BLAZE BAYLEY – December Wind [CD version +5] (2018)
“December Wind” is the new BLAZE BAYLEY solo album to be released tomorrow. The ex singer with Iron Maiden (1994-1999) presents his 11th studio record with songs acoustically based, performed and arranged alongside virtuoso classical guitarist Thomas Zwijsen.
This is the complete physical CD, including 5 bonus tracks.
Consisting of thirteen songs, “December Wind” run a gamut of emotions. Backing Blaze are classical acoustic guitarist Thomas Zwijsen and on few tracks, violinist Anne Bakker.
The album kicks off strongly with ‘Eye Of The Storm’ as its call to arms lyrics are backed by ‘Pinball Wizard’ like chords. Choruses rich in harmony arrive early with Blaze’s chest beating vocal delivery featuring some mighty “Woah oh oh’s”.
The guitar intro chords tugged at the heart strings gently through my headphones during ‘Love Will Conquer All’ as they muscled up midway to vie with an astounding vocal to match the depth of the subject matter as it ends on a fragile whisper.
I never heard Blaze singing with such confidence.
‘2AM’, the first of two numbers from his period with Iron Maiden features soul searching lyrics we can all relate to and is still a powerful song without any bombast behind it. It’s great to listening this song in this intimate way.
‘Miracle On The Hudson’ rushes along with a breathless vocal that captures the urgency of the chain of events leading up to and after a miraculous escape for one hundred and fifty five passengers on a plane that was forced to land on the river of the same name. The lyrics and guitar lines of the title track grip together like a firm handshake to draw you in for a thrilling rollercoaster ride of emotions.
Swirling violin pieces during ‘We Fell From The Sky’ fight for attention in this uptempo race to the finish line stormer. ‘The Crimson Tide’ is a full blooded charge into battle hymn as a curveball is thrown by ‘The Love Of Your Life’, a feel good catchy number that lifts the spirits up.
Blazes performance in ‘Stealing Time’ will have you on the edge of your seat as he belts it out with sheer conviction. The poignant first half of ‘Russian Holiday’ gives way to a strange kind of flamenco groove to finish on.
‘Soundtrack Of My Life’ is another highlight here, mainly due to the very deep lyrics. Guitar lines flow like a babbling brook and heavy up in the epic choruses.
‘One More Stop’ is a short, sharp fist clenching hope for the future and the album finishes on a high with ‘Sign Of The Cross’, the second Iron Maiden track here stripped down to its bare bones for an epic ten minutes as the heavy metal delivery is replaced by an energetic jig which captivates throughout. The lengthy acoustic guitar/violin piece midway is enthralling to say the least.
Blaze Bayley surprised me with “December Wind”. He’s no stranger to the acoustic format. A well-established partnership with classical guitarist Thomas Zwijsen has resulted in numerous reinterpretations of the singer’s extensive catalog in and out of Iron Maiden, as well as the occasional ballad on his most recent solo outings.
But hearing a full album in this format lets you to discover other side of the metal vocalist. And a darn fine one.
The results are excellent. The songs all keep to a three to four-minute average and the presentation rarely moves beyond vocals, guitars, and Anne Bakker’s occasional violin, but the songs themselves are surprisingly varied, and flow wonderfully for almost an hour.
In my humble opinion, “December Wind” is the best album Blaze Bayley has released to date, highlighting his sincerity – and skills – as a performer. With so many veteran musicians trying for the “unplugged” format, it’s refreshing to see Blaze and Zwijsen do more than bank on familiarity.
01 – Eye of the Storm
02 – Love Will Conquer All
03 – 2AM
04 – Miracle on the Hudson
05 – December Wind
06 – We Fell from the Sky
07 – The Crimson Tide
08 – The Love of Your Life
09 – Stealing Time
10 – Russian Holiday
11 – Soundtrack Of My Life
12 – One More Step
13 – Sign Of The Cross
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Thomas Zwijsen – guitars
Anne Bakker – violin