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You don't need to be an Iron Maiden obsessive to know that singer Blaze Bayley was strutting his stuff with Wolfsbane before joining Steve Harris' army - and that such a choice was much less based on Blaze's singing abilities than on his stage presence during a tour that Maiden and Wolfsbane made together in 1990. "Massive Noise Injection" was recorded in 1993 and it captures a very special moment for the band: not only it was a gig at the legendary Marquee Club of London (UK), but also the band were just voted the best unsigned act of the previous year - quite an encouragement for a band that, despite being regarded as a promising act, were just dropped by previous label Def American. "With this single moment we slice the cancer of indifference from our lives forever", celebrates the band at the booklet notes, and it is indeed the feeling that emanates from this record: a band that refuses to concede defeat, determined to go from strength to strength no matter what.
Wolfsbane always felt at home playing an upbeat, straight-to-the-point mix of British Metal with punk rock, glam and alternative rock 'n' roll, and "Massive Noise Injection" presents their collective talents in no uncertain terms. And if their studio input never really captured the band at their best, this live recording shows for all to hear what the fuss was all about. The CD is as live as it gets, really: the rough edges are audible, the production keeps everything simple and there's an avalanche of energy coming out of every song. Blaze Bayley himself deserves a mention, as I seriously think he is at his best here: his voice fails him in places, his range is far from impressive, but he sings all these sex-drugs-and-rock'n'roll lyrics with such an effort and such a passion that it turns out to be really funny and extremely catchy. His stage banter is also priceless: he spends a lot of time threatening the audience ("put your fists in the air or I'm coming out there and fucking kill you" and stuff like that), but in such an irresponsible, good-spirited way that it only adds to the electrifying atmosphere.
I dare to say every single song here is better than the studio versions, and tunes like "End of the Century", "Manhunt", "Black Lagoon", "Steel", "Loco", "Money to Burn", "Kathy Wilson" and so on (really, I could mention the entire tracklist if I wanted to) were surely crafted to drive an audience wild. Speaking of those in attendance that night, I reckon they may have been not that many, but they sure are totally into it, singing along with the choruses and basically having a whole lotta fun. I'm not even sure why Wolfsbane ever bothered to record studio offerings, as they were such a great live band that a live recording every couple years would be a much wiser move if you ask me.
It's unfortunate that Blaze's departure, right after the releasing of Wolfsbane's best studio album ("Wolfsbane", from 1994), signalled the end of the line for the band, as they were undoubtedly a very talented bunch. Things are now full circle though, as Blaze (now a solo artist, as you sure know) reunited with his partners in crime and Wolfsbane is back for more. Heartwarming, for me at least. If you know nothing about Wolfsbane, this is the CD you should invest your money in, as you will hardly find a better picture of what the group used to be before Maiden come their way. Not an all-time classic perhaps, but if you're playing this one very loud with the lights turned out and still doesn't feel like being there that night, well, you better seek medical help. Or else you can go fuck yourself, you fucking wanker (that's what Blaze would say, you know!).
Ask any seasoned metalhead (who isn't a hopelessly ignorant Bruce Dickinson fanboy) which of Blaze Bayley's albums is the best, and chances are 'Silicon Messiah', 'X Factor' and 'Tenth Dimension' will be mentioned. All good albums. To really understand why people are so devoted to this eternal underdog of metal, though, listen to 'Massive Noise Injection'. It's raw. It's loud. It's unpolished. It's littered with mistakes. Blaze's stage banter is anything but elegant. It's glorious.
Wolfsbane swept the radio singles and ballads to one side and focussed squarely on their loudest, most raucous material for this live album, giving it the rough and ready production that was missing from the studio albums (all of which sound painfully tame and civilised in comparison). Anthems like 'Steel', 'Manhunt' and 'Loco' sound a thousand times better when the band have got a drunken mob bellowing along to the choruses. The guitars shred, the drums pound and Blaze screams like a banshee; this album is so alive with energy that it makes you wonder why Wolfsbane even bothered with recording studios; if they'd just recorded it all live down the pub, their discography would be flawless!
I'm not going to go into detail regarding songs, as every one of them rocks like a bastard. One highlight I will mention is Blaze's - err - colourful stage banter. I've never heard a singer so gleefully willing to abuse his audience. "You with the short hair! Don't give a fuck who you are, fuck off!"; "You all look like you're waiting for the cat to come in for a piss or something"; "Stop wanking yourselves off and get your hands in the air!" It's all in good spirit, of course, and it certainly seems to do the job in getting the crowd going.
