Blaze Bayley - War Within Me

edited July 27 in Year-2021

The kind of metal created by Blaze Bayley in 2021 doesn't work for me anymore, it just leaves me motionless and sick of the whole scene.

Blaze Bayley - War Within Me

ARTIST: Blaze Bayley
ALBUM: War Within Me
LABEL: Blaze Bayley Recordings
YEAR: 2021

LINEUP: Blaze Bayley - vocals * Christopher Appleton - guitar * Karl Schramm - bass * Martin McNee - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 War Within Me * 02 303 * 03 Warrior * 04 Pull Yourself Up * 05 Witches Night * 06 18 Flights * 07 The Dream of Alan Turing * 08 The Power of Nikola Tesla * 09 The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking * 10 Every Storm Ends

RATING: Score of 20%


As my review writing days become sparser by the year, I'm still somehow drawn to write the odd review that captures my attention - usually for the wrong reasons. As a stalwart of the metal scene since his days with Wolfsbane, Blaze Bayley has led a long career of ups and down. His stint with Iron Maiden led to the serious, brooding Bayley we've seen for almost 30 years.

Since his departure from Iron Maiden Bayley has released an endless parade of solo albums, none of which spring to mind immediately. Let's just say there's been a ton of them. While browsing Spotify some weeks back I came across this album in a new releases folder. I decided to give it a shot, wondering what old Blaze is up to these days. What resulted is a set of metal so stale, so worn out in sound and execution, that I realized why I gave up on new metal a long time back.

Blaze Bayley pic 2021

The Songs

This album is the kind of boring power metal I suspected died in 2002 with obscenities like Hammerfall, Gamma Ray or Helloween. It's the type of metal I could imagine a bunch of guys in their 50's headbanging to, still wearing their bullet belts and denim vests from 1982.

The title track is fast and has some riffs going on, but melodically it's flat and uninspired. I probably would have loved this in 1997, but time moves on and Bayley is probably just happy to still put music out at all. There's a track called 'Warrior' that is a power ballad of sorts, the Maiden inspired guitar work obvious. Bayley sings about being a fighter until the end. Don't count him out!

There's a trio of songs called 'The Dream of Alan Turing', 'The Power of Nikola Tesla' and The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking' that seem to portray Blaze's obsession with science. It seems more pompous than anything. Is this the same guy who used to be a rebellious hellraiser? I say that every time I review an album with Bayley, but it isn't any less true than it was in 1995. Blaze ends the album recalling Iron Maiden's classic '2 a.m'. with the introspective ballad 'Every Storm Ends'. He's a survivor you know. Every song will remind you of this fact.

In Summary

I don't fault Blaze for keeping his career going, I mean what else is there for him to do? But how does he make any money from these albums? Who buys this stuff? Who still gets excited about it? Maybe that's just my cynical take, but this kind of metal doesn't work for me anymore.

I suppose that's the 'war within me' these days. I'm more content to listen to Blaze belting out 'Killing Machine' or 'I Like It Hot'. This album just leaves me motionless and sick of the whole scene.


War Within Me


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    And that's the beauty of music... I couldn't disagree more.

    To me this is a cracking, if predictable, metal album that plays to Blaze's strengths. Great riffs, memorable choruses and some excellent guitar work. Hardly earth shattering but head and shoulders above so much of the metal scene out there these days. To me anyway. =)
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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia
    Bayley is like Paul DiAnno 2.0, particularly with the shaven look. This style of metal has really seen better days. I just don't resonate with it anymore.
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    Funny thing. I'd already forgotten about this album even though it was only about 3 weeks ago that we were joking and laughing about how crap it was. The guy's as bad as Iron Maiden in making an album that's indistinguishable from the one that came before - and before and before and before. It's like the 20 or so years he's been releasing solo albums hasn't happened. It's 2002 until the day he kicks the bucket.
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    The comments about this album being stuck in the past are very interesting given the genres of music we celebrate most on here! ;) =)
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    edited April 29
    I gotta disagree with you there, darkblue. It's exactly because I've discovered interesting new age Metal albums over the past few years that I feel able to say this Blaze album is tired old balls. For example my favourite Metal album from last year was by a Kenyan duo called Duma. It's an album that has to be heard to be believed. An unholy mashup of Death Metal, Black Metal, Industrial, Trance, Ambient, the album is plenty evidence that Metal is still finding ways to evolve in a unique fashion in 2021. I'd take it over Blaze's entire solo output of retro Power Metal any day of the week. Why? Because I always know what I'm gonna get with Blaze, just the same, same old. I mean, you can swap his latest album title onto an album from 10 years ago and you wouldn't know the difference. But try doing that for a band like The Who, say Quadrophenia for Tommy. You're gonna know straightaway that it's a stuff up. Anyway, I've gone on long enough. I'm now gonna go listen to The Scorpions 'Lovedrive' LP from 1979. Woo.
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    All good points Smokey and I see exactly where you're coming from. However, what is Blaze to do? Simply hang it up and go home?

