In a new interview with Tony Webster of The Metal Command, British heavy metal vocalist Blaze Bayley, who fronted IRON MAIDEN more than 20 years ago, spoke about some fans’ initial reluctance to embrace his era of the band. When Webster noted that Blaze’s solo work over the last two decades has gone a long way toward “changing the narrative” of his time with MAIDEN, Bayley said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Yeah, I think you’re right, Tony. I’m hearing this a lot. People look back and they go… Some fans go, ‘Of course I’ve got every IRON MAIDEN album, but the ones I haven’t listened to are [Blaze-era albums] ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Virtual XI’. And now that’s all I can listen to that I haven’t listened to a hundred times. I have to listen to those. And it’s exactly what you say to me.

‘The X Factor’‘s got some incredible music on it, but the sound of it is so dark, and the way it was produced, it’s not accessible like some of the other MAIDEN albums,” Blaze explained. “You’ve gotta live with that for quite a few spins until you’re tuned into what things are doing. Then you can get to the music. I think that was maybe a problem with it at the time. It’s so dark and the sounds of things were quite different to what came before. People who did live with it, managed to find it. And it’s different cultures as well, different countries. In Sweden and Spain, those albums, people loved them as much as every other [MAIDEN] album. But in other places, people didn’t. It’s a different thing.

“For me, I do now [shows celebrating] my 30th anniversary and that’s an anniversary of joining MAIDEN. It’s a great time for me. But what I take away most isn’t I play big stadiums or all of that around the world. What I take away most is, working with the guys in [MAIDEN], writing songs with the guys and what I learned from their experience — they were so generous — and I found, working in the studio and writing, another part of my voice I didn’t even know I had. So, now I’m able to express the lyric and the melody and get the emotion and the passion and the specific feelings from that lyric, from that song. I’m able to get my voice and use my voice in a way I could never do before. And that’s because of everything I learned in IRON MAIDEN. And even though I’ve been in a wasteland, and I’ve been underground for a long, long time, I’ve kept singing and my voice has developed. And now I think my voice is the best it’s ever been. I have more control over my voice. I’m able to do more things that help me tell my listener a story than I’ve ever done before. And that goes back to those five years. That’s all it was out of my career of 40 years — five years with IRON MAIDEN, and I learned so much that I’ve gradually been able to build up. And now with [my upcoming album] ‘Circle Of Stone’, I’m so proud. The things I’ve done on this, I haven’t been able to do before. And I’m so proud of it.”

The 60-year-old Bayley fronted IRON MAIDEN from 1994 until 1999. The two MAIDEN albums he appeared on, “The X Factor” and “Virtual XI”, sold considerably less than the band’s prior releases and were their lowest-charting titles in the group’s home country since 1981’s “Killers”.

Since leaving IRON MAIDEN in 1999, Bayley has released a number of albums, including several under the moniker BLAZE and more than a handful under his own name. He also appeared on 2012’s “Wolfsbane Saves The World”, the first album of new material by WOLFSBANE since the group’s self-titled 1994 effort, and a follow-up LP, 2022’s “Genius”.

Blaze‘s latest studio album, “War Within Me”, came out in April 2021. The LP was recorded during 2020 with work split between Blaze‘s studio at home in the West Midlands and Christopher Appleton‘s studio in Greater Manchester.

Nearly a year ago, Blaze underwent a quadruple bypass surgery following a heart attack.

Bayley will release his new solo album, the aforementioned “Circle Of Stone”, on February 23.

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