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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.