    It's the age old damned if you do, damned if you don't. If he came out with a Death/Black/Industrial/Trance/Ambient album, not only would the critics hang draw and quarter him, but his fanbase would simply walk away. How many veteran metal acts completely reinvent themselves - successfully - after 35 years in the business - and especially any operating in the fringes that Blaze does?

    Comparing him (or anyone) to The Who is hardly a fair comparison. The likes of AC/DC were lauded for their latest album and it held zero surprises, even if it was an OK album. Most bands who try to evolve like The Who did long ago are derided for it and end up returning back to their roots with their tails between their legs. And we've got the take into account that The Who were trailblazers before so many people had spliced rock and metal into a million sub-genres.

    Anyway, I'm carrying on like I think War Within Me is some sort of classic, which it clearly isn't. It's a solid, safe album from a veteran playing to his (admittedly) small audience and doing so pretty well. I enjoy it for what it is and still enjoy that style of metal when I'm not looking to be challenged all that much. I don't think what Blaze is doing is any worse than countless bands out there who don't get half the stick he does.

    And you said you had gone on too long! Sorry!!

    Interesting discussion mate :)
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    First off, I just wanna say I've got nothing against Blaze on a personal level. I've read plenty of his interviews over the years and he's always come across as a straight up, level headed dude. He's a proper West Midlands bloke, sound as. I think what's always disappointed me about his solo stuff is just how far removed it is from his rough n ready, street rocker days with Wolfsbane. I just never took Blaze for a Power Metal type of guy, which to me has always come across as Metal for nerds. There's just something about that style of music that turns me off, namely the lack of depth to it, no oomph in the riffage stakes. To my ears it just sorta glides on by, all potatoes and no meat. I've just always thought Blaze had more in his tank than playing it safe like that. The guy's got charisma, humour and aggression by the bucketload, it seems a shame to waste it all by playing by the book Power Metal.

    I've gotta go out now so I'll have to discuss your other points later on. Take it easy.
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    I have to reiterate what Smokey said about Blaze. I definitely have no issue with the guy, salt of the earth kind of dude who’s done it the hard way and still hanging in there. But the points were made similar to what I’ve said in my reviews about him over the years. It seemed like he lost his identity when he joined Maiden and he lost the charm of his earlier days. He should have been pursuing Rose Tattoo type boogie instead of the power metal vortex the got stuck in. As was said above, that kind of metal is one of the more tepid, along with black metal. Maybe that’s just Blaze’s mindset, but it would be great to see him go all out with some street metal anthems before it’s too late.
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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia
    Blaze doing US styled boogie. Now there's a plan. Just roughen up the tonsils with some Jack Daniels, then go and camp out in Georgia and Alabama for a couple of weeks for inspiration. ✅
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    I certainly don't take any of the comments to be personally against Blaze, I'd say this discussion has been carried out in good spirit.

    For me, you have to take into account his career trajectory. Blaze was filling shelves in a supermarket at night not that long ago. Teaming up with the guys from Absolva (who are writing this stuff) gave him some sort of focus and momentum again and in Europe, where this style still makes a mark, he's at least relevant again, which he isn't really anymore in the UK or USA. And any reunion with Wolfsbane has been pretty much ignored.

    I don't really expect him to throw that away and while you guys think what he is doing is rubbish, that's more down to you not actually liking the style of music he's making, rather than whether he's any good at it or not and the point is I suppose, he's not really trying to appeal to any other audience than the one he has right now. Reviews for the album (with the odd exception, obviously ;-) ) have really been quite positive, so people who do like this style still rate what he's doing.

