Blaze Bayley On Iron Maiden’s Strategy After Bruce Dickinson’s Departure

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Former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley recently joined VW Music for an interview and revealed how the band tried to survive after Bruce Dickinson left by developing a darker sound.

After the Fear Of The Dark tour in 1992, Bruce Dickinson decided to leave Iron Maiden over creative differences. However, the singer was committed to a tour with the band in 1993, so he continued longer than he wanted. His bandmates criticized the musician due to his lack of willingness during their final times. Following Dickinson’s departure, Maiden began looking for his replacement.

After dozens of auditions, they chose Blaze Bayley as the new frontman. Bayley left Wolfsbane to join Maiden, which caused Wolfsbane to disband. During his tenure with the band, Bayley recorded the vocals for the 1995’s ‘The X Factor’ album and the 1998 album ‘Virtual XI.’

Although Iron Maiden hoped these albums would be successful, their chart rankings weren’t well enough. ‘The X Factor’ album peaked at number 8 on the UK Albums chart while ‘Virtual XI’ reached only number 18, making them the lowest-charting albums since 1981’s ‘Killers.’ In 1999, Bayley left when he heard Dickinson’s return.

In a recent interview with VW Music, Blaze Bayley looked back on his tenure with Iron Maiden. He stated that Maiden was fighting during his tenure with ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Virtual XI’ because journalists said Maiden was over. However, they refused to give up after Dickinson’s departure and changed their direction to a progressive and dark sound.

In the interview, Blaze Bayley told VW Music the following:

“For me, what’s great is that Maiden is all about passion and doing everything a hundred percent. Committing a hundred percent. Those albums that I was on, Maiden were fighting because, in the UK, the journalists said, ‘Maiden is over.’ And they refused to die; they refused to give up.

CD sales were going down worldwide; people were losing faith in heavy metal because the grunge era was still very strong. So, Maiden was fightin’ to stay Iron Maiden, and many people were saying we wouldn’t get through. So, for me, those albums are a turning point. That’s when Maiden started on the more progressive and darker music. Now you see that, as well; they’ve carried on in that direction.”

He then continued:

“So, my era, the Blaze Bayley era of Maiden, shows that change of direction to something more progressive, dark, and unapologetic. It’s different. What’s nice is that some people say the new Maiden album reminds them a little bit of ‘X-Factor,’ and they go back to ‘X-Factor’ and ‘Virtual XI.’

Maybe they didn’t give it so much attention at the time because they never wanted Bruce to leave. Then they listen to it and get something new out of it. And they start to go, ‘Ah, now I get the point why it’s so dark.’ So, that’s a really good feeling as well.”

So, Blaze Bayley thinks that the shift towards a darker, progressive, and unapologetic sound results from Iron Maiden’s fighting to stay together and alive following Dickinson’s departure, who has been an important figure in the band’s career.