Blaze Bayley // Promise and Terror
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —55 minutes of kick ass and darkness mixed
Label: Blaze Bayley Recordings
Websites: blazebayley.net | myspace.com/blazebayley
Release Date: February 1st, 2010
I must say that, if you don’t already know this, I have been anticipating this record since I heard of its release. Sure, things have been busy around here, but I even managed to slip in a few listens to the record in spite of the heavy schedule of listening that I’m forced to adhere. Written and recorded in the aftermath of one of the most terrible tragedies in Blaze’s life, and really in the life of a neophyte band trying to break its way into the music scene on the strength of independent promotion and raw, hard work, and non-fashionable music, Promise and Terror has the chance to show the medal of this band and to testify to the absolute spine of one Blaze Bayley. While The Man Who Would Not Die was a record that was written in the face of the adversity from the outside world and sounded, frankly, like a big aural “fuck you” to all uninterested parties, Promise and Terror has a different role to fill.
Let’s think about the title and I think it really gives a sense of what one should be expecting from this record. Every new thing that one encounters in the world can contain both terrifying and promising things. A new lover contains both of these things: the promise of things to come, but the terror of losing someone. This sense of terror compels people to act completely irrationally sometimes in order to try to maintain a relationship that they’re, in essence, pushing away by acting crazy. As a musician you are also facing the same kind of thing a situation that is risky. Do you lose relationships with those you’re close to? Do you spend loads of money and push yourself into debt for nothing in the end? Or do you live the life you want to live. And, I think the ultimate example of this is freedom. In some ways being independent from the group is a scary process. There is no one telling you where your limits are. But then you don’t have limits. Such promise can frighten people.
In losing his label and going through everything that he’s been through, Blaze has certainly experienced both the promise and the terror that are embodied in this well-written, well-produced and perfectly executed example of modern power metal. Promise and Terror is uncompromisingly heavy, pushing its way into melodic death metal territory if there wasn’t an English baritone singing over top of it. The riffs are melodic as hell, but definitely catchy and the guitar work is textured and very cool. The fast is dynamically offset by slow parts (and even a slow song, which is one of the strongest tracks on the album “Surrounded by Sadness”) which work functionally to remind you of the darkness and sadness contained within.
The production on this record is definitely a step up from the band’s previous effort, to my great pleasure, and the drums sound great (Hey Larry, damn straight triggers are for pansies! Well played!). The whole thing is thick as hell with great performances from everyone involved. Though, I must say that, oddly enough some of the only questionable performances are caused by Blaze himself seeming a bit lost on the melodic side with a few of the riffs (see the chorus in “1633”, an awesome song.. but Blaze just sounds kinda off). This, however, is few and far between. And while his voice isn’t as powerfully produced as it was when Andy Sneap was producing it, he does still sound very good.
Lyrically, Blaze borders on profundity throughout the whole album. Honestly, this guy may be at his best right now. Ironically, one of the complaints that his old band had about him, which resulted in some of the more questionable lyrical content from Blood & Belief, was that he wasn’t writing personal lyrics. This record shows that he certainly can write convincing, interesting lyrics which express his inner pain and the things that are going on for him. Sometimes these lyrical excursions almost seem at odds with the music, but for the most part the darkness of this record permeates everything culminating in probably one of the darkest tracks he has ever performed since he was on The X Factor, “Comfortable in Darkness”.
Honestly, I view this record as a triumph for The Little Band That Could. Hopefully more people will pick it up and get into it, because this is easily the best thing that Blaze Bayley has sung on since Tenth Dimension. It has all the balls of Silicon Messiah and all the darkness of The X Factor and all the honesty that was missing from Blood & Belief. Even if you’re not a Blaze fan, you should at least head on over to their MySpace and give the tracks a spin. You might just be impressed.