When I first heard the song "Russian Holiday", I wasn't too sure about this project... But now when I finally got the album, I must admit that the song and the whole EP are very well done and represent excellent musicianship by both Blaze and Thomas.
The song selection is great since it covers songs from many periods of Blaze's career after joining Maiden. There's very interesting arrangement of Stealing Time from Tenth Dimension album, brand new song "Russian Holiday" which has some beautiful melodies and wistful atmosphere. Then there's Soundtrack of my life, which is one my favourites from Blaze's catalogue. When I first heard Blaze and Thomas doing acoustic version of this in YouTube, I loved it; it's great that they included this here! One More Step seemed to be a very personal and honest song in King of Metal album and on it's own way it was one of the record's strongest songs. And think that I like this arrangement even more. The fifth and final song of the EP is the majestic Iron Maiden song, Sign of the Cross; one of the best Maiden songs in my opinion, from the great The X-Factor album. That album has always been of my favourites from Maiden catalogue and it's great that Blaze and Thomas did this cover for the EP; once again the arrangement is great and the whole performance nails the atmosphere and concept of the song perfectly. And that is the thing with this EP: the arrangemets and artists' performances represent the mood and idea of the songs perfectly, even though the instruments are very different from the original versions. One could say "it doesn't work", but it does. It just does.
I really like how Blaze's voice carries through the album with these wonderful acoustic arrangements. Bakker, Zwijsen and Bayley... what a trio. If someone had told me five years ago that such trio would do an album like this in 2013, perhaps I wouldn't have believed. It's the beautiful arrangements, it's the atmosphere and passion. And pure musical skill to make it work this well!
There are moments when it's not time for these acoustic songs. Sometimes it's time for guitar riffs, loud and rock. But there are also moments when this acoustic EP is perfect. It gives you very interesting, enjoyable and beatiful new arrangements of five excellent songs. And when the time is right for Russian Holiday, you love it.
Cheers, Blaze and Thomas. What a great EP, what a great addition to Blaze's amazing discography.
Greetings from Finland!
"Then is when learned it's not the falling down that counts
What counts is getting up again"
One More Step