    I sold one of his live DVDs a few weeks back and got WAY more bids for it than nearly any other item I've put up for sale for a long time. The fans he has have given him the chance to extend his musical career and not that long ago that looked unlikely. Who'd really take any notice if he did something different now? That shipped sailed long ago, maybe when he released some turgid acoustic stuff with tea Dutch guitarist?

    I think the point that he lost his identity after Maiden is a really valid one though. But then, that was the price for taking a shot at the big time. He couldn't say no but it definitely didn't work out.
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    edited April 30
    Yeah, I definitely agree that his time in Maiden seemed to affect him a hell of a lot. I remember when I found out he was going to be their new frontman. Man, I couldn't believe they'd taken a punt on such a livewire character. The guy could bring the heat and then some, especially in a live setting where his energy was off the charts. So I was really buzzing in anticipation of a new record from Maiden. I honestly believed that he was just the type of balls to the wall rocker who could inject some much needed 90s street metal grit to the bands increasingly turgid and outdated sound and image. But, as life would have it, things didn't turn out that way. I know Blaze was in a motorcycle accident round about the time he joined Maiden, and suffered serious injuries as a result. The consequences of that, the mental and physical pain, coupled with the pressure of fronting arguably the most famous Metal band ever, must have been immense. And the pressures seemed to show when the X Factor was finally released in 95. I didn't recognise the guy who just a year before had kicked ass on Wolfbane's final album. Where had the mad man gone - his energy, his fire? The X Factor was so flat, so ham, so stale, that I couldn't believe Blaze had dumped the modern vibe of Wolfsbane for such geriatric sounding Heavy Metal. Even now, 26 years later, I still can't get my head around it. If I had to guess, though, I'd say the blame lies with Steve Harris. He's the main man, what he says goes in regards to sound and image. You just need to listen to Bruce Dickinson's Skunkworks album from 96 to realise that fact. The guy sounds totally liberated and invigorated by the sonic developments in 90s Metal in comparison to his flatness on Maiden's Fear Of The Dark album from 92. Anyway, things didn't get any better for Blaze, what with Virtual X1 being another outdated sounding dud. And when he was finally dumped by Maiden, well, I thought, here we go, a return now to dirty rocker Blaze laying it down raw and hard. But that never happened, man. It was head dive into the Power Metal arena. I actually enjoyed his first couple of solo albums, listened to them all the time - in fact, I still do. Like what I said about Dickinson, it was refreshing to hear him freed from the chains of Harris. But I didn't think he'd stick to that style of Metal for decades, I was always certain that at some point he'd see sense and come back home to the grittier side of Metal. Oh well, so it goes. I'll tell you this, though. If I ever win millions on Euro Lotto I'm gonna go see Blaze down his local and ask if he would be interested in recording a rough n ready, British Heavy Metal album. Cos, right or wrong, it's a feeling I just can't shake, even though he's pushing 60 bloody years old. Have a good one.
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    What a great post! I agree with EVERY word of that.

    Blaze is OK on his two Maiden albums but the material he was given was just so substandard, but then that had been coming from the two Maiden albums before that too. Live he seemed shackled and lost and the magic was gone from him and Maiden. Still, I'll take both of Blaze's albums with them over everything that followed other than Brave New World, which was superb.

    Interestingly, seeing Blaze live over more recent years both solo and with Wolfsbane, he's still a completely different proposition with the latter and seems to have MUCH more fun with them.

    I used to be on good terms with his PR people around the Blaze Bayley Band era and it would be fair to suggest that the vibe that was given was that he tended not to do things the easy way or listen to much advice and that too maybe has shaped what's come since? Who knows?

