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Ever since the discovery of Iron Maiden, they have been my personal favourite band of all time. However, 1994-1998 marked some of my least favourite years of the band, not only with the departure of guitarist Adrian Smith (which resulted in the delayed listening to No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark), but also of the iconic voice of the band, Bruce Dickinson. The years without Bruce Dickinson saw the band release the disappointing The X Factor and Virtual XI. Fortunately, the same period of time saw Bruce Dickinson releasing some of his strongest solo materials, in particular The Chemical Wedding.
Unlike the increasing progressive and overtly dark direction that Maiden had been taking over the years, The Chemical Wedding sees Bruce Dickinson presenting some good old heavy metal without all that desperate efforts in sounding different. The album starts off strongly with King in Crimson, and Bruce Dickinson's vocals are immediately recognisable, and unlike the raspy style that he attempts on No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark, his vocal quality here is markedly smoother and more fluid, certainly sounding better than the strained attempt at sounding aggressive. Songs like Gates of Urizen are perfect for displaying the vocal prowess of Bruce Dickinson, and the reason why he remains one of my favourite vocalists becomes self-explanatory. The presence of fellow Maiden member, guitarist Adrian Smith is also significant, with the guitar solos that are unleashed extremely familiar, giving fans of these dark years of Maiden something that they can finally identify with. Add to that the often duelling guitar solos between Adrian and Roy Z, with each displaying their unique playing styles, makes for one hell of a fun and dynamic listen.
Bruce Dickinson also proves his abilities as a songwriter on the album, with the music sufficiently bringing out the dark feelings with an equally dark album concept that lies beneath the album, and penning music that suits the various emotions of the various songs. For example, the title track Chemical Wedding has a somewhat sad and melancholic melody to it, fitting to the lyrics on the song, while Killing Floor has a respective aggressive sound to it, and it is on this track where Bruce Dickinson attempts a pseudo-growl, adding to the fierceness to the song. There are also epic tracks such as Book of Thel and closing track, The Alchemist, with each running for more than 8 minutes long, and Book of Thel being the personal favourite track, especially with the drum fills in the middle of the track, and the epic feel of the song through the numerous transitions present throughout. The usage of keyboards on the track also helps in building and maintaining that tension in the air. The Alchemist sees a short reprise of the title track Chemical Wedding towards the end, and is the perfect close to this epic journey.
Lyrics-buffs who have found the epic lyrical concepts that Maiden albums often have nothing to worry about here as well, with The Chemical Wedding containing perhaps some of the darkest lyrics that Bruce Dickinson has ever penned, making the reading of the lyrics an outstanding journey in itself. The only minor complaint here are the slight nu-metal moments on Machine Men, that kinda spoil the mood a little. Overall, The Chemical Wedding is an album that more than makes up for the Maiden years and albums without Bruce Dickinson, and is perhaps even superior to most material that Maiden has put out to date.
This is truely the best of Bruce. The songwriting is just terrific and to the point. Lyrically this album has some sort of concept based on alchemy. Many of the tracks follow the concept and we see the lyrics being written just to the point for the concept. The lyrics are superb, mystical and the production just brings out the mystic feeling out of the songs. The sound of the album is much heavier compared to his previous albums or his work in Maiden.
The individual performances are just superb. The main highlight of the album is Bruce as expected. His voice is just magical in this album. He sounds wicked and possesed on tracks like Book of Thel or Killing Floor but also sounds melodic in the softer songs like Jerusalem and Gates of Urizen. Adrian Smith is also in a lethal form. Along with Roy Z he forms the guitar unit on this album. The guitar work on this record is just brilliant. The drums played by David Ingraham are also fantastic especially the little drum solo in Book of Thel.
Among the individual songs, Book of Thel is the best song off the album. It is also the longest and the most aggressive song on the album. Bruce sounds really possesed on this song. Jerusalem is one of the softer songs on the album. It starts almost as a ballad but gets on heavier. The title track is also great. It is midpaced but the mysterious mystic feeling that it manages to create is just fantastic. The chorus is really brilliant. The Alchemist is another highlight. It is also midpaced, and like the title track, it also has a mystic feel to it. Incidently, towards the end, this song very beautifully merges in the chorus of the title track. King in Crimson, Machine Men, Trumpets of Jericho, The Tower, The Gates Of Urizen all are great songs. Killing Floor is an aggressive track, but after some time it sounds quite boring, just like a Number of the Beast.
This album easily crushes away any of the Bruce's earlier outputs and that includes his entire career in Maiden also, yes this is even better than a Powerslave or Somewhere In Time. All the elements work well and flow in together to deliver a well organised and expertly planned output. At the end of the songs Bruce adds spoken parts which to the best of my knowledge are the works by William Blake. It sounds cool and very fitting considering the concept of the album. The atmosphere and the strange aura which surrounds the album is another standout point. We are transported to completely another world of alchemy and poetry. Concluding, this album is a must have for any Iron Maiden or Bruce Dickinson fan, so don't hesitate to buy it.
Having made an impressive comeback with 1997’s "Accident of Birth," Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson and his strong entourage sought to take their brand of heavy metal to the next level with this 1998 effort. As expected, they created an album that was so successful that it still manages to stand up strongly to most of the material of Dickinson’s alma mater.
The first thing you may notice is how this effort is even heavier than the albums before it. I’ve been told that guitarists Roy Z and Adrian Smith actually used bass guitar strings while they recorded this album and it really shows. Each song is packed with dark and heavy riffs that complement the album’s mystical atmosphere quite nicely. Fortunately, the melodic elements are still in practice with Dickinson delivering his trademark tenor and even including more mellow moments on tracks such as "Jerusalem" and "The Alchemist."
