Blaze Bayley - The Redemption Of William Black review
|Album:||The Redemption Of William Black|
|Release date:||March 2018|
02. Are You Here
03. Immortal One
04. The First True Sign
05. Human Eyes
06. Prayers Of Light
07. 18 Days
08. Already Won
09. Life Goes On
10. The Dark Side Of Black
11. Eagle Spirit
Don't you think I could save ya?.
While I have long known and listened to Blaze's work in both Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane and to differing degrees enjoyed his work in both, I have never really given his solo (well in partnership with Absolva) material a try, and so I took the opportunity to acquaint myself with a figure who has largely been relegated to a footnote in metal history. The Redemption Of William Black is the third and final instalment to the Infinite Entanglement saga that has traversed three albums and sees its conclusion here. If you want a brief cliff notes recap of the story I would google it, as I could not really abbreviate it in good detail without either condensing the story to nothing or giving the story away, but if this proves too much for you then good news, this album is enjoyable without knowing the story (although the lyrics do seem barmy without context).
While the album is enjoyable without being well versed in the story, Blaze perhaps overloads himself in trying to be the storyteller, with tracks like "18 Days" being pulled down by the anchor that is story exposition. His role is overtaken in moving the story along to the point that the verses are so packed that it inhibits his ability to sing, let alone let the story breathe. This is a common theme for much of the album, though it varies track to track, I think Blaze could have done with a less complex tale or let the audience fill in the tale in places to allow himself to focus on his performance rather than bogging himself down in the blanks.
It is perhaps because you are so focused on trying to listen to the music while balancing trying to piece the tale together that you find the album flying by and drawing to its conclusion without you noticing. Clocking in at just under 50 minutes, the album feels far shorter than its running time would suggest, perhaps because I find "Human Eyes" and "Life Goes On" as landmarks in the album, songs that punctuate the flow of the album.
Bayley's voice does show itself a little worse for wear, lacking in the power that gave him an imposing presence at the very least. He is aging gracefully at least; never known for being the most versatile singer, he is at least able to hit the notes he used to. "Human Eyes" serves as a showcase of the man's pipes and is a somewhat decent track for it, a stripped-back morose acoustic track that builds into a up tempo rocker towards the song's end, though by song's end, Blaze's melodramatic delivery does become a parody of itself.
Of course, Blaze is not the sole person on this record, with Absolva serving as his supporting cast musically. I find myself oddly taken by the somewhat lo-fi charm the band have; though they play nothing spectacular and sound like a garage band, it fits the aesthetic of the album and gives it a feel that can't help but endear itself to you. Even though the drums sound hollow and powerless ("The First True Sign") and the bass is barely audible, they work well alongside the guitars to create a feel that somehow works.
One funny part to note listening to this album is that I never realized Chris Jericho had a penchant for appearing on sci-fi concept albums (having prior appeared as Captain Spectacular on [band]Devin Townsend[band]'s Dark Matters), narrating the spoken word introduction to "Prayers Of Light". While his appearance is practically a cameo role, it was a fun unexpected swerve. Jericho though is not the sole guest; indeed, The Redemption Of William Black has quite a roll call to its name, though Jericho is probably the best known among them.
So, to get to the part I'm sure you wish I got to quicker, is it any good? Well, tracks like "Are You Here", "The Dark Side Of Black" and "Human Eyes" hit me harder than I expected, with the rest of the album being just on the good side of average. Depending on what you expect going into this album will paint your feelings coming out of this album; I honestly didn't have high hopes and so it scraping into the 'average with some good moments here and there' category is exceeding expectation. While this doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, I would make time to hear out some of his solo material; he does have a few gems scattered here and there.
||Written on 18.10.2020 by|
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