With a solo career that is now going over two decades strong, Blaze Bayley shows no signs of slowing down with his tenth full-length album. While War Within Me (Blaze Bayley Records) is an inevitable step back from the Infinite Entanglement trilogy that he released through the late 2010s, this has more to do with the sense of scale than any sort of quality concerns. If anything, the album is essentially a fun look back on everything that Blaze has accomplished thus far.
The production and musicianship immediately make War Within Me feel like a throwback to Blaze’s early solo efforts. The vocals, in particular, recall 2000’s Silicon Messiah, sitting at a balanced position in the mix with a slightly digitized effect that reinforces a Sci-Fi aesthetic. The other musicians also offer the tried-and-true mix of upbeat rhythms and Classic Metal guitar work, even occasionally dipping into the more Thrash tinges that colored 2008’s The Man Who Would Not Die and 2010’s Promise And Terror. It doesn’t quite have the touch that Andy Sneap brought to the early effects but feels like an improvement from the last couple albums’ more ambitious though somewhat disjointed mixes.
This may also be the most upbeat and straightforward album that Blaze has ever released. With the balladry only showing up for the closing ‘Every Storm Ends,’ War Within Me’s songwriting is based almost exclusively around Classic Metal anthems and hardened determination. The opening title track and ‘303’ make for immediate statements of intent with aggressive flurries of guitars that give flight to a series of uplifting hooks. From there, ‘Warrior’ puts in a more dynamic introduction while ‘Witches Night’ and ’18 Flights’ offer some extra emotion behind their soaring choruses. The trilogy of songs detailing the accomplishments of famous scientists is also neat to see with ‘The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking’ standing out the most.
Despite lacking the high concepts of his strongest solo efforts, War Within Me sees Blaze Bayley continuing to shine as Heavy Metal’s premier underdog. A balanced production job works greatly in the album’s favor, the songwriting is compact without getting too pedestrian, and the vocals are some of the most powerful that Blaze has delivered to date. A similar formula was attempted on 2012’s The King Of Metal and it’s a relief to see that album’s follies not be repeated here. At the very least, this is a very enjoyable sampler.
Buy the album here: https://shop.season-of-mist.com/blaze-bayley-war-within-me-cd