After adorning the mantle of Iron Maiden back in 1982, thereís no denying that Mr. Bruce Dickinson has since become one of the best and most recognizable voices of British Heavy Metal. Not only is he still the voice of Maiden, but Bruce is also an acclaimed Radio DJ, TV Presenter, pilot, author, and has also achieved great success as a solo recording artist. Itís been seven years since Dickinson unleashed his last studio album (The Chemical Wedding) on the world, which explored intriguing, and dark themes.
At the time of its release, Dickinson was still on hiatus as Maidenís front man. Since then, heís returned to Maiden and has helped them release two outstanding albums, as well as hold record-breaking live shows and tours. The release of a new solo album by no means indicates an end of Dickinsonís relationship with Maiden. This album represents "something to do" between the time the last Maiden tour ended and before work on a new Maiden studio album begins. Tyranny Of Souls sees Bruce once again collaborating with guitarist/producer/writer Roy Z, and if the albumís cover is any indication (a 15th Century depiction of Hell by Hans Hemling), this release might be Dickinsonís heaviest solo effort ever.
Once past the first of many eerie moments (intro track "Mars Within"), the listener is immediately pelted with a pure masterpiece entitled "Abduction" (which is also the first music video). This track is pure riffing, accompanied by trademark Dickinson vocal harmonies, and capped off by a blistering lead by Roy Z. Foot-stomping drumming and tasteful guitar harmonies also help propel the track.
"Soul Intruders" begins with a double-pumping rhythm section thatíll have you wondering if you just switched over to the newest Thrash release. That thought slowly fades away, though, when Bruceís soaring vocals and guitar harmonies cut into the mix. The midsection of the track will once again have you heaving your fists as the "riffage" is turned up. All of this is capped off by a wonderful extended larynx exercise by Bruce that shows anyone with doubts that he can still carry an extended note quite well.
Another interesting highlight is "Devil On A Hog," which is an original catchy little Hellís Angelís number about Bruce and his motorcycle. The track has a nice multi-layered chorus with heavy guitar and a nice Roy Z lead.
"Believil," which also seems to be an acronym for "Believe Evil," is one of the darkest and moodier tracks, which, at times, seems to borrow musical recording techniques from Black Sabbath. While it works quite well, it just seems to be a 180-degree shift in mood, especially after following the lighter "Devil On A Hog" track. This is probably "the" track that will leave most listeners' minds unsettled.
The entire release is presented with an even, airy production, which adds a nice live studio ambience and feel to the sound spectrum. Throughout the release, Dickinson does a wonderful job of delivering crisp, clear, non-faltering vocals, while maintaining a style that never sounds like Maiden. Sure, thereís the dark moments and the redone references to the Sun (a few times in fact) and Icarus, which are all just part of his love of flight. But overall, thereís not a terrible track, or even a hint of a sugary love song on this release. Dickinson fans should rejoice by adding this riff-laden release to their collection and hope that it wonít take another seven years for his next solo effort.
Recording Quality: B+
Overall Rating: B
Release Date: May 24, 2005
To find out more about Bruce Dickinson, visit his site at www.ScreamForMe.com.