Adding further to the album’s atmosphere are its equally mystical lyrics, which seem to revolve mostly around the poetry of poet/painter William Blake. I’m still unfamiliar with the bulk of Blake’s poetry but Dickinson has done a splendid job incorporating the themes within the tunes and even manages to quote the legendary "And did those Feet in Ancient Times" word for word in the previously mentioned "Jerusalem." Also interesting are the spoken narrations performed by shock rock pioneer Arthur Brown. I’m also unfamiliar with Brown’s work but he has a refreshing voice that sounds particularly haunting on the epic "Book of Thel." Too bad he only performs on two songs (three if you include the bonus track "Confeos") ...
Conveniently enough, there are very few flaws to be found on this album. Every song has been carefully constructed and there is no trace of filler to be found. However, there are times when Dickinson himself doesn’t seem to be able to keep up the aggression of some songs. Despite the rest of the song being mysteriously haunting, the chorus on "Killing Floor" feels rather awkward due to the inclusion of the raspier vocals that plagued his early solo albums. The same can be said for "Machine Men," which features somewhat awkward vocal lines during the verses despite inspiring the Finnish metal band of the same name.
All in all, it’s one of the strongest albums that Dickinson has ever been a part of and is an excellent example of high quality of melodic modern metal.
1) Heavier guitar tone and powerfully executed vocals for the most part
2) Interestingly written lyrics and poetry quotations
3) A few melodic flourishes keep things interesting and varied.
1) Dickinson’s vocals sometimes feel out of place during the more aggressive tunes.
2) May to be tougher to get into for some listeners
My Current Favorites:
"King in Crimson," "The Chemical Wedding," "Book of Thel," "Gates of Urizen," and "Trumpets of Jericho"
In the Abominable Void of 1998 the spirit of ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ had lain dormant for a decade, ignoring a certain Accident of course. In 1998 would its perturbed spirit erupt once again and destroy Pompeii? Or perhaps, it rebuilt Jerusalem with an album that truly was the Marriage of Heaven & Hell, taking the bulk and ferocity present in some modern forms of music and using an alchemist’s touch to add a most vital and oft neglected ingredient, melody.
Lo, a shadow of horror is risen, a ‘King in Crimson’ comes offering a proclamation;
“Yes I am heavy, but I do not suck and I needn’t rely on your petty and weak deathly growls”. Amongst the heaviness, he also offered melody, majesty and might in his twin sons of multi-racial origin, Roy and Adrian. In the year of 1998 the guitar solo had been all but abandoned, left for dead…but just as heavy metal mummies struck from the grave so did these two- sworn to avenge and deliver Old Testament heavy metal guitar! Chemically Wed, the title track emerged from a phase induced muddy haze of guitars, adding colour and depth which emphasised the nature of this marriage (one south of Purgatory, the other slightly to the north), from which the vocals broke through the haze like the beams of all those lighthouses.
A gypsy lady gave me my tarot cards in ‘The Tower’ as the guitars droned and spiralled in a manner most pleasing to these ears. The hangman may have indeed been showing his rictus grin, but that did not match my own smile upon hearing the resurrected ‘Powerslave’ styled melodic intricacy in the post-coital glow of the phallus shaped six- stringed instrument’s solo. Lord, they had remembered all those Christmas cards I hath sent to dearest Saint Nicholas requesting;
‘Dearest Saint Nicholas,
Would you please tell Adrian Smith to resurrect the ‘Powerslave’ styled guitar harmony.
Lots of love, your pal Ed.’
‘Killing Floor’ was indeed a much maligned track, are dearest reviewer thought to himself. But indeed their was much for the children to relish in, he thought. The guitar interplay as per usual was fantastic and a interlude keyboard lifted the song above the humdrum to a point at which it could view the cathedral spires and citadels below as nothing but greyish specs.
Dick Brucington had indeed been know to visit his local book van in the past, but never before had his listeners experienced such a unabashed display of wordiness before. The messages of Blake are rooted deeply in his ‘Chemical Wedding’, with even a smattering of Shakespeare wickedly coming it’s way through the lyrics…albeit not upon a Marriage hearse as Blake’s did.
‘Jerusalem’, the highest point of this album, is based on the poem itself which featured the Giant Albion to who is the embodiment of Britain. Aptly enough, the song itself is fiercely English as well. The folk elements that are a predominant feature of the song are so far removed in terms of dignity and grace from the plastic and shallow attempts of so many Scandinavian, musically inadequate “Vikings” (you drive a lorry and have yet to master the high seas yet alone touch another man’s world serpent) and the guitars harmonies as melodious as a choir of angels, once again lifting the song into a whole new realm of brilliance. The God of Hellfire himself, Arthur of Brown, pops in for a poetry reading before going back to feed the pigs on his psychedelic mushroom farm.
Yet some poor, spiritually deprived vagrants may never understand. Dearest Father, they sleep clutching their Vio-lence and Dark Angel. Thrashing in abject misery, while we, the Chemically Wed, crept out of are bedroom windows, into the night time world. We wander with shitty Ipod headphones firmly in our fully lobed ears, remembering, that God is love and he gave us a son by the name of Adrian of Smith.
Have you not heard the splendour and glory of our ‘Chemical Wedding’? Well, you poor hapless child, take you father’s keys to his cabinet and consume all the bottles of amber and crimson liquid you may find… drink child, drink from the crimson cup of wonder! Now, take your reaching stick and knock haphazardly around in mother’s bathroom until you come across some white and surely delicious sweets, eat them all. Lo and behold! The outside city that entombed you has now transformed into England’s pleasant and green land, run infant, run. The gift of second sight is truly upon you! Collect all your shiny pennies and go now to the Dark Satanic Mills of Virgin Megastore, pay the priestess at the till and take your copy of ‘The Chemical Wedding’, before the drugs and alcohol in your system leave you infirm and dilapidated.
Ye Olde Edit
After "Accident of Birth" came out and the praise that it drew from critics for going back to his metal roots, Bruce knew he had to capitilize on it with his next record. Well, he came with another heavy metal album and his best solo record bar none. This is a classic and a must own for any heavy metal fan. Between Bruce's strong, powerful voice, some great song writing, and the once again great riff and solo work of Roy Z and Adrian Smith, this album is phenomenal.
This album is one the best written lyrically. The thought provoking lyrics and the way Bruce sings them make it interesting and more rocking. Bruce pours his emotion into each word and makes even the mediocore sounding songs, good ones. The poet William Blake seems to be a source of influence for some of the songs. I checked out some of his stuff and he is a good writer. His use of symbolism and the way his words flow is outstanding.
Now for the music. This album features a blend of fast, kick-ass songs, and slow, melodic ones. A great thing though is each song has its own unique feature which makes it good and every chorous on this album can easily be sung along with. The songs are really heavy sounding to which is another plus and is heard through the opener "King in Crimson" which has a heavy, low riff with Bruce angrily singing the vocals. "The Tower" features a neat bass intro with a soothing and catchy riff and chorous. The epic which is about eight and a half minutes long is "Book of Thel" which opens with this creeping mandarin sounding intro and then slowly erupts into a balls-out metal song that rocks the fuck out of you and then goes into a sweet, melodic chorous. Greatly done by Bruce and the boys. At the end of the song, there is this low voice reciting lines of a William Blake poem which sets the tone for the next song "Gates of Urizen." This song creates a nice atmosphere with the slow guitar starting and Bruce singing with a somewhat melancholic voice. This song can get a little boring after awhile though, but it is still a good song with a powerful chorous. One of the best songs on here is "Trumpets of Jericho" which features some awesome pounding drumbs and guitars flowing at the same time and rhythm compounded with shouted chorous where Bruce shows tremendous control of his voice.
The best song on this album and one of the Bruce has is "Jerusalem." The atmosphere created by the mandarin and the thumping drumbs is just excellent. I can visualize everything in this song with the lyrics taken from a Blake poem as it just flows beautifully into the solo and is very emotional to me with the way this one is sung. The shifty and melodic solo is the icing on the cake with this one. Overall, some great material on this album, but there are a couple problems.
At times this album suffers from repetitive chorouses. Some of them are just sung too many times and it brings songs "Machine Men" and the title track. Another problem is some generic riffing at times which brings down "Machine Men," the title track and as I said before "Gates of Urizen."
On a full scale though, this album is fantastic from start to finish and u will not be disappointed. Bruce and Roy Z again make a great album, but even more, a classic. If you love heavy metal, this is the album for you. Get it. Love it. Like it. Buy it.
When Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden to pursue a solo career, it seemed to take him quite a while to really find his niche. Sure his previous albums had their own pieces of greatness but it wasn't until "Accident of Birth" that he had gone back to the roots that had made him famous to begin with. There were many who didn't think Bruce could out do himself with his next album and surely enough he proved them all wrong with "The Chemical Wedding".
This album blows everything else he has done in his solo career to date completely out of the water. The riffs are heavier, the lyrics are more intelligent, the solos are much more complex and it seems that everyone involved was alot more passionate about what they were doing and it really pays off for them.
This albums has some definate classics on it such as the 8 minute epic "Book of Thel" which starts off with a dark and powerful riff and leads to exploding vocals and a chorus that despite quoting MacBeth, sounds as badass as ever.
We're also treated with an epic ballad which is just short of 7 minutes called "Jeurusalem" which quotes almost directly from William Blake's poem, it has a great soothing opening with a nice and heavy finish.
The greatness keeps on coming with the semi ballads "The Chemical Wedding" and "The Alchemist" which still have that raw and heavy sound. The rest of the album also shows this power, some are fast tracks whilst some are slower, but no song really feels out of place.
Infact, the only real complaint I have about this album would be the oppening track "King in Crimson" and a later track "Killing Floor". The songs aren't necessarily bad, but they seem as though Bruce and his band tried too hard to sounds evil and I feel it backfired.
The expanded edition also comes with three bonus tracks; "Return of the King" is surprisingly one of Bruces greatest songs, and it's amazing that it didn't make an album. "Real World" is catchly little number, but I can see why it didn't make the album since it didn't live up to the rest and would sound out of place. "Confeos" seems like a mess of a song and isn't really appealing.
All in all it's an amazing album and is a must have for any Bruce, Maiden or Metal fan in general. It's a heavier side of the Air Raid Siren but is still as melodic as ever and it really is a masterpiece.
I pondered whether I should review this album considering its already substantial number of reviews, then again I disagree with most of the reviewers. This is not Bruce Dickinson’s best, look to Accident of Birth or Balls to Picasso for that. Both of those albums had their amazing moments, whereas Chemical Wedding sorely lacks such a song to vault it into the halls of classic albums.
