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Look, I know this album has ‘Tears Of The Dragon’ which even with the Rush playing reggae section is a fantastic song but that does not mean it’s a classic album, especially when consider that eight of these songs are either embarrassingly bad or just forgettable. I should of known, Bruce wearing what look like Pete Way’s tracksuit bottoms on the sleeve and the fact that I picked this up for 70p that this was going to be a stinker but no, I thought from hearing ‘Tears Of The Dragon’ that I was in for a classic Bruce Dickinson solo album.
Your probably thinking that I hate this album because its not metal? Well no, this is pretty damn bad regardless of the genre, its confused and Bruce although trying new things which is good as he didn’t descend into the stale autopilot generic metal that Maiden did in the 90’s, these new ideas for the most part simply don’t work. First of all this album opens on ‘Cyclops’ which is goes nowhere for seven minutes and even features the one thing which makes me scared and angry, slap bass, what the hell Bruce? Did you think you’d try to be funky? In the Red Hot Chilli Peppers now are we? Thankfully things pick up a bit on ‘Hell No’ which is very reminiscent of the Led Zeppelin song ‘Friends’ from ‘III’ and it’s easily one of this albums highlights . ‘Gods of War’ isn’t a Def Leppard song, sadly (yes, I like ‘Hysteria’) and is just filler as is most of the album so I won’t go into much detail. Now, if you thought the slap bass was bad wait till you hear ‘Shoot All The Clowns’ it has rapping! Bruce Dickinson, a nice English boy from Worksop rapping, I’ll let that sink in for a minute. Anyway, Bruce was apparently told by the record company to write a song like ‘Rocks’ era Aerosmith and he came up with this, Ok Roy Z’s guitar is pretty Aerosmith but their wasn’t any rapping and slap bass on an Aerosmith album in 1976. Also this song sounds pretty much like any other mid-90’s crap rock band, just to make matters a little bit worse. Even some good guitar solos can’t save this one. Now as previously stated ‘Tears Of The Dragon’ is an amazing song, easily one of highpoints of Bruce’s solo career which would be so fruitful in the late 90’s, however I can’t help but smile when thinking “here’s Bruce trying to be a 90’s rocker and he still slips in a song about Dragons” now that’s metal! It even features an tempo change and a great solo, wow at last a bit which rocks, it’s a similar feeling to ‘Dirty Women’ at the end of ‘Technical Ecstasy’.
Instrumentally, this band is good and can pull off the 90’s rock thing well although the playing isn’t a patch on ‘Chemical Wedding’ and ‘Accident of Birth’ which both Roy Z and Eddie Casillas would play on. Roy Z, is seriously lacking in the riffs and solo which were vital parts of ‘Chemical Wedding’, ‘Accident of Birth’ and ‘Tyranny Of Souls’. But the bands good, Bruce always had a good ear for players giving a good few guitarists a break (I’ am especially grateful he chose Janick for the Maiden job, that’s right Janick’s a phenomenal player). Bruce is still in great shape vocally here, those who didn’t like his more gritty singing on ‘No Prayer…’ and ‘Fear of the Dark’ will certainly find this more to their liking.
So although this has a few moments for the most part it’s tame, uninspired and even dated 90’s rock. Hardly the classic some will have you believe. Download ‘Tears Of The Dragon’ and maybe ‘Hell No’ which I suppose were worth my 70p. Thankfully things would pick up on ‘Skunkworks’