BLAZE BAYLEY – War Within Me (2021)
It happens to me every time when I listen to a new BLAZE BAYLEY song; it takes me back to the very early ’80s when I heard the first IRON MAIDEN album. It wasn’t different with his new album ”War Within Me”.
A startling 21 years have passed since Blaze Bayley released his first solo record, but perhaps more importantly, it is 13 years since he released the first to bear his full name, but also a record that loudly rewrote Blaze’s musical manifesto, pushing him ever further into epic, red-blooded classic metal.
Since that point, he has been on excellent form, as showcased via the criminally overlooked trio of “Infinite Entanglement” albums, which climaxed with 2018’s “The Redemption of William Black”.
Three years on, “War Within Me” will doubtless be widely reviewed with endless allusions to its creator’s dogged persistence and perennial underdog status as a backdrop. But really this is a heroic and supremely confident traditional metal record, and BLAZE has never sounded more confident or fired up.
The rarely spoken truth about Blaze’s tenure with MAIDEN is that he contributed a hatful of gleaming classics to the band’s illustrious repertoire and threw himself into live performances with the bug-eyed zeal of a madman.
Regardless of how history views that era, Blaze Bayley remains an absolutely stellar metal singer, and “War Within Me” finds him in great voice, oozing authority throughout.
Pleasingly heavy and sonically vibrant, these songs proudly inhabit the same musical world that Blaze has effectively claimed as his own since leaving his high-profile former job.
This is an impressive demonstration of how to make powerful, melodic heavy music that defies time and trend. Throw in the presence of a vocalist who seems to be improving with age, and it’s obvious from the fiery bombast of the opening title track that this is going to be a nailed-on career highlight.
Blaze’s partnership with guitarist Chris Appleton continues to bloom, too: everything from “303”‘s effortless hooks to “Pull Yourself Up”‘s thunderous, self-help eruption confirms that the same chemistry that enabled them to whack out three albums in as many years is still fizzing away in this strange new world of ours.
Ultimately, “War Within Me” is an album full of big songs and big ideas.
Blaze’s lyrical journey continues to propel him through the realms of science and philosophy: there’s a real wide-eyed joy evident in nominal trilogy “The Dream of Alan Turing”, “The Power of Nikola Tesla” and “The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking”, as some of the strongest melodies of the Brit’s career collide with concepts and suppositions that could only grow from a genuine fascination with the subject.
Meanwhile, closing ballad “Every Storm Ends” provides soothing respite and a stunning, powerhouse vocal from the man himself.
01 – War Within Me
02 – 303
03 – Warrior
04 – Pull Yourself Up
05 – Witches Night
06 – 18 Flights
07 – The Dream of Alan Turing
08 – The Power of Nikola Tesla
09 – The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking
10 – Every Storm Ends
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums