Bayley, Blaze - The king of metal 3/5

Reviewed: 5-1-12





Tracklist:

1. The king of metal
2. Dimebag
3. The black country
4. The rainbow fades to black
5. Fate
6. One more step
7. Fighter
8. Judge me
9. Difficult
10. Beginning


The logo at the top and the dreary black-grey cover art may be the same, but don’t be fooled – this isn’t the same band that recorded ‘The man who would not die’ and ‘Promise and terror’. The warning signs came when affable drummer Larry Paterson walked after disputes with Blaze Bayley’s new management, but the sudden sacking of the remaining 3 members a few months later, with the singer pleading poverty, was a hammer blow to those who had followed them since they came together in 2007.

It seemed that Bayley had learned lessons from the farcical collapse of the band’s previous iteration as Blaze, but only a few short years later the situation is almost exactly the same, with a revolving door of touring musicians performing music stolen from under the noses of those who both wrote it and burst their arses touring it in shoeboxes the world across.

All this make it hard to stomach the “most hard done by man in the music business” persona Bayley has been portraying himself as in his lyrics recently, and after ruthlessly chopping the men who helped build him back up from nothing, most of the words that escape the singer’s mouth on the CD leave a sour taste in the mouth.

But ignoring that, the first thing to notice about ‘The king of metal’ is that the production is a lot muddier than the clean but razor-sharp approach of the 2 previous CDs, with the opening title track’s double-bass and fast chugging riffs blurring together somewhat into a disagreeable sludge. The next thing to notice is that this song is a load of crap. Short, underdeveloped, riding only a couple of pithy riffs for its duration and suffering a hilariously stupid breakdown, it is a serious misfire to open proceedings and feels like a bit of an afterthought thrown together to provide a fast opening song.

Musically more accomplished, but lyrically criminal, “Dimebag” comes next and continues the worrisome opening. Quite what inspired such an unusually personal bout of grief in Bayley the best part of a decade after Darrell Abbott’s murder is quite the mystery, but regardless the lyrics are a shockingly literal “Smoke on the water”-style “and then this happened, and then that happened” account of the incident followed by some distasteful self-insertion that give the song that same uneasy, self-important feeling much of the CD suffers from.

After such a poor opening, that old sinking feeling was setting in, but in truth the CD – while a definite step down from its predecessors – is actually not all that bad. There are a couple more clunkers before proceedings end, but on the whole Thomas Zwijsen, the touring musician picked out to write the biggest percentage of the music, has done a sturdy job and is a talented enough guitar player.

There are a couple of attempts at broadening Bayley’s musical scope, and while some are successful, it overall gives ‘The king of metal’ a disjointed feel that was absent on its 2 straight-ahead predecessors. While the piano ballad “One more step” is a bold attempt at something new, it just doesn’t work. But while it feels clumsy and overly sentimental, the closing acoustic track “Beginning” is far more successful, and Bayley’s subdued thunder plays out well over the delicate chiming.

Jase Edwards, again on mixing duties, is the co-author of “The black country”, and while the rocking groove of the verses feels somewhat out of place (almost as though it were a leftover from the recent Wolfsbane comeback CD...), the inspiring melodies give ‘The king of metal’ a solid boost after the dismal opening salvo.

The rest is a reasonably successful facsimile of the style on the 2 previous CDs under the Blaze Bayley name, and generally make for similarly agreeable modern metal fare. Newcomers and casual listeners will probably find it more agreeable, but those who watched a band come together from nothing and build a solid platform for themselves will be less forgiving after watching one member throw the other 4 under the bus to use that platform for his own gain.

I usually try to avoid getting so personal when reviewing, but as someone who invested in the Blaze Bayley band, ‘The king of metal’ feels like a betrayal – not of the fans, who in the end can vote with their wallets, but of the 4 hard-working musicians who made us fans in the first place. It’s not a bad CD, but it’s a morally bankrupt one.



CREAG




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