It’s aleady well proven fact that Thomas Zwijsen can make serious magic when he gets into his thing in all the right ways. Toss Blaze Bayley into that mix and things can turn great into awesome, as was evident on the first Infinite Entanglement (2016) installment, with modern classic What Will Come. Since, they’ve continued collaboration on several occasions, mainly in live performances and on some of Zwijsen’s solo cover albums. They did a collab in Russian Holiday (2013), but in comparison, this one takes several huge steps up. More often than not, they turn some of Bayley’s Maiden classics into acoustic pieces that mirror the emotive depth of the originals while taking a new twist and still sounding perfectly natural to their original selves, thanks to Bayley’s vocals.
As winter sets in, the two release the collaboration EP December Wind, of eight modest tracks, seven of which are newly written, and the remaining a Maiden cover. The style is simple; Zwijsen’s single acoustic guitar, his flamenco playing that oftentimes makes it sound like several guitars at once, and Bayley adding his touch on top. Together they do the acoustic ventures that have taken a twist to the balls of Bayley’s main band’s metallic course. There was no such track on the final Infinite Entanglement installment, The Redemption of William Black (2018) released earlier this year, however, but We Fell From The Sky from here adds that missing piece. It’s one of the highlights, in large thanks to the extra dimension added by Anne Bakker’s violin, and of course Bayley’s chorus which is catchy and heartbreakingly emotive in equal measure. The final track, The Love of Your Life is the only one that sticks out. It doesn’t really fit in, just feels misplaced and odd in the otherwise really emotive surroundings.
All the tracks here are neat performances. Nothing your average metal fan will write home about, but definitely something fans of classic guitar will like. And fans of Bayley, given his emotive input. Bayley is one of metal’s finest vocalists, and with Zwijsen he’s proved that he can also do the ballads complete justice. His input is simple, not trying to take place and not overdone as they might have been in his earlier days; he has mellowed and matured something colossal with age and experience, and it does his voice a world of good. All in all, this EP sees the best of Zwijsen, and the most heartfelt of Bayley - and not in a bunch of cover songs, but original compositions. I won’t be blasting this on eleven until kingdom come, but it takes all the right turns that What Will Come did right, and as such I might just start to like it.
Standout tracks: Miracle on the Hudson, December Wind, We Fell From the Sky