BLAZE BAILEY – December Wind
The marvelous vocalist that is Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane) needs no introduction and neither does his impressive back catalogue. For some bizarre reason, he is still way too underrated even though he works harder than most and constantly tours and releases albums and what have you. On "December Wind", Blaze has teamed up with the talented Anne Bakker (violin) and Thomas Zwijsen (classical acoustic guitar), and the result is moving and rich in atmosphere. There is always a melancholy undertone to Bayley’s works and "December Wind" is (fortunately) no different with respect to that.
It is always a treat to listen to Bayley’s dark, passionate and baritone-like voice. It carries so much emotional weight and he is giving it his all on "December Wind". The musicianship is certainly praiseworthy and the entire affair comes across as inspired and inspiring. It is not the most varied or dynamic of efforts that you will come across this year, but it serves as the perfect soundtrack to these gloomy autumn months that are upon us now. The highlights are undoubtedly the riveting rendition of the Iron Maiden gem that is "2 AM", the heartfelt title track, and the delightfully intense "Miracle on the Hudson". "We Fell From the Sky" and "The Love of Your Life" are not bad as such, but they are probably the least memorable ones to be found on this record.
Halfway through things do tend to become slightly monotonous and one-dimensional in places. Not that there are any decidedly weak cuts as such, but due to the style and nature of the music one could argue that six or seven acoustic songs would have sufficed. To be perfectly honest with you, I rarely listen to all thirteen tracks in a row.Then again, the last five tunes on the album are bonus tracks lifted from the "Russian Holiday" EP, so we are essentially talking about two different albeit stylistically similar releases on one disc here, but that does not change the fact that listening to thirteen acoustic pieces like these gets a bit same-y towards the end. Still, "December Wind" is a great release and the fact that the aforementioned "Russian Holiday" output is included is all the reason you need to invest in this cool piece of music as soon as it hits the streets. If anything, it is a most interesting addition to the captivating Blaze Bayley discography.