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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.