Blaze Bayley’s solo material hasn’t gotten the same exposure as the two albums he recorded as the singer of Iron Maiden, but anyone in his small but loyal fanbase can tell you how much stronger it tends to be. His career has been steady despite constant personnel shifts, but his first two efforts, 2000’s Silicon Messiah and 2002’s The Tenth Dimension, tend to be the most revered due in part to their sci-fi lyrical themes. Bayley’s seventh solo album sees him return to past tropes, but reintroduces them as the first installment of what is set to be a three album story arc.
The scope of Blaze’s ambition might be as intimidating as his alma mater releasing a double album last year, but the lyrical theme never feels like too much to handle. The story centers on a man who is given an extended lifespan and sent into space, but the lyrics tend to focus on his feelings of isolation and determination rather than the nitty-gritty details. The story is also given some mystery by the brief spoken segment that bookend songs throughout, but they don’t linger for too long.
Thus like any good concept album, the music takes center stage. The bulk of the songs are the usual fist-pumping, traditional metal fare; songs like “A Thousand Years” and “Human” are upbeat sing-alongs that recall Helloween or Sabaton, while the darker crunch on “Stars Are Burning” sounds vaguely like something King Diamond would do. “What Will Come” also stands out for the smooth flamenco guitar work that was no doubt inspired by the acoustic tours that Blaze has recently undertaken.
However, the album can feel rather off balance at times. In addition to the second half being less memorable than the first, a couple tracks may be a little too reliant on their Maidenisms, with the guitar melody on “Dark Energy 256” in particular sounding derivative of “Futureal.” The production also leans too much in the vocals’ favor at times, resulting in Blaze potentially drowning the band out during the album’s more subtle moments.
While Infinite Entanglement isn’t as godly as Blaze’s more established solo efforts, it does a good job of making sure its ambition doesn’t come at the expense of the songwriting. Much like the seminal Operation: Mindcrime, its overarching ideas are compelling, but the individual songs will work to keep listeners interested. Either way, I have more faith in Blaze Bayley being able to sustain a trilogy than I do in Geoff Tate…
“A Thousand Years”
“What Will Come”
“Stars Are Burning”