Review Summary: Forget all you know about Blaze Bayley.
Considering Blaze Bayley's past, most notably with Iron Maiden, titling an album The Man Who Would Not Die
seems a bit self-indulgent and over-the-top. You know, kind of like something Al Atkins or Paul Di'Anno would do. But as pretentious as it may sound, there is some truth to it. Bayley's first band, Wolfsbane, barely made a blip on the 80s metal scene, and we all know how his stint with Iron Maiden turned out. Since forming Blaze Bayley (formerly B L A Z E) and releasing Silicon Messiah
in 2000, Bayley's musical output has been highly praised by critics, yet for all the acclaim it has gotten, the band has hardly left a mark on modern metal.
Let's get one thing straight. The Man Who Would Not Die
is not a rehash of Bayley's Maiden years. There are (vague) similarities, of course, but the majority of the album is rooted in a heavy variant of power metal, not unlike Iron Savior, Tad Morose, or even Bruce Dickinson's solo work. New guitarists Nick Bermudez and Jay Walsh's riffs are not only meatier than any featured on The X Factor
or Virtual XI
, but are also more varied throughout the seventy-two minute album. Bermudez and Walsh, each of whom joined the band in 2007, trade off galloping riffs, driving harmonies, chunky power chords, and on occasion thrashy chugging riffs. While this isn't particularly unique or original, the album is written tastefully enough that the guitar work remains a force during the album.
Equally as important are Bayley's vocal efforts. While the frontman hasn't changed his mid-to-low range singing style, The Man Who Would Not Die
fits his technique better than Iron Maiden did, and as result, Blaze sounds stronger and more confident. In "Samurai" and "Blackmailer" feature Bayley's voice is remarkably similar to ex-Tad Morose vocalist Urban Breed, and he hits the deeper, low-ranged notes flawlessly. Bayley does have some iffy moments in which he spits out some tacky lines (similar to the chorus in "Futureal"), but this is limited to a few obscure moments on the album, most notably in the six minute album closer, "Serpent Hearted Man".
As well as The Man Who Would Not Die
is written and performed, its greatest flaw (and closest similarity to The X Factor
, ironically enough) is its accessibility. The riff driven title track and "Blackmailer" open the record with unrelenting aggression, a sound that the seven minute "Smile Back At Death" attempts to bridge with a mid-paced ballad-esque piece. It's an obvious attempt at an epic track by Bayley, and while he seems to succeed after repeated listens, there's too much going on, and track is a bit difficult to digest. "Crack in the System" and "Robot" are also over reliant on the band's guitarists, and the riff work often overpowers the rest of the track, creating a tedious mood.
For those not familiar with Blaze Bayley's most recent works, The Man Who Would Not Die
will likely come across as a bit of a surprise. Over the past ten years, the vocalist has made a marked improvement in both his singing and song writing ability that even fans of The X Factor
or Virtual XI
(such as myself) will recognize. Though Blaze Bayley's fourth studio album isn't nearly as atypical as The X Factor
, nor does it differ too drastically from Silicon Messiah
or Tenth Dimension
, the majority of the record makes for a rather enjoyable listen that fans of power and traditional metal should enjoy. It's just too bad it won't ever get the attention it deserves.