THE KING OF METAL
It’s amazing how many people out there only know Blaze Bayley from the two Iron Maiden albums where Steve Harris went through writer’s block. Because of how lame THE X FACTOR and VIRTUAL XI were, Bayley always got blamed. Since most people weren’t familiar with the rest of his catalog, they seemingly went along with it. That’s a shame though, because those of us that know albums like BLOOD AND BELIEF and SILICON MESSIAH know there is some KILLER metal out there that Bayley has put his name on over the years.
With THE KING OF METAL, Bayley does what he does best and he does it pretty well here. Considering that Bayley has been through just a ton of bad things over the last decade or so (wife dying, completely losing/firing his entire band, being unceremoniously tossed out of one of the biggest metal bands ever), it’s surprising that Bayley continues to create such quality material as he’s done here with THE KING OF METAL. Still, THE KING OF METAL showcases sides of Bayley that he’s rarely, if ever, shown before. Songs like the surprising piano ballad “One More Step” show that this guy is not invincible at all, but sometimes is pushed to the brink by all the things that have happened in his life. It’s a surprisingly moving song, and may just be the most real song of his entire catalog.
As for the rest of the material, it’s pretty much classic Blaze Bayley. Songs like “Fighter” and “The Rainbow Fades To Black” are galloping numbers that will have your head bobbing as you listen. For his part, Bayley is in pretty good voice although not the best he’s ever been. While his voice may be losing a touch of bite with age, he’s certainly not deteriorating like Brian Johnson with AC/DC or even anything close to that. Still, you hear a little bit of warble on songs like “Judge Me”. It’s insignificant though.
The only definitive negative to the album is the song “Dimebag”. I get it – its tributizing the Pantera guitar legend. Still, it’s so play by play to that fateful night in Columbus, Ohio. It’s far too informative about a bad situation instead of feeling like a true tribute. I’m sure the intention is good, but that day is one that’s better left unspoken of.
PITRIFF RATING – 82/100 – I don’t think Blaze will ever top the brilliance of SILICON MESSIAH. That’s one of those desert island records for me. THE KING OF METAL is a solid slab of metal the way Blaze Bayley is best known for playing it. Quality metal from Mr. Bayley.