Whenever someone of the calibre of Blaze Bayley releases an album I and many others feel a shudder of anticipation. I also feel a little trepidation – hoping that he has released an album that will help lift his career back up where it belongs. The ex-Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden singer has had a career akin to a roller coaster and has suffered some cruel and rough times over the years. It has to be pointed out that he has had no tougher time than now and I would personally like to wish his wife and manager Debbie all the very best on the road to recovery following her July collapse and subsequent coma.
It is high time that Blaze was recognised for what he is and not for what he never quite was. When Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden they turned to fellow New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Wolfsbane and invited their singer Blaze to fill the rather huge gap. It turned out to be ill advised for both parties and Blaze was never really accepted into the role before eventually leaving, on Bruce’s return, to strike out on a solo path. That solo career has also seen some stutters along the way too. But Blaze has resolutely stuck at what he does best and has now produced one of his best albums to date.
The Man Who Would Not Die sees Blaze gather around him a highly impressive band with Nick Bermudez and Jay Walsh on guitars, Lawrence Paterson on drums and bass player Dave Bermudez. The album notes have Blaze himself telling us that he had reached a particularly low moment at the beginning of 2007. Fortunately from that point he got this band line up together and began the process of putting the album in place. He couldn’t have chosen better and the band combines together to fire on all cylinders throughout.
The album opens with the high octane title track, the lyrics of which leave you wondering if they are semi autobiographical. His voice is on excellent form particularly on “Smile Back At Death” and “Voices From The Past” both of which remind you what a powerhouse he is. The relentless and defiant “Robot” and “The Truth Is One” will leave you gasping for air. However it is the two excellent slower tempo power ballads the Maidenesque “While You Were Gone” and “At The End Of The Day” that really stand out and showcase Blaze’s ability to add emotion and atmosphere by the lorry load.
It takes a huge strength of character to survive the set backs this man has endured but that is exactly what he manages to do here within the album. The word to best sum up this album is defiant and that powerful emotion brings out the heart and the soul of Blaze Bayley resulting in some of his best ever vocals. It is high time that he took his place among the metal elite. Let’s hope that The Man Who Would Not Die helps him gain that long overdue recognition.