Bayley, Blaze - Promise and terror 3.5/5

Reviewed: 5-1-10





Tracklist:

1. Watching the night sky
2. Madness and sorrow
3. 1633
4. God of speed
5. City of bones
6. Faceless
7. Time to dare
8. Surrounded by sadness
9. The trace of things that have no words
10. Letting go of the world
11. Comfortable in darkness


Blaze Bayley’s career finally seems to be gathering a bit of momentum, and after the enforced break caused by the implosion of the Blaze band and being left stranded with no record deal, the ex-Maiden frontman and his new associates haven’t looked back since the self-funded release of their debut ‘The man who would not die’ back in 2008. Near-relentless touring since then – carrying on even after the tragic death of Bayley’s wife – seems to have got them on a roll, as ‘Promise and terror’ is very much ‘part 2’ to its predecessor, a direct continuation of the thoroughly modernised heavy metal style found there.

All the ingredients to ‘The man who would not die’ are left untampered, and although it lessens the overall impact slightly through familiarly, the “if it ain’t broke” adage has never rung truer here. The identical production job certainly aids the continuity, but you get the impression of a band who have found their own sound and are for the moment at least happy to mine it as deep as they can.

The only real discernable difference is that the lyrics here are even more dark and introspective than last time around. There are still ventures into other territories, though overall ‘Promise and terror’ is very much a soul-searching CD, particularly on the final 4 songs which form an interconnected suite where Bayley really digs deep to confront the inner turmoil forced upon him in the last couple of years. Even from the get-go, the lyrics to the opener “Watching the night sky” would be heartbreaking if the song wasn’t such a condescend ass-kicking.

And that is the important thing to remember – just as Bayley hasn’t allowed his tragedies to halt his career, nor has he allowed the music on this CD to be any less hard-hitting than it was before. The riffs are still often quite crushing, and Larry Paterson and David Bermudez provide a rock-solid rhythmic base for everything else, while also leaving room for a bit of flare. “1633” provides the latter with a bit of time in the spotlight, as the lurching bass-line undercuts almost the entire song other than the typically massive chorus.

Bayley of course has been using every ounce of his Maiden experience throughout his solo career, and makes every song as powerful and anthemic as possible, with more sing-a-long “whoa-oh” moments on the CD than many bands would manage in a career.

Other than looking for a catharsis for his demons, the theme of self-empowerment that Bayley has been banging on about for years remains integral to his lyrics, most notably on the speedy, defiant “Faceless”, but even to be found in the slightly melodramatic recounting of an attempt to break the land speed record in “God of speed” or more obviously in “City of bones”, which details the WWII siege of Leningrad. Lyrics are rarely of great importance to me when it comes to enjoying a CD, but while I’d never say Bayley was a legendary wordsmith, the passion he channels into what he sings is integral to the band’s success. The sheer forcefulness of delivery in “The trace of things that have no words” (part 2 of 4 at the end) is breathtaking and no doubt something he wouldn’t have managed were he not pouring his heart and soul into every word.

Compared to ‘The man who would not die’, ‘Promise and terror’ maybe throws up less stand-out winners, but on the whole is probably just as strong as it conversely doesn’t suffer any weaker moments like the uninspired “Crack in the system”. It shows a band of 5 men all pulling in the same direction – the complete opposite of the Blaze band, which eventually led to its untimely collapse – and apparently ready to let nothing stand in their way. One thing you can say about Blaze Bayley is that he certainly practices what he preaches, and he and his crew are living examples of the no compromise attitude he sermonizes on these songs.



CREAG




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