For one, I don’t like this new production. Not that it is of poor quality, but that it doesn’t fit Dickinson. He was/is the vocalist for Iron Maiden, a band known for its uncharacteristically (for a metal band) melodic and soft guitar tone. Nor do any of his previous albums hint at such a heavy production. However, while important, production will not kill an album if the material is good.
Let’s start off with the bad. “Killing Floor” and “Machine Men” fail. You can see Dickinson experimenting here; unfortunately, it doesn’t work. “Chemical Wedding” is boring. Apart from that we have tracks that range from decent to good. As I said, there is nothing outstanding here. No “Man of Sorrows” or “Darkside of Aquarius” grace this album and it really hurts. Instead, we get some passable epics, similar to those put out recently by Iron Maiden, the competent, yet forgettable opener “King Crimson” and the marginally interesting “Gates of Urzien.”
A portion of the blame lies with Bruce. Maybe it is the new production, but these songs aren’t nearly as catchy and the choruses feel a little clumsy. “Trumpets of Jericho” avoids this problem somewhat and thus remains one of my favorite cuts and “The Tower” has a really nifty bass line. Apart from that, The Chemical Wedding is an underwhelming album.
One of the things that I admire about Bruce Dickinson is the fact that he does not focus his solo albms solely around his vocals, he writes and performs the songs as part of a band. And what a band it is, with former Maiden teammate Adrian Smith, as well as long time partner in crime Roy Z leading the way with their heavy riffs and melodic leads. In fact, for many of the songs Adrian and Roy put bass strings on their guitars making them especially heavy, yet not quite as crunchy as a 7-string.
The new guitars kick off the album with a bang with "King in Crimson." The perfect leadoff song, it paves the way and gives a listener an idea what to expect for the rest of the album. "Book of Thel" is another heavy song, with a great riff and with piano incorperated as well. It's over 8:00 long, but feels no longer than five. Only downpoint is that it feels it's over too early! The title track is another strong tune; the guitar soloing is soooo incredibly good; it's "the perfect note at the perfect time" sort of thing. That same statement could apply to the solo in "Jerusalem," but really mentioning only that would not do the song justice. It's shorter than "Book of Thel," but I consider it the "epic" of the album because of the way it is set up. Quiet, clean guitars in the beginning building up to the brilliant chorus of "LET IT RAIN!" This is my candidate for best song on the album, although the three I mentioned previously give this a run for its money. "The Alchemist" is another strong song that at the end, blends seemlessly into the chorus of the title track; much better than the forced ending of the album "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son." Other notable tracks include "The Tower" for its great chorus and "Trumpets of Jehrico" for its unusual vocals parts and riffs.
Yeah, this is even better than many Maiden albums. In fact, only "Killing Floor" and "Machine Men" keep this from a 100. While my title says that this is Iron Maiden, it really is different due to the more riff based songs and overall heaviness. What I meant by the title is that I consider Dickinson's two albums with Adrian Smith to be the "true" Maiden albums of the late ninties, as opposed to the so-called Iron Maiden that put out mainly crap with "Virtual XI" and its kin. I really encourage you to check this out, because as far as heavy metal goes, it doesn't get much better than this.
What more is there to be said about Bruce Dickinson? The Chemical wedding is quite possibly the best work from the Air Raid Siren. Good enough as his epitaph? Could well be. While not the best album he’s been involved with, it’s his best work with the vocals and writing superb throughout. The instruments, while not the driving force behind the songs ( like in Maiden) complement Bruce’s voice perfectly and the crunch riffs are only matched by the awesome solos that are conjured up by the guitar ‘dream- team’ of Adrian Smith and Roy- Z.
The album takes all that Bruce offered on Accident of Birth and adds some more progressive elements to it. The title the Chemical Wedding is another word for Alchemy ( I could go into more detail- but if you want to find out more, click on the Bruce Dickinson Commentary in the links section). The other aspects that this album bases itself on is the work of 18th Century poet William Blake a fascinating man who I’d recommend discovering more about. It’s his gothic interests that Bruce looks at here.
1. The King in Crimson. Fairly solid AOB-esque song here with crushing riffs and powerful yet slightly raspy vocals ( almost reminiscent of his work on early- 90s Maiden). This is a song that make me want to sing along while saluting the dark lord. Two great solos punctuate it, with Adrian’s being the slightly superior of the two. Can’t fault it as an album opener, yet this catchy little number pales in comparison to the metal juggernauts which follow it. 9/10
2. The Chemical Wedding. I like this track of it a lot. Many have criticised this for being too repetitive, but I’m just blown away by the semi- mystic feel that this song has and the powerful chemical symbolism contained within. One of the coolest lines ever is included in this song- ‘ and all the lighthouses, their beams converge to guide me home’. The power that Bruce includes in this is simply spellbinding. Some people claim this to be a song regarding a king and queen risen again to live happily after, or something else of that effect. Another Roy- Z solo completes this as a strong title track. 9.5/10.
3. The Tower. Lots of symbolism regarding Tarot can be found here. A bass- heavy intro reminding me of Wrathchild kicks us off and with powerful soloing from Adrian combined with a catchy little chorus this continues with what we have had already. On a side note, The Tower is never a song that really grips me when listening to it, but I end up singing it on the bus or somewhere equally inconvenient. 9/10.
4. The Killing Floor is well……….different. You can see what Bruce is trying to do here- write a number of the beast part two, but it doesn’t come off too well and quite frankly seems contrived. Not a bad intro riff though and some smooth vocal work. Bar the absolutely terrible chorus. 8/10.
