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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.