The journey has been interesting, to say the least, as we have followed Blaze Bayley and his William Black on their journey through the solar winds and into legend. The Redemption Of William Black is the third and final installment in the Infinite Entanglement trilogy, begun with Infinite Entanglement (2016) and continued with Endure And Survive (2017). The middle part was darker, a little slower and more ominous, going out on a note of impending betrayal and murder. Conversely, this concluding part is light and airy, to showcase Black’s final realization that he can stand, strike back and survive - allegorical of course to Bayley himself, who has always been open with the many hardships and his depressions through his previous music. The trilogy has been made with heavy metal outfit Absolva as his backing band, with guitarist Chris Appleton helping greatly in both direction and songwriting.
The album holds some very short tracks, with two not reaching three minutes, and another two just above. These short melodic tracks feel longer than they are, to the credit of the stellar songwriting; simple and efficient, no part overstaying its due and utterly devoid of filler material (of which there was some on the second album). It’s Maiden-esque, obviously with lots of Absolva and their modern take on traditional metal in it; airy, approachable and confident in equal measure. Appleton’s beautiful guitars litter the album to great effect, as he strews simple and catchy melodies and glowing, stylistic riffs to bridge the journey from darkness and back into light. And if the album starts out on a high note with some truly remarkable tracks, that’s still nothing compared to the album’s second half. Starting with the soaring Prayers Of Light that hearkens back to the most uplifting tracks of the first two parts, the album takes a massive turn upwards, with great melodic antics and a Blaze Bayley as high on life and independence as ever.
The Redemption Of William Black hosts no outright ballad, but several songs that start out slow and easy, growing into melodically rhythmic punchers. Human Eyes, Life Goes On and obviously closing track Eagle Spirit, trilling the soft and growing into heavy, melodics soaring in the solar wind. Both of the previous parts had acoustic ballads featuring Bayley’s friend and former band-mate Thomas Zwijsen and his distinct flamenco style (What Will Come will stand as the trilogy’s outright masterpiece), and though he is absent, the album fares well without a ballad; the flow is superb, and with every song neatly growing into the next to continue the story the album feels shorter than it is (clocking in at exactly 47 minutes), yet no moment of it needs be drawn out; perhaps not perfect, but everything on here is exactly as it should be.
It cannot be overstated how this album is infused with hope and optimism, thanks to the perfect melodic touch delivered by Appleton’s leads. Even with the song title The Dark Side Of Black you think you’re going to be treated to something dark and moody near the finale, but nope; another stellar track that brings about hints of the first in the trilogy, while still feeling fresh and new, as with the rest of the material on here. Bayley himself delivers with confidence in himself and his voice, not faltering for a moment as he brings the thunder in opening track Redeemer, emotive depth in Human Eyes and the ultimate defiance in epic closer Eagle Spirit. Stronger than ever, he has come a long way from the darkness of Maiden’s The X Factor (1995); here is the place he belongs. Now, the first album in the trilogy remains unbeaten, but The Redemption Of William Black is not far behind. A feel good album to say the least, and a perfect closing of the trilogy, which in its entirety will likely be remembered as Bayley’s defining moment, his magnum opus.
Standout tracks: Prayers Of Light, 18 Days, The Dark Side Of Black, Eagle Spirit