5. The Book of Thel. Bruce’s creative opus? I think it might just be the case. Though it shares it’s name with a poem by William Blake, it bares very little resemblance to the poem. There’s a haunting intro with a building riff which stops and then rebuilds later in the song. This is combined with some decent Heaven can Wait style chanting. An instrumental section to rival Maiden’s greats contains some VERY cool solos and the song is rounded out by a spoken word part with some poetry being read by Arthur Brown. The poem is taken from The First Book Of Urizen written by William Blake in 1794. This is the centrepiece of the album and I believe Bruce’s solo career. Ace. 10/10.
6. This poetry at the end of The Book of Thel leads nicely into the The Gates of Urizen, a very mellow and almost trancelike song. A heavier middle section kicks a bit of life into the song, but it’s still fairly standard stuff. 8/10.
7. Jerusalem is next up, and while firstly a poem by William Blake, it was finished by John Milton. It was later turned into a hymn and Bruce here attempts to turn into a metal anthem. This was written by the unsubstantiated myth that Jesus once visited Britain and also a piece about the destruction of William Blake’s much loved countryside during the late 18th century Industrial Revolution. Though Bruce has changed it a lot, it still bears much resemblance to the original. The vocals near the end ( Jerusaleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem for example) are simply stunning. Something quite typical of this album. Some excellent solos and an outro containing not only more Arthur Brown read poetry ( from the second book of Milton) but some mandolin playing from the adaptable Roy- Z. 9.5/10.
8. Trumpets of Jericho.The title is a direct reference to Joshua Chapter 6 in the Bible, in which the Lord tells Joshua how to defeat Jericho due to the large wall surrounding and protecting the city. The Lord tells Joshua to march around the city with the army once for six days. On the seventh day, the Lord told Joshua to get seven priests carrying trumpets of rams’ horns and march around the city seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets. On the seventh time around the city, when a long blast comes from the trumpets, make all the people give a loud shout and the wall of the city will collapse. So Joshua followed the Lord’s order and the wall of Jericho fell so the Israelites went into the city and killed all of the people of Jericho except Rahab the prostitute, who hid the spies that the Israelites sent in. This is a song about earth turning to a place of damnation and the almost inevitable inescapability of it. Awesome vocals on the chorus- no- one, not even Halford could pull this off with the same panache as Bruce does. Very metal indeed and a laugh bringing back shades of Powerslave? What more could you want? Second best song on the album. 10/10.
9. Machine Men. Not Smith’s best contribution to music, but not a bad heavy pounder to end the epics with. A song about resurrection and machinery it seems. The mumbling in the background is Bruce reading the yellow pages aloud apparently. Odd. Not one of the best songs on the album, but not a bad song nonetheless. 8.5/10
10. The Alchemist. Good place to finish. About a creator who’s disillusioned with what he’s created so leaves it to do as it wills. An allegory for the earth perhaps? Anyway, this continues the mystic sounds on the album and helps to round things off with a more solid effort than the slightly disappointing Machine Men. Solos are again good, and Roy- Z and H are again instrumental, yet it’s Bruce’s vocals which rule the song. Masquerades as an epic, but silence and another spoken word section pad this out. Not the best of the bunch, but not the worst either. 9.5/10.
11. The Japanese version contained the bonus track The Return of the King. Though having little in common with the third volume of Tolkein’s epic trilogy ( instead focusing on stone circles) it’s a great song. 9.5/10- You won’t find this on many versions unfortunately.
So, all in all one of the greatest albums of the 90s. Being my first Bruce Dickinson album, it brings back fond memories of summers past ( 2000) to be precise. In retrospect, probably Bruce’s most solid solo outings. Vocally, and creatively ( from Bruce) this is his greatest album ever. This deserves the 92% I’ve given it. I don’t give an album a score of 90+ unless it’s something VERY special. This, quite frankly is. Well worth picking up if you’re a fan of Maiden. Even if left unconvinced by Bruce’s other solo work, I can assure you this is the one.
This is really kind of a random gem here. I mean, nobody was really expecting great things from Bruce Dickinson after the subpar closure of his first tenure with Iron Maiden, and his largely unremarkable solo career. And hell, he already had his one moment of brilliance in Accident of Birth; that should have been enough. But instead, out of nowhere, Mr. Dickinson produced this really excellent piece of Kick Ass Heavy Metal™. It's not really comparable to glory-era Maiden, but it's very good in its own right.
The thing that must first be pointed out is the lyrics, which are very fucking cool. There's some great poetic and figurative stuff, and some sort of concept running through the album having something to do with obscure Biblical references, alchemical wisdom, and the Tarot. I could probably write a few pages trying to decipher it, but this is a music review, so I'll just state that the lyrics are very good (especially "The Alchemist") and move on.
The vocals on this album are obviously very good, as this IS Bruce Dickinson we're talking about here. Just as impressive are the guitars, tracked by the metal dream duo of Adrian Smith and Roy Z (who I once saw play a Glenn Tipton solo BEHIND HIS FUCKING BACK). The leads are precise and melodic throughout, and there's also some incredibly goddamn heavy riffs on here that just (sorry, Clanny) beat the everloving shit out of what Maiden was doing at the time.
The absolute highlight of The Chemical Wedding is the epic "Book of Thel," which goes from an eerie intro with almost jazzy-lead guitar to one of those heavy riffs I was talking about. The chorus is the best moment on this whole hour-long album, with a great bass line backing Mr. Dickinson's coolest vocal melody this side of "Caught Somewhere In Time." The group chanting at 4:15 brings back the eerieness in between two great solos, and the final chorus leads into a great vocal melody-driven outro and a trippy spoken epilogue. Stirring, haunting, heavy shit.