With a career full of serious albums about war, armageddon and self-loathing, it's nice to hear Blaze simply belting out fun songs about drinking, fucking, fighting and rocking. It's not subtle, but since when was subtlety one of hard rock's virtues? This is a bar room brawl with guitars, and if you don't love it, you can fucking fuck off, you wanker.
Well I'll be damned! Being a major fan of Blaze Bayley's solo career as well as his work with Maiden, I went back in time to check out Wolfsbane, starting with their sophomore effort "Down Fall the Good Guys", and while it was a rather fun mixture of Glam, Rock'n Roll, Punk and the odd shot of Metal here and there, it really didn't impress me a whole lot. A few fun catchy songs, some cool guitarworks, that was it.
A few months later, I got this album - and holy fuck, now I know what these guys were all about. Wolfsbane were an absolute live band, and if you doubt the words of their old fans who saw them back in their days, this album alone will convince you. This is easily the most live album I ever heard. Yep, that's right. Where huge legendary bands deliver albums with crowds of thousands, or tens of thousands, or even two fucking hundred thousand fans, this little band that never quite made it needed but an hour long gig in front of a few hundred people to deliver a disc that basically teleports you straight into their gig, right into the front row. Sure, this is far from a famous live album, it doesn't hold any legendary landmark songs of Metal, and there's live albums that beat it in the pure musical department - but when it comes to what live albums are all about, the live atmosphere, the screaming, the shouting, the interaction of band and fans, the urge to jump up and down, to go absolutely fucking mad and bang your fucking head, and bang it hard, then this largely overlooked album is, frankly, the absolute pinnacle in all music, ever ( I say music because it's besically semi-metal at most, with Wolfsbane's huge Rock'n Roll and Punkish influences always present).
Furthermore, Wolfsbane did everything right that they could for this album, and nothing whatsoever wrong. Every single song here sounds better than the studio album, and every single song sounds 100% live - both when you hear the fans, and in terms of playing - rough, heavy, often exaggerated and full of shredding. There's not a single bad song to be found on it, and a few real standouts - Steel, Black Lagoon, Paint the Town Red, Manhunt, The End of the Century and the closing cover of "Wild Thing" come to my mind as the most memorable tracks. Sure, no songs here are as good as, say, Exciter, or Hallowed Be Thy Name, or Hangar 18, but the band really got 200% out of every single songs on this disc.
Now, the music itself - well, most of this isn't really all that metal. There's a few exceptions like Steel and Manhunt, but generally, most of this music can be more or less descriubed as "Heavy Punk Rock'n Roll" - yeah, that's one fucking stupid genre name, but you get the idea. There's really nothing like it out there, so it's a pain in the ass trying to describe it. Boatloads of shredding, a great variety of riffing from the pounding, speedy, heavy as fuck "Steel" and "Protect and Survive" to the slow, grinding Load me Down. Songs like "Manhunt", "Steel" Boatloads of songs that were made to be played live - everything here is catchy as anything and makes for brilliant concert singalongs. Oh yeah, the solos are something completely out of this world, and one of the most metal elements in the music - crazy, speedy shredding with an impressive sense for sound and melody, once again I can't recall ever having heard anything quite like it. Another thing are the vocals. Blaze really doesn't sound that much like he would later on - a lot of shouty vocals, a lot of really fast singing, and even quite a few insane Banshee screems - you hear that the man struggles, that he doesn't quite have the voice for them, but puts a 150% effort into them anyways and pulls them off in total spite of his range, and they come out as absolutely vicious.
Oh yeah, another highlight of this album on behalf of Mr Bayley - all the little speeches to the crowd, the yelling, the swearing, the threatening ("If you're not putting your fists in the air before we go off this stage, I'm coming out there and I'm gonna fucking kill you fuckers!!"; "You with the glasses! Get your fists in the air or fuck off out the gig!" etc- there's tons of that stuff) - totally mad and mental, yet hilarious at the same time, this approach is just about as Heavy Fucking Metal as it could get. Fucking hell, this is more Heavy Fucking Metal than Motörhead and Overkill combined.
Anyways. This is definitely the perfect live album. It isn't any complex shit or revolutionarily virtuous, but it's catchy as fuck semi-Metal music complete with an unparelleled atmosphere that all comes together to one huge load of headbanging fun. Unless this type of music with its punkish and Rock'n Roll influences turns you off, and I mean turns you off entirely and without any reservations, then by all means, get your hands on it. There are no equals.