Album Review: Blaze Bayley - Circle of Stone

Album Review: Blaze Bayley - Circle of Stone

Blaze Bayley; epic heavy metal singer, Metal Hall of Fame inductee, ex-Iron Maiden vocalist (1994-1999) featured on The X Factor and Virtual XI albums and successful solo artist in his own right has returned with 11th studio album Circle of Stone which is due for release on Friday February 23rd.

Blaze says about the album:

"Side one comprises six unconnected songs that describe human frailty, resilience, courage, and gratitude. Can you look to yourself for answers? Can you fight against all the odds to take your future in your own hand, or do you accept the fate that other people tell you is what you deserve? Believe in yourself. You can survive the knocks, defeats and disappointments of your life and come back stronger. That is the hope we hold in our first six songs.”

“Side two contains six connected songs that tell the story of our forgotten tribe; a search for the truth in the heart of the circle of tall stones. Seeking the mystical portal, whilst the ancestors call to you in dreams, you have denied them. They demand vengeance and reckoning but you are a selfish, materialistic coward, and you have avoided the true path of your future. You must find a way to become selfless and courageous to lead our tribe back to the homeland of our ancestors. This is the journey described by the six songs of side two.“

The recording of the new album was completed in March 2023 just two days before Blaze suffered a heart attack, needing life-saving bypass surgery. The album was held in abeyance whilst Blaze recovered. As well as his regular team from British melodic metal band Absolva (Chris Appleton on lead guitar, Luke Appleton on power guitar, Martin McNee on drums, Karl Schramm on bass), Blaze called upon an eclectic mix of collaborators. Niklas Stalvind (from Swedish metal band Wolf) guest vocals on ‘Circle of Stone’, ‘Call of the Ancestors’ and ‘A Day of Reckoning’ Talented singer Tammy-Rae Bois, from South Wales (UK), who duets with Blaze on ‘Until We Meet Again.’ Gifted Dutch violinist Anne Bakker who plays on ‘Rage’ and ‘Until We Meet Again’ Last but not least Vicky Kennerley, from the West Midlands (UK), adds the spectacular & unmistakable bagpipes featured on ‘Call of the Ancestors

The record opens with 'Mind Reader' which just explodes straight away with a heavy, groove-laden guitar solo and rampant energy. The track has a rousing nature and a theme of strength and resilience; Blaze's vocals are both soft and powerful as they project themselves across flurries of addictive riffs and thunderous, rhythmical drumming. 'Tears In Rain' follows in the same vein with a blistering guitar solo, a mid-tempo groove stomp and heavy basslines. 'Rage' tells the story from Welsh folklore of Gelert the faithful hound & his unfortunate demise at the hands of his beloved owner Prince Llewelyn. A dramatic, emotive and anguished depiction of the sorrowful tale. Blistering drums, intricate, chugging riffs, mournful vocals and haunting violin really make this a stand-out moment on the record.

'The Year Beyond This Year' has a lighter mood and a galloping pace compared to its predecessor with lyrical themes of personal growth and determination. Flurries of duel guitar riffs and furious drums support soaring, lightning speed solos and commanding vocals of hope. 'Ghost In The Bottle' is full of crushing attitude and that doesn't waste any time in displaying the band's expert ability in bringing a modern approach to that classic heavy metal sound. 'The Broken Man' slows the pace to an incredibly emotive ballad which is a powerful tribute to Blaze's fans; his vocals shine at the forefront here as he pierces your soul. The guitar solo in this track rises from the void and soars to astronomical levels.

'The Call of the Ancestors' begins the conceptual side of the record. Opening with haunting vocalisations and eerie, heartfelt bagpipes calling out to the beyond from the shadows of the mountains. The call is answered by the electric guitar as the two unite as one. 'Circle of Stone' features Blaze's lone, booming vocals before flurries of riffs and heavy rhythmical drumming carries him forth. Guest vocals from Niklas Stalvind of the Swedish metal band Wolf are featured here as the voice of the ancestors that Blaze is calling out to. Duel guitars cascade off each other, building to another intricate solo. 'Absence' showcases heavy, groovy basslines and crooning, smooth vocals on a backdrop of frantic shredding.

'A Day of Reckoning' is somber and melancholy in nature with haunting acoustics and Blaze's vocals echoing in the dark before the thunderous cacophony of the band burst in to life. 'The Path of the Righteous Man' is a straight up homage to all things classic heavy metal. Chant-worthy choruses, addictive guitar melodies and crashing, charging drums. The album closer takes another melancholic turn with 'Until We Meet Again.' Featuring guest vocals from Tammy-Rae Bois, the track is full of emotive acoustics, gorgeous violins and piano, slowly fading away.

Circle of Stone is another solid example of Blaze's remarkable ability to produce straight up, high quality heavy metal. 11 solo studio albums down the line and his talents have never faltered.  

Rating: 8/10
Release Date: February 23rd 2024
Released By: Blaze Bayley Recording
FFO: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio, Saxon


01 - Mind Reader
02 - Tears In Rain
03 - Rage
04 - The Year Beyond This Year
05 - Ghost In The Bottle
06 - The Broken Man          
07 - The Call Of The  Ancestors    
08 - Circle Of Stone
09 - Absence
10 - A Day Of Reckoning
11 - The Path Of The Righteous Man
12 - Until We Meet Again

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