The other two really awesome songs are "The Alchemist" and "Jerusalem." The former (which masquerades as an eight-minute epic, due to about two and a half minutes of silence and an odd spoken bit) has some pretty basic guitar work, leaving it up to the vocals to carry the song. And once again, this IS Bruce Dickinson, so the song is carried to glory. Like "Book of Thel," this song has a catchy, soaring chorus and a cool wordless chanting section; it ends with a repeat of the pretty cool chorus from the title track with a varied melody. "Jerusalem" is just a beautiful ballad, with intricate acoustic guitar work supporting inspired vocals with lyrics based on the William Blake poem of the same name. The riff which kicks in at 3:36 rocks hard, and the solo section features some great dual lead work.
There's only one real loser on this CD, which is the title track. This is a crappy ballad with a boring intro riff and some stupid echoing guitar riffs under generally repetitive vocals. The only good thing is the chorus, which ends up getting way too repetitive. And that pops up in "The Alchemist," anyway, so there's no real point to this song (except for the "And all the lighthouses/Their beams converge to guide me home") vocal line at 1:56, which is pretty cool).
The other six tracks are all solid tunes. "The Tower" is the best of these, with great paired guitar work throughout and a jaunty, fun drum groove. "Machine Men" is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, and has yet another good, catchy chorus melody. On the downside, "King In Crimson," while a pretty good bit of music with a badass solo, comes across as dragging and low on riffage as the opener. (Actually, none of these songs seem fitting as the first track). And most of "Killing Floor" is just kinda forgettable, apart from the "Sleeping eyes awake..." pre-chorus, which is just creepy.
Overall, though, The Chemical Wedding is a really unexpected bit of solid, epic, and above all inspired heavy metal from a man whose solo career was really just a long series of forgettable hard rock-ish tunes. The main body of the album is good, enjoyable heavy metal, and the highlights are utter fucking highlights. Check it out.
This is the difinitive Bruce Dickinson solo album. On anything Bruce has done, Samson, Maiden, this shows his best vocal work. This is one of those albums where the instruments play around the vocals, and the instruments are not bad either.
To start off with the best and obvious attraction of this album, Bruce's vocals. No where but here are they showcased the best. He sings with range, volume, and length, the chorus' are absolutly amazing. What allows Bruce to sing so well is that it seems the songs were written around Bruces style of singing. Whereas in Maiden I think the style of music writing caters more toward the guitar work. Here though nothing inhibits the full range and natural talent of Mr Dickinson's vocals. They are top notch in every track, and in several stand out above the rest.
Well with an album written around a vocalists style, a logical assumption would be that the instruments take a back seat and are a bit lacking. Well they do tack a back seat to Bruce's singing, and they no where near match the intensity or greatness of the vocals, but they are not lacking. This album has some great guitar work, with tons of riffs and guitars heavier than Maidens...its a nice compliment to the vocal work. Bruce doesn't hog all the attention with his singing, there are parts in songs with long instrumental segments that are quality as well. The bass is nicely done as well, there is alot of volume to the music. It doesn't sound empty or hallow at all, the bass definatly does its job by making the album have a feel to it.
I suppose the only flaw with this album isn't a flaw at all. That is that it would be nice if there were more of a balance with Bruce's vocals and the instruments. There is a chance though, that if that were to happen we would just have a maiden clone...and imperfect one at that since Maiden has some talented mucisians, more so than these ones. So this will never reach the level of Maiden greatest, but it provides its worth on a different level than Maiden by offering something else. The only other thing I can think of is that there are clearly some best tracks on this album such as (Chemical Wedding, Book of Thel, Jerusalem and The Alchemist) that overshawdow the rest of the work, and the rest of the work is good. If the songs were a bit more equal in terms of how great they were, the album would be a great listen all the way through. As it is though...it has difinitive great tracks...then a bunch of good ones. This really is a great album though worth a buy. For any heavy metal fans, or Maiden fans.
Whereas Bruce's prior release, Accident of Birth, proved to the world of metal that the Air Raid Siren and his cohorts, Roy Z and Adrian Smith, could produce quality metal melded with modern sounds and touches of brilliance from his previous experiences, ultimately it didn't have the all round gloss that The Chemical Wedding would show one year on. Weak tracks like The Magician and Welcome to the Pit fell a bit flat next to more advanced and carefully crafted songs like Darkside of Aquarius and Omega.
This 1998 release however, notably coinciding with the god-awful Virtual XI, built upon the staples of AoB and took them to the next level in a flawless combination of heaviness and beauty. The band performance all the more tighter, the songwriting more free-flowing and the soundscapes more dramatic yet all seamlessly blending into this thematic album.
Dextrous four-part guitar harmonies as showcased on The Tower bring back memories of the wonderful intricacy found on the Powerslave album, whilst big stomping epics like the Book of Thel hammer never fail to get me head banging. The perfect chemistry of Roy and Adrian works as well in the studio as it would do later on the live album Scream for me Brazil.
The customary down-tuned riff-driven songs which have become a Roy Z/Bruce staple, such as King in Crimson and Machine Men, are still here, but it's in the more progressive songs like Jerusalem and The Alchemist where The Chemical Wedding really earns it's corn.
Jerusalem you say? Yes. Well a modern day attempt to turn this hymn into a metal 'anthem' does seem rather trite, but it works very cleverly. Building from the folk-tinged guitars and subtle mandolins, to a heavy backdrop of rousing chords and solos until finally fading out with the jangly mandolins; whereas The Alchemist, starts with a flange-heavy guitar number, showcasing Bruce's best vocal performance on the album, then beautifully drifting into a reprise of the chorus of the title track to end the album.
