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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

975. Blaze Bayley / Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II). 2017. 3.5/5

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Taking on the second album in his Infinite Entanglement concept trilogy, Blaze Bayley returns in his quest to continue his relevance in the heavy metal field with Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II). There is little doubt that Blaze has been a little bit hit and miss over recent releases. For me it has come from not having a solid backing band and writing conglomerate, but I could be completely mistaken. With the setting for his concept piece already in place and the same co-writers in place, it should have made the writing here a bit more solid.

Starting off with the title track “Endure and Survive” Blaze sets sail on his conceptual journey on the right note, his vocals soaring above the fast paced chorus and dual melodic guitars plying their trade throughout. “Escape Velocity” continues along this path with pleasing effects. “Blood” too moves along driven by the double kick of the drums, but it is the almost ritual chanting of the lyrics that tends to hold up this song. It feels a bit staged rather than comfortably going along with the flow of the music, it comes across as stop start. As the middle of the song becomes the story telling part played by the characters involved, it just makes it hard to fully enjoy. However, it is the end of the song that proves to be the real mover, and shows where the direction should have been all along.
“Eating Lies” slows the album back to a lesser tempo, giving a different emphasis on the band and showing off Blaze’s vocals in different scenario. I still don’t know if I like this song or not. For the most part it doesn’t grab me, yet I do like Blaze coming through the quagmire into the emotive highs he can show, and once again the excellent guitaring by Chris Appleton is showcased in another solo spot that is worth rating the song on alone. “Destroyer” follows a similar path, in a way that is difficult to describe. There doesn’t seem to be much that is brilliant here, but a snatch of vocals and the majority of the guitar solos are terrific and make it worthwhile listening to. The best song on the album is “Dawn of the Dead Son”, one where all of the band are best utilised, and the music and vocalist come together in their best possible light. Its power metal guitar leanings give it the best sound of any song on the album, and Blaze also gives us the soar of his vocals that seem to be missing for the most part on this album. Great song.
The acoustic solitude of “Remember” is enjoyable enough, twinning together his frequent collaborators for another crack after their efforts on the preceding album. The song does have enough energy in the vocals to not make you completely lose your focus on what has come before it, but really it is only forgivable in the sense that it is a part of the story being told for the concept album itself. “Fight Back” brings the album back to life with its double kick and hard strumming rhythm, allowing Blaze to control the song with his vocals, and leave the open air for the excellent solo to chime in towards the end. “The World Is Turning the Wrong Way” chugs along more than gathering momentum, and while it is more than listenable it just feels like it is missing something. “Together We Can Move the Sun” is Blaze’s attempt at the epic closer, clocking in at over 8 minutes and combining the emphatic and soulful vocals mixed with the intrinsic guitar solo, before moving to the quiet and reflective take for the second half of the song. More’s the pity with the constant repeating of certain lyrics over and over, which just ends up becoming annoying rather than definitive. And of course, there is the spoken word element to close out the track, setting the story up for its conclusion to come in the third album of this concept trilogy.

As I have probably mentioned in the review for the preceding album, I am all for Blaze coming out with this concept idea and pursuing it in his own way and with his own style. As an artist it is great to see him still in the market place and making great music. But the trilogy idea is a difficult one to keep on track, especially if it tends to water down the style of music that you have garnered your fans with. Listening to this album for the past couple of weeks, I have found my enjoyment for it growing over that time. The problem is, when I have switched to another album to compare it with, such as Silicon Messiah or The Man Who Would Not Die there has been no comparison. They just metal up harder and faster, and it’s that style of Blaze’s music that I’ve always loved. It isn’t as prevalent now as it was. That will continue to be a stumbling block for me no matter how much I admire the man and his music.

Rating:  It's no The Empire Strikes Back.  3.5/5
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