Blaze Bayley did not emerge from out of nowhere when he joined Iron Maiden. Six years before The X Factor, Bayley released his debut album with Wolfsbane, produced by Rick frickin’ Rubin of all people. Presumably this means Rick laid on a couch and didn’t wear shoes. Let’s have a listen, then.
“Man Hunt” is Van Halen meets Iron Maiden; as bizarre as that concoction may sound is half as much as it is good! It’s EVH and DLR, “Back in the Village”, hunting for painted ladies. Blaze shows off some impressive pipes, but guitarist Jase Edwards showcases all the good things you can do with a speedily-played six-string. Dirty Blaze must have hooked up with a bird according to “Shakin'”, which takes the sound back into the pocket. A Dokken/Halen hybrid with a touch of sleaze, and certainly harder edged than what most American bands were doing in 1989. “Killing Machine” sounds a bit like a lost Van Halen demo from 1977 but with a 1980s heavy metal drummer instead of Big Al. There’s no break between it and “Fell Out of Heaven”, acting like one big multi-parted song. Blaze is on the make again, sounding like a big dirty Ian Astbury. Add in the absolutely blitz of “Money to Burn” and you have a definitive “lust” trilogy.
Side two opens with a punchy tune called “Greasy”, possessing an unholy scream that you wish they would have utilized in Maiden. “I Like It Hot” is the funny summer cruisin’ tune, one the most commercial song on the album that is decidedly not commercial. You can sing along to the terrific chorus on “All Or Nothing” but the blitzkrieg speed makes it clearly radio unfriendly. The only power ballad “Tears From a Fool” is harder edged with a long solo, uncompromised and remote. And with not even a breath’s break, “Pretty Baby” concludes this album-length treatise on picking up chicks in an accelerated manor.
The sonics of this Rick Rubin production are typically dry and crisp, but with an annoying snare drum sound that makes you question his hearing. He arranged some cool gang vocals with both melody and rawness, but Live Fast, Die Fast doesn’t have any special sonic qualities that scream “Rubin”.
Wolfsbane happened an interesting niche here. They blended the best aspects of American hard rock, tossed it with some heavy fucking metal, and a singer who didn’t sound like everyone else (with a dirty mind). It was dangerous and it was different.
Was it good? Yeah! To quote the Heavy Metal Overlord, even Rick Rubin couldn’t fuck it up.