual trilogy that goes back to Blaze Bayley's beloved space theme that already dominated his first solo outputs ''Silicon Messiah'' and ''Tenth Dimension''. This album sounds less diversified, emotional and spontaneous than the controversial predecessor ''The King of Metal'' and presents Blaze Bayley's more consistent, intellectual and structured side. His seventh full length solo output in sixteen years comes around with twelve short and consistent tracks that don't feature any unnecessary lengths. The music is deeply rooted in traditional heavy metal but varies from slow-paced ballads with acoustic guitars and violins such as ''What Will Come'' over catchy mid-tempo anthems like ''Human'' to vivid upper mid-tempo tracks in the key of ''Dark Energy 256''.

    Obviously, the sympathetic singer will always be compared to his former band Iron Maiden and I must admit that he tries to take advantage of this association since many tracks on this album are closely inspired by the British heavy metal legends. The dominating and galloping bass sound, the melodic twin guitar solos and the tight drumming recall the band on almost every single track. Some parts such as the opening riff of ''Dark Energy 256'' that is a variation of the main riff of ''Futureal'' are simply stated weaker copies of the original classics. At least Blaze Bayley's songwriting is much more to the point, features a slightly progressive atmosphere throughout the entire album and includes some interesting narrative parts and interludes to give the listener a more cinematic experience. 

    Maybe some fans are expecting Blaze Bayley to sound exactly like he did when he was in Iron Maiden but he has proven on his last solo album and on several guest appearances with bands such as Alexy's Square and Sinnergod that either mid-paced hard rock or a slower gothic rock style suit his emotional yet limited vocals much better nowadays. The less metal and more rock orientated tracks like the energizing ''A Thousand Years', the harmonious ''Stars Are Burning'', the relaxing ''Solar Wind' and the heartwarming ''Calling You Home''' sound much more natural, harmonize well with Blaze Bayley's unique vocals and can be cited as highlights.

    The production of this new album is an issue. The drums sound too dry, the guitars lack power and the sound is dominated by the bass guitar and the vocals. Blaze Bayley sounds too often out of tone and nasal and parts of the lyrics are particularly hard to understand during the verses of many tracks. Instead of hiding his flaws with a more homogeneous production, it exposes them constantly. The faster vocal parts in the opening title track ''Infinite Entanglement'' are plain irritating and the constantly struggling vocal efforts in the otherwise relaxing ''What Will Come'' don't fit at all. Blaze Bayley's exaggerated intonations don't fit to the music. One can hear that he put his heart and soul into these songs but they just sound annoying and he should have requested some help from a vocal coach here.

    In the end we have a good average heavy metal record but a slightly below average Blaze Bayley album with numerous tracks that offer interesting variations of heavy metal music. The album has a clear guiding line in form of a slightly epic and progressive tone. This is supported by an intellectually appealing lyrical concept, entertaining narrative parts and atmospheric interludes such as ''The Dreams of William Black''. Despite the ambitious approach, the tracks are always to the point and offer a few catchy choruses and harmonious twin guitar solos. On the other side, the production is too thin for such a project, the vocals sound overly theatrical, nasal and loud in both the ballads and the heavier tracks and the album misses a stunning track that truly tries to break new ground.

    Final rating: 7/10

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