Some may startle at the spoken speech between tracks, but they add to the uplifting experience that this album gives....perfect listening time.
I usually never believe an album deserves a full 100% unless it is really something far beyond this world. Well basically "Chemical Wedding" is just that. All of the songs are lush, diverse, exciting, and maining very emotional. This album comes straight from the heart of its creators, with the bulk of the tracks being conceived by Roy Z/Bruce D. Adrian Smith also plays a huge role in the guitar duties. Chemical Wedding is a breath of fresh air for the Metal world and i think every metal fan should own this special classic. Not a dull moment with this one. Mixing tons of different lyrical themes, from religion, to ancient history, there is something for every open minded man or woman.
Bruce puts out his best performance since "Seventh Son", and his music is well thought out in its structure and riffage. David Ingraham's Pshycotic skin beating is interesting and complents what the other musicians are doing perfectally. Eddie Casillas also does a fine job in the low end section, providing plenty of depth to each and every moment of this album. Nothing is overdone on here which is something most bands can't say about their record when producing it. It works to Dickinsons advantage indeed and i can't complain about one instance on here which displeased me. Both Roy Z and Adrian Smith do fucking killer jobs on their 6 strings, maintaining perfect melody, while being abit flashy at the same time. It would take me all night to dictate to you how incredible this record really is and how much it means to me. I actually prefer this album to some Maiden albums (I know most of you Maiden pureists will be shaking your fists) but this is far more accessable than No Prayer, Fear of the Dark, Virtual, and The X Factor to name some.
If you enjoy a good Maiden album but want that added swift kick to the balls this is definatly the pick of your life. The Chemical Wedding is a Flawless album that begs not to be ignored. This is True music from "True People". I just wish more albums could be this good.
Best Tracks : Entire Album
I'm a Chemical Wedding fanboy. Ever since I found out that Bruce had a solo career (hey, none of us were always metalheads) this has been my choice album of his. The riffs are punishing, crushing, head-kicking, *insert other brutalizing verb here* and basically everything here rocks my world. Let's rumble.
First off is the first of the satanic tracks here, called 'King In Crimson.' This was my favourite song for about a week after I heard it because it crushed me. I love the vocal work here, even more venomous than on AoB (I know!). I cannot help myself from singing along here in my most raspy metal voice. Adrian Smith is here again with Bruce, and as always, he cleans up. Roy Z. is a wicked guitarist in his own right, but, if you've read my Maiden reviews you know I'm a huge Adrian fan, and I love the work he did on this album. Two juicy solos live in this song and they both rule. Awesome vocals about Satan (obviously the "King In Crimson") taking people away and all the evil stuff that he does. I absolutely love the end... "To your window I come... at your window I COME!" so evil. Awesome opener.
Track 2 is the title track, 'Chemical Wedding.' Wicked vocal work here, with some soaring singing on the chorus. This one might be a little repetitive, but not enough to get annoying. Another great track.
Track 3 is called 'The Tower.' Neat-o bass intro here, and the lyrics are... different, I guess is the best way to put it. I don't know if I'm totally crazy about this track, the riffs don't really smack you around at all, but the solo section is nice. Average track, but still pretty good. The end is sweet.
Track 4 is another nice Satan track called 'Killing Floor.' Bruce doesn't even try to hide the fact that he's singing about the Dark Lord in this one, since he says SATAN! about 10 times, and the (sweet) video has the devilish one himself messing around. I love the lyrics in this one "You've never been held by the hand of god... who's rocking your cradle... if he is not?" Oooh, that's evil. So metal too. I love the way Bruce is so melodic and soft, but sooooo evil at the same time. Then he just yells SATAN! Nice solos here, and the riffs are back to beating on you. Interesting slower and softer piece for a bit with some nice chanting style stuff from Bruce, and then we pound back into some headbanging riffage. Great track.
Next up is a long, but VERY good song called 'Book Of Thel.' Haunting intro with some cool guitar interludes leads us into some whispering from Bruce, and then.... BAM!!! Into a big-ass, heavy, crushing riff. Another fade-in/cutoff effect like used on AoB, and we're off! Very venomous vocal work from Bruce again on this one, he is in total control of this song. Very cool instrumental part in the middle, and some more solos. The end of this middle part is extremely well done. The solo comes to an end and there is some wicked drum fills, and the song comes to a halt... then, on the hi-hats... 1-2-3-4!!! Back into the heavy riff. I absolutely love how they do that. The song fades out with some spoken words, and 8 minutes later, we're done. I love this song.
Track 6 is 'Gates Of Urizen.' This one is slow and melodic at the beginning, but gets heavier halfway through. This is a fairly straightforward and mostly unremarkable song, but also very solid.
Track 7 is called 'Jerusalem,' which is a ballad of sorts. Starts off with a rather Celtic-toned guitar piece, and some nice vocals from Bruce singing about England. This song gradually builds and has some heavier moments, but is usually fairly mid-to-slow paced. Near the end it gets rockin, but the vocals are heartfelt and calm throughout. We end with a similar Celtic-style guitar bit that sounds great, and some more spoken words.
