Bruce Dickinson

The Chemical Wedding

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Like its consistently excellent (and slightly superior) predecessor, Accident of Birth, Bruce Dickinson's fifth solo effort, The Chemical Wedding, continued to provide a welcome sanctuary (blatant reference intended) for disgruntled Iron Maiden fans suffering through the all-too-long mediocrity of the Blaze Bayley era. By avoiding the experimental pitfalls of prior solo outings to fully embrace his metallic origins, Dickinson -- the solo artist -- is at his creative peak on these two records. The importance of co-songwriter, producer, and guitarist Roy Z's guidance in this revival cannot be overstated, and reuniting with fellow Maiden alum Adrian Smith wasn't a bad idea, either. Muscular anthems such as "King in Crimson," "Killing Floor," and the title track manage to deliver with aggression, confidence, and, most importantly, a modern metal aesthetic sorely missing in Iron Maiden's efforts of the time. The album's second half does dip in quality somewhat, but a storming parting shot of "Machine Men" (a classic Dickinson-Smith collaboration if ever there was one) and "The Alchemist" (which revisits the title track's main theme in Seventh Son fashion) offer a worthy finale to this very impressive album.

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