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Bruce Dickinson

Tyranny of Souls

Review by Gary Hill

This is the sixth solo album from Iron Maiden's lead singer Bruce Dickinson. While it's not perfect, it is one of the stronger discs from his solo repertoire. As can be expected several of the songs would fit quite well on any Maiden album. Still others, though, would seem more content to live on an album by any number of modern progressive rock albums. Yes, you heard right, progressive rock. A few of these tracks are very solid prog pieces that would hold up nicely alongside the catalog of artists like Magellan, Cairo or Echolyn. There are a couple of other unique numbers to round out the set.

There are quite a few stand out pieces here, and very few that fall into the iffy category. All in all Dickinson has turned in a very strong solo release that should please Maiden fans. Perhaps more interestingly this disc might also appeal to progressive rock fans. It's an intriguing combination and one that I think works quite well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Mars Within
Dark and dramatic atmosphere starts this. After a short segment in this mode, this one turns a lot heavier. Rather than a frantic Iron Maiden approach, though, this one feels like Brutal Planet era Alice Cooper meets Spinal Tap. It is a short one, and rather weird.
Abduction
This fast paced rocker feels very much like Maiden's "Brave New World" disc. It's an awesome scorcher. It includes a killer screaming instrumental break that should please all Maiden fans.
Soul Intruders
Another frantic metallic screamer, this one again could be quite at home on a Maiden album. It has some incredible guitar work and one of the longest vocal notes I've ever heard.
Kill Devil Hill
Dark and dramatic atmospheric music starts this, but they quickly launch into another frantic metal scorcher. This drops later to a pretty progressive rock oriented segment that's quite complex, expansive and impressive.
Navigate the Seas of the Sun
This is an acoustic based ballad that again feels rather proggy. Dickinson puts in some more retrained vocals at time here the feel quite a bit different than the sound we've come to expect from him. This one almost feels like Tempest at times. It gets heavy in spots, but only turns true metal late in the track. Even then, it drops back down to its origins after only staying there for a sort time. This would certainly fit comfortably on a disc from any number of modern prog bands. It's different, but quite cool, and gets quite powerful later.
River Of No Return
This is a potent cut and another that could be imagined fitting onto a modern progressive rock album. It's a killer cut, if not expected from Dickinson. It turns more metal later. They also turn in a very dramatic guitar solo segment here. The prog elements return and fight with the meal for control.
Power of the Suns
Starting with just Dickinson, this more familiar Maidenesque territory stomps in its metal approach. It has a cool, if a bit generic guitar solo section.
Devil On A Hog
A more groove oriented metal jam makes up the basis of this. I guess I'd day it feels a bit at times like Maiden does AC/DC and Priest all in one song. The chorus is more hard rock than metal, though. This one is a little weak in comparison to a lot of the rest of the album. Still, the guitar solo is tasty. I love the line, "Seen the world and I got the shirt".
Believeil
This is a weird one. It's dark, gloomy and creepy. It's almost like a dark combination of Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd. The chorus is smoking metal, though. This is a pretty cool piece once you get used to it. It's sort of dark heavy psychedelia. It changes to a full on dark and heavy jam that is fast paced, energetic and oh so cool. It drops to dark and atmospheric later to take it out.
A Tyranny of Souls
Arguably the best cut on the disc, this one starts as a balladic number then shifts to a metal stomper that really delivers. This one truly smokes and proves that Dickinson knows how to close it strong.
 
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