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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.