Author Topic: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding  (Read 3268 times)

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Offline GuineaPig

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[Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« on: July 24, 2009, 02:32:30 PM »
Following his departure from Iron Maiden in 1993, legendary singer and frontman Bruce Dickinson seemed to have no shortage of ideas.  Eschewing the metal that had made him famous, he continued to record and release hard rock more in the vein of his 1990 solo debut Tattooed Millionaire.  1994's Balls to Picasso and 1996's Skunkworks both contained experimental and without a doubt interesting material, but the quality of the albums was uneven and, barring the song "Tears of the Dragon" which became a hit in some countries, did not meet with commercial success.  After the failure of Skunkworks, Bruce Dickinson turned back to Roy Z to help write and produce his next album.  Also, former Maiden colleague Adrian Smith joined Roy Z and two other members of his group The Tribe of Gypsies to round out the band.  1997's Accident of Birth was a return to the straight up metal he was famous for, and was a critical and commercial success.  Deciding to stay with what worked, Dickinson & co. returned to the studio in 1998 to produce The Chemical Wedding.  And what they created was, in my opinion, the greatest metal album the world has ever seen.

Every aspect of the album is superb.  The performances, the music, the lyrics, the production, even the little bits of poetry at the end of songs… they all work together to create a mood and energy that the listener can’t help but enjoy.  From the first song to the last, the album remains consistent in its excellence.  Opener “King in Crimson” provides a roaring start, and an introduction to the fat, heavy, guitar sound that permeates this album.  Guitarists Roy Z and Adrian Smith used bass strings on their guitars during the recording of the album, and this song shows as good as any the thunderous effect it has.  This is just one of the elements that makes the production on this album so good.  As powerful as the guitars are, they never overwhelm any of the other instruments; the bass is very clear in the mix, and the drums sound great.  Also, I really love the minimalist production on Dickinson; it really allows his natural and unique voice to shine through, and dominate the album with his trademark sound.

However, Bruce Dickinson goes far beyond just being the namesake and voice of the album.  His lyrics on The Chemical Wedding are instrumental to the album’s mood, and are among the finest metal lyrics I’ve ever seen.  Some songs, like “Book of Thel”, “Gates of Urizen”, and “Jerusalem”, are based off the poetry of William Blake, who’s painting “Ghost of a Flea” adorns the cover of the album.  The intelligent lyrics, as well as the reciting of Blake’s poetry at the end of songs, help to deliver a haunting mood.  The non-Blake inspired lyrics are excellent as well, and often, like in the case of “Killing Floor”, perfectly accompany the heavy and violent guitar work on the album.

The Chemical Wedding also benefits from having two of the most underrated metal guitar players of all time gracing its presence.  Adrian Smith and Roy Z frame the album with memorable solos and riffs, and along with the rhythm section of Eddie Casillas and Dave Ingraham drive the album forward relentlessly.  Whether through distorted, down-tuned monster riffs or chilling clean sections, the rhythm work by both axe-men provide perfect accompaniment to Dickinson’s vocals.  One could not go without mentioning the excellent solos provided by Z and H; their contrasting approaches of shred and style working equally as well as the classic Maiden duo.  

It is difficult to isolate individual songs that stand above the rest, as the album is so consistently great.  However, special note has to go to “Jerusalem”, a gorgeous adaptation of a William Blake poem with simply one of the best endings in the history of metal, and “Book of Thel”, a roaring eight minute monster that features monster riffs, soaring vocals, and a great instrumental section.  I am fortunate enough to have the extended version of the album, and it is a testament to its excellence that even the bonus tracks are fantastic.  “Return of the King” and “Real World” are both straight-ahead metal songs, but “Confeos” is an interesting Deep Purple-esque rock song that is pure fun.

In conclusion, The Chemical Wedding is what every metal album should be: heavy without losing subtlety; aggressive without sacrificing restraint; and fun while still being intelligent.  It is, for me, the benchmark for all modern metal: and an absolute classic that every fan of heavy music should listen to.

Tracklisting:

1. King In Crimson  (8.5/10)
2. The Chemical Wedding  (9.5/10)
3. The Tower   (9.5/10)
4. Killing Floor  (8/10)
5. The Book Of Thel  (10/10)
6. The Gates Of Urizen  (8/10)
7. Jerusalem  (10/10)
8. The Trumpets Of Jericho (9.5/10)
9. Machine Men  (9/10)
10. The Alchemist  (9.5/10)
11. Return of the King [Bonus Track]  (8.5/10)
12. Real World [Bonus Track]  (7.5/10)
13. Confeos [Bonus Track]  (9/10)


Overall rating: 9.8/10
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Offline Nick

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2009, 07:46:12 PM »
Great review of a great album!

Oh, but please read the stickies and make the post you need to in the correct thread. :)
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Offline Perpetual Change

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2009, 07:47:27 PM »
Fantastic review of Bruce's best solo album (which, btw, is better than most Iron Maiden albums).

I'm completely baffled as to how Confeos got the highest score out of all the bonus tracks, though.  :yeahright

Offline Nick

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2009, 07:51:21 PM »
I'd agree that it's better than a fair number of Maiden albums. Certainly is more diverse than nearly all of them. It's not that is necessarily progressive, but there is a lot of creativity on it and it's allowed to breathe. On a lot of Maiden's "progressive" albums like Seventh Son and A Matter of Life and Death it seems there are a few interesting new ideas added in, but over the course of an album they are beaten to death. I never get that feeling with The Chemical Wedding.
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Offline GuineaPig

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2009, 07:02:10 AM »
Fantastic review of Bruce's best solo album (which, btw, is better than most Iron Maiden albums).

I'm completely baffled as to how Confeos got the highest score out of all the bonus tracks, though.  :yeahright

Try better than every other album ever!

Imo.


Also, Confeos gets the high score because it's different from the rest of the album, and just such a fun song to listen/drive to.
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Offline InstrumentalFiasco

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2009, 11:56:14 PM »
The first 3 songs of this album are beyond awesome...Then it gets kind of blah to me but the last song rocks
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Offline sneakyblueberry

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2009, 02:12:35 AM »
The first 3 songs of this album are beyond awesome...Then it gets kind of blah to me but the last song rocks

Killing Floor is ALWAYS skipped.  Everything after that is brilliance incarnate.

Offline GuineaPig

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 06:12:02 AM »
I'm a fan of Killing Floor.  It's got a cool vibe.
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Offline glaurung

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2009, 10:36:03 AM »
Nice review! And it is a fantastic album. I've always been a bigger fan of Accident of Birth though.  :-\
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Offline sneakyblueberry

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2010, 02:19:28 AM »
I love the dark sound of this album.  One of the few albums where you can say the production serves the album and its subject matter perfectly.

Offline wolfking

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2010, 04:35:55 AM »
By far one of the best metal albums ever.  Great review.  The first time I heard King in Crimson and Trumpets, I was floored!!

Offline Birch Boy

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Re: [Music] Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2010, 02:09:14 PM »
I wish I could write like this in English class!