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Finally! After many years, Bruce Dickinson records another solo album - A Tyranny of Souls. Well, this record is very, very different from its predecessor, The Chemical Wedding. The songs are shorter (no epic numbers here, all the songs are less than 6 minutes long) and much heavier (in my opinion, TCW is a much softer record).
Bruce is brilliant here, he still has an immense and outstanding voice. Just listen to the way he sings on the chorus of the title track or in Abduction: amazing! I also like the way he sings on the ballad Navigate the Seas of the Sun. One of the best metal singers ever.
Roy Z also delivers a pretty good performance; he shares the songwriting of all the songs with Bruce and his riffs are heavy and somewhat "modern" (he reminds me a bit of Zakk Wylde). Definitely, he has not the same style as Adrian Smith and Dave Murray and that marks the difference between this record and the predecessor: on TCW you could clearly hear Maiden influences here and there, but on A Tyranny of Souls the sound is completely different. So don't expect this album to be a Maiden CD under a different name. Roy Z proves to be a fantastic producer too, the sound is clear and everything is well mixed.
The drumming on The Chemical Wedding was amazing: the drummer had a style that was reminiscent of Nicko McBrain (and that definitely is a good thing!) and his beats were complex and creative. Unfortunately, Bruce hired another drummer to record this CD; the new one's name is David Moreno. He is less technical, but his patterns are ok and don't harm the whole sound. I especially like his performance on Believil (the soft and mysterious beginning), on Abduction (good fills) and on River of No Return (double bass! whoa!).
A traditional metal/rock artist that knows how to deliver a consistent performance. The bass work is inaudible on some songs and solid on others.
As I've already said, all the songs are heavy and straight-forward. The good thing about this is that all the songs have excellent choruses: from the addictive one on Power of the Sun, to the beautiful one on Navigate the Seas of the Sun.
The album is also varied:
-There is a ballad: Navigate the Seas of the Sun,
-A typic rock song: Devil on a Hog,
-An almost speed metal one: Abduction,
-An atmospheric intro: Mars Within,
-A pop-ish one: Power of the Sun, etc.
The weaker track is, as many other reviewers said, Devil on a Hog because of the slightly repetitive chorus but, actually, the song isn't that bad.
Although there are no masterpieces here, I will name a few stand-outs now.
First I'd like to say that you MUST listen to the first two tracks as a whole! Mars Within is very atmospheric, it begins slowly, then becomes heavier and when you think it will fade away, there's a fast drum fill and a raw riff kicks in, courtesy of the fantastic Roy Z, marking the beginning of Abduction, the single of the album. Bruce Dickinson begins to sing and then we are lead to the chorus, which is accompanied by a very good riff. The drumming is very dynamic, the solo rules and the song is fast and energetic. After the solo, Bruce repeats the chorus and the track ends. A very good song.
Kill Devil Hill is another stand-out: a very strong track, which also has a mellow ending, that sounds amazing.
Navigate the Seas of the Sun is the ballad of the record. Although it isn't the best ballad Dickinson ever written (see Tears of the Dragon), it's a very well done piece, with acoustic guitars and an inspired and emotional solo.
The other stand-outs are the last tracks: Believil and The Tyranny of Souls.
Believil is a mysterious tune, with some atmospheric ingredients and a fantastic beginning.
The Tyranny of Souls has 2 or 3 different sections. The tune begins with a slow and evil guitar riff; after that, Bruce begins to sing very softly and then there is a crescendo that leads us to the chorus. After it, the slow riff returns, this time accompanied by a simple drum beat. The chorus is sung again, and a heavier riff is played, the song becomes a bit faster, and the guitar solo begins, a very tasteful solo in my opinion. The chorus returns and the album ends.
The Power of the Sun also deserves a honourable mention, as it is a very solid song.
Best moments of the CD:
-the transition between Mars Within and Abduction;
-the beautiful and uplifting ending of Kill Devil Hill;
-the fascinating beginning of Believil;
-the guitar solo and the final chorus of the title track.
Concluding, this is an enjoyable record, with an amazing production and full of catchy and addictive tunes. The musicians deliver good performances, especially Roy Z and Bruce Dickinson. However, I miss the epic songs of The Chemical Wedding. Definitely a solid album, but not a masterpiece.
The cover is very good too, as it fits the dark mood of some of the songs of the record (especially Believil and The Tyranny of Souls).