Track 8 is back to full-on metal with the song 'Trumpets Of Jericho.' This thing slays. The intro riff is heavy and the drumming is sweet. More awesome lyric work here, and we speed up slightly after the first chorus, and the verse is quick and very headbang worthy. I love the way Bruce sings "The trumpets of JERICHOOOOOO" his control is awesome. Another repetition of the verse/chorus and we're dropped with a nice solo and some cool stuttering instrumental work and then a very nice little bridge section with some heavy-ass riffing. Evil laugh! And then another nice solo. Tons of variation here, a nice kick driven part leads back into another verse and chorus. This one fades out with another solo... great track. Very metal indeed.
Second to last is the Dickinson/Smith penned track called 'Machine Men.' Very venomous stuff from Bruce here for the most part, and Adrian licks and solos throughout. Very nice heavyness at the end as Bruce holds some notes. More pounding and some string scratching and this one pounds through a fade-out. Solid track.
Finally we have 'The Alchemist.' Weird sort of intro (kinda reminds me of something off of 'The X Factor' *shudder*) but thankfully it gets heavyer after a bit. Solos early on in this one, and there is some nice vocal work with a slower section, and it fades out. After a long break, there's some more talking, and that ends the album.
So yeah, basically this album does no wrong. Parts of it are a bit weaker than others, but, just as with Accident Of Birth, nothing begs to be skipped. Bruce really hit the jackpot with this and AoB. They are truly both essential pieces of true metal, of which little was to be found throughout the 90's. After this one, Bruce took a little break and then rejoined Iron Fucking Maiden, and we all know where they are now. Hopefully Bruce stays with Maiden this time... but if he has time to do another wicked solo effort, I'm sure nobody will mind. Highly recommended.
It's a decent album, but unfortunately nothing really grabs you by the throat and forces you to listen... that's really the problem with it, that the riff work definitely took a turn down from Accident of Birth. There's nothing here like the title track that instantly reminds of Iron Maiden. The whole thing just sounds unfocused and overlong.
It's a pretty brilliant concept, but unfortunately the execution is really straightforward and really boring. Imagine the title track to The Number of the Beast with its awkward chorus, times a lot... that's how it is. "Satan! Has left the killing floor." Meh. It just sounds out of place... and most of the songs sound this way. Whatever good qualities are built up in the intros and the verses tend to be destroyed by the horrible choruses. "It's our chemical wedding day....." Again, meh.
So what we have here is an album that succeeds on some fronts, and fails miserably on others. The production is also pretty modern, which means heavier than Accident, but the thing is - Bruce isn't known as a balls-out crusher, and his vocal style doesn't go well with a Machine Head guitar tone. Also, the core songwriting is a bit lacking, and the whole album just sounds like a mishmash at times.
"The Chemical Wedding" in my opinion is one of the greatest albums by one of the greatest artists, Bruce Dickinson. It follows the same vein as "Accident of Birth" (heavy metal) and the opening track "King in Crimson" is no exception. It then moves on to the title track, which is slow paced but still great. "The Tower" is yet another mind-blowing track. "Killing floor" the single released in Japan, has an interesting use of medieval-type instruments. "The Book of Thel" is the first of 2 epics- both of which have a narrative aat the end of each, tying in with its religious-type theme. "The Gates of Urizen" is my favourite track, with a bassline that reminds me "Ghost of the Navigator" an Iron Maiden song from Brave New World, their latest studio release. "Jerusalem" is the last epic, of around 7 mins, with a slow-yet-heavy feel, just like the title track, devloping slowly thoughout the track. It contains the religous theme in it heavily. "Trumpets of Jericho" has a heavy, low-chord start, that shows that Bruce's solo work is much heavier than Maiden, which is led by Steve Harris. It also makes a reference to the bible story, the walls of Jericho. "Machine Men" has an intro that would sound great on a church organ, with some excellent background vocals with the main. "The Alchemist" has an eerie start, with the warping of Bruce's voice. The track is also the slow type, but that just makes it all the more better. At the end, the chorus of the title track is added before a strange 3 minute silence, then followed by the last narrative about "a vegetable world on my toe", which is strange.
All in all, I enjoyed this album, which shows just how much freedom Bruce has on his work. A classic by all means.
This album is an apocalypse. This is what many heavy metal bands who are either still stuck in the eighties or are trying to innovate by bastardizing metal should try to reach. This album is beyond words. It sounds so warmly familiar, yet so excitingly new!
The production is very heavy, which may turn some of you old-schoolers away, but keep listening! There's much more than crunch to this album. The acoustic guitars and the small spoken samples are beautiful and really build the atmo needed. You can't miss out on this gem! The compositions are very diversed and inspired (some seem to dislike Killing Floor and Machine Men - I love 'em). This isn't an album with 2-3 great tracks, 4-5 ok tracks and 1-2 fillers. It's a musically dense album, which takes you on a trip for about an hour. Yes, you have to listen to it time and time again until you get it. Yes, you appreciate it more as a whole rather than isolated songs. But that's the stuff great albums are made of?
The lyrics, inspired by William Blake's poetry and Bruce's intrest in alchemy, are probably the best Mr. Dickinson has ever sung. It's sort of a theme album, in which what alchemists tried to achieve through different combinations of metals (the creation of gold) symbolises the search for our other half, our soulmate, a combination with whom will turn us both into something greater, "gold". Like all great concept albums, this theme is very subtle and open to interpratation, the lyrics aren't too clear.
The artwork from the booklet is also rearranged William Blake paintings. I pitty the person who likes heavy metal and doesn't have this album.
The japaneese edition had the bonus track Return Of The King while the S. America edition had the bonus track "Real World" (also available in The Best Of Bruce Dickinson 2cd edition)
As far as the lyrics are concearned, they are the best Bruce has ever sung.