Tyranny Of Souls
As the charismatic front man of Iron Maiden; Bruce Dickinson certainly needs no introduction. He has been giving the people Metal at the helm of this band since he debuted with “Number Of The Beast” in 1982. He broke off from the band to do some solo records for a few years and eventually returned to Maiden for recording and touring full time once again. Somehow he managed to get another solo CD completed in the midst of the constant world touring he has been doing. His latest solo effort is an impressive piece of Metal and will appeal to all of his legions of fans who support him in Iron Maiden. Dickinson’s last solo release was seven years ago with “The Chemical Wedding” (a CD that received a large amount of critical and fan acclaim and very rightly so). This was a dark and heavy CD that kept with Bruce’s Metal roots and now with “Tyranny Of Souls” he is proving that lightning can strike twice on someone’s solo efforts. Working on similar dark themes, this new CD is very much the solid listen from start to finish and perhaps this is partially Dickinson and partially the skills of guitarist/producer Roy Z. Z. not only worked with Dickinson before, but is also known for his work on releases by Helloween, Halford and the reunited Judas Priest on their CD “Angel Of Retribution”.
When you first play this CD you will notice how little this resembles an Iron Maiden record and I liked that fact the most. After all, we Metal fans have more than enough Iron Maiden music where we can hear Bruce in that context. It is nice to be able to enjoy his solo music separately from that. Given the fact that a fair amount of it is killer material, it makes listening to the CD a better experience. Among the number of notable tracks my favorites included “Soul Intruders” which is the heaviest track and holds the most Maiden like chorus. There are also numbers that cross into different Hard Rock styles as well and this is apparent on “Devil On A Hog”. This tune could have been released from one of the big 70’s hard rockers like Rainbow. There is also a ballad like number with “Navigate The Seas Of The Sun”. An enjoyable piece but as others have commented repeats the title far too much for my liking. “Tyranny Of Souls” itself was also a favorite. Overall good song-writing, not a repeat of Iron Maiden riffing and a very solid production on every track. The liner notes reference that the CD was recorded entirely with Pro-Tools. A method many are choosing these days. All lyrics and interesting art are featured in the booklet included.
Comprising the band for the recording is of course Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Roy Z. (all guitars), David Moreno (drums), Ray Burke/Juan Perez (bass) and Maestro Mistheeria (keyboards). I highly recommend this CD as it was one of those records that you find difficult to turn off. It’s not always easy to support a popular group members solo efforts but I found myself hoping that we could see some live gigs to hear this music performed live. Fans should also know that Dickinson has released re-mastered and expanded editions of his back catalog with bonus tracks, demo recordings and extended liner notes. Put this on your list with the remastered “Chemical Wedding”.
This is Bruce Dickinson's first solo-album in 7 years, that is since the critically acclaimed "Chemical Wedding". And like "Chemical Wedding", the production is again entrusted to Roy Z, who also plays guitar in the album.
Leaving all rhetoric aside, Bruce has here done what Iron Maiden haven't managed to do in about a decade: namely sounding fresh and proposing something different both lyrically and especially musically. In fact, Iron Maiden's records have continuously been giving that "I've heard that before" feeling which is a pity since they remain great musicians and their songs have nothing particularly 'wrong' in themselves. But it's Bruce Dickinson were talking about here, and we've got a very good reason to do so.
"Tyranny..." is definitely one of the heaviest records Bruce has ever done and also the darkest (check out 'Believil'). It's also quite diverse, containing heavy riffs as well as great solos. 'Abduction' and 'Devil On A Hog' are 2 prime examples. Roy Z has done a top job both in the production as well as guitar departments. The few 'quieter' moments, such as 'Navigate The Seas Of The Sun' or the album's instrumental intro, actually help give the album a sinister feel. As regards Bruce, well I was taken aback at how much he's improved, while still being instantly recognisable.
Lyrically, "Tyranny Of Souls" was inspired by a William Blake poem, Blake being one of the greats in English literature. One might draw parallels with other infernal visions in literature, such as Milton's "Paradise Lost" or Dante's "La Divina Commedia". Yep, the fiery bowels of Hell have been a continuous source of inspiration for Metal! This is also reflected in the artwork of "Tyranny...", a fascinating depiction of Hell by Hans Hemling.
Reviewing a CD by a metal icon, one has to be aware not to be influenced by the artist's status. Considering this, although I won't define "Tyranny..." as a masterpiece, its definitely a great album. Bruce and Maiden fans will be delighted.
After an early run of sub-par releases from Maiden's ubervocalist Bruce Dickinson, it's very pleasing to note that his last triple set has been wonderful. There's really no need to compare the mighty Maiden to Bruce's solo output in style; the former being more melodically complex with guitar leads often to the point of overabundance and the latter's with Roy Z. working more with foundation riffs that don't significantly stand out, yet provide the anchorweight to hold down the dramatics of Bruce. Despite the occult vision on the cover, ToS is more of a cosmic space-trip than a walk through Hell's landscape. If an outward journey is really an inward journey, then Bruce is probably pretty satisfied with his lot in life. I liked more of the songs on Tyranny than on Chemical Wedding and Accident of Birth, but the majority blend together in sound and structure without any grand ones standing out like they did on the others. A little more of the wild man would kick this one up a bit, but it's an overall winner and another notch in the famed bullet belt of a heavy metal icon.