    Maybe my perennial love of the underdog means I just can't give up on the guy?
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    edited May 1
    Blaze could always release a tired covers albums of working class rock and metal anthems to spice it up. I recommend the following:

    Rough and Ready (Saxon)
    One of the Boys (Rose Tattoo)
    Sweet Dixie (Molly Hatchet)
    Sometimes a Fantasy (Billy Joel)
    Playing to Win (Little River Band)
    Too Hard to Handle (Blackfoot)
    Sexdrive (Rolling Stones)
    Get it Right (Joe Fagin)
    Black Eyed Bruiser (Stevie Wright)
    Guns for Hire (AC/DC)
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    edited May 1
    Talking about Bruce Dickinson's return to Maiden in 2000. I've never understood why he did it, not when he made 4 great metal albums with Roy Z in the latter 90s. He really hit the mark with those albums, they sounded great and the songwriting was all killer no filler. Basically he did what I thought Maiden should've done: took the early 80s years and refined, updated the sound to fit with the changing times. He got the balance of Prog and Metal just right, cut out the boring and meandering solo passages that added nothing to a song. Like my excitement when Blaze joined Maiden, I felt the same thing when Dickinson returned to the fold. I was primed for a streamlined and updated Maiden. But, as with Blaze on the X Factor, the magic didn't happen. Brave New World was released and it was headlong into convoluted Prog Metal territory more than ever. I just didn't get it, man. Didn't get why Bruce had abandoned his modern approach to Metal for a return to the crap that had been the reason he'd left in the first place. Was it money? Had his solo adventures broken the bank? It's a theory I can well believe. I can also believe that Harris knew Maiden were on the skids with Blaze at the helm, and that a reunion with Dickinson was just the ticket out of the doldrums and back into the spotlight. So, was it a marriage of convenience between the two parties? The band certainly hit some heights upon Dickinson's return, making acclaimed albums and selling out stadiums just like the golden years of the 80s. But for me, man. What a bloody disappointment it all turned out to be. Solo Bruce had no impact at all on the songwriting and production, the band just carried on in their own little world, totally oblivious to the developments in modern Metal. I think they might be the only classic Metal band who never updated their sound for the times. Hell, even Saxon got with the programme in the late 90s. And Biff was bloody pushing 50 at the time, an age when most dudes are well and truly content to just roll with the same old. But the real funny thing is, Blaze leaves Maiden to go solo and records a kick arse Metal album. He went and did what Dickinson had done when he went solo. Bloody Maiden are the Spurs of the Metal world for frontman, or so it would seem. You sign up, a shithot vocalist, and end up a stiff just going through the motions as your tongue struggles to wrap itself around wordy lyrics that just go on and on and on.

    I can well believe, darkblue, that Blaze is a feisty old dude. I've lived in Birmingham for 10 years and see evidence of that characteristic every single day. They're a tough breed round here, it's no surprise to me that these parts are where Heavy Metal originated. It fits the attitude to a tee.
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    Huge world tours. Flying jumbo jets. And the financial freedom to basically do what you want for the rest of your life.

    Hmmmmm...... I can't see why Bruce came back either! ;)

    I think sometimes we (and me) forget it really is a job and not just a labour of love - at least for some of them anyway.
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    They ain't call it show business for nothing. I guess that's why an old time rocker such as David Coverdale still pops his long haired wig and leather pants on every morning. The image is part of the brand, even at 70 years old. The fans want the glitz and glamour to match the music, not some wrinkled old fart with a Bobby Charlton combover in red cords and spectacles showing up on stage with a sheet of song lyrics in his hand cos his brain's doddery as hell.
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    george_the_jackgeorge_the_jack No man's land
    Blaze along with Appleton brothers and the McNee/ Schramm rhythm section are pretty much one of the tightest combos in metal you will find these days out there. I suggest you go and see them with no questions asked if they happen to play your town. You won't be disappointed.
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    edited May 4
    Classic Wolsfbane footage from 92. This is exactly the image I have in my mind when I think of Blaze, a rough and tough punk metaller who could tear it up like no one's business.

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    It’s really refreshing to read an interesting discussion and see different points raised, without any abuse being slung. I pop onto MR Noticeboard and it is full of toxic comments from certain individuals that has turned that board into the most unpleasant, toxic environment out there. It’s for that reason I only contribute to GD discussions.
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    At this stage of my life I cannot fathom getting so passionate about music that it turns into a full scale argument. Grown men arguing about what the greatest AOR album of all time is? That would be a severe mental illness in my eyes.
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    This too is the only music forum I use these days and discussions like the one above are the reason that that's so. I really enjoy a bit of back and forth about music. We can't agree on it all and it would be boring if we did but reading other people's opinions is always good fun and like the comments from everyone above, really enlightening as well.

    @smokey That Wolfsbane video really does show what a missed opportunity that band become. Classic stuff!
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