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Through the oily serpent's kiss - 75%

autothrall, April 25th, 2010

Accident of Birth was the 4th solo album from Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, released at a time his alma mater was courting Blayze Bailey unsuccessfully in the vocal department. Unlike previous albums Tattooed Millionaire or Balls to Picasso, Dickinson seemed intent on returning to his metal roots with this release, rather than bland radio rock. Joined by former Maiden axe slinger Adrian Smith and a trio from the Tribe of Gypsies (including his good friend and producer Roy Z), he set out to make that a reality with a set of tunes which made the horrid Virtual XI laughable by comparison.

"Freak" is a strong opening track with a big, driving groove rhythm to the guitar (sure to please both the grunge metal advocates and those that had been missing Bruce's presence in the realms of heavier rock). The song has an interesting groove/breakdown with a dirty lead and vocal samples, but also a few touches of classic NWOBHM melody. The brief, psychedelic guitars of "Toltec 7 Arrival" lead into more 90s groove metal in the form of "Starchildren" (similar to stuff Roy Z would do with Halford), but Dickinson's cutting vocals keep it from going all out Alice in Chains. "Darkside of Aquarius" and "Road to Hell" are two of the stronger tracks on the album, very much what I'd like to think Maiden would be writing in this mid 90s period if Bruce was still in the tribe. Pure metal with good licks and excellent vocals.

For the latter half of the record, I favor the orchestral touches of arena rock that alight upon the "Man of Sorrows", the angry title track with some excellent, if brief, wailing lead guitars; the groovy "Welcome to the Pit" with its catchy chorus, and the classy "Ghost of Cain". Other tracks like "Arc of Space" feature some great vocal performances, but the music simple did not sink in.

Along with its successor The Chemical Weapon, this represents the better of Dickinson's solo work, and superior to most of what Maiden was producing, even when Bruce rejoined a few years later (okay, with the exception of a few tunes like "Wicker Man"). The mix is killer and still sounds fresh today, and the writing is diverse enough to incorporate traditional metal elements, with glistening ballads and then-modern heavier groove rhythms (the success of these riffs varies, but Dickinson's vocals almost always save the day). It's a pretty tight record, though not essential like his 1982-1992 period with Maiden.

Highlights: Darkside of Aquarius, Road to Hell, Man of Sorrows, Ghost of Cain


Heavy Metal found its' leader once again! - 99%

evermetal, November 19th, 2009

When I first got into hard music, I listened to bands like Guns n’ Roses and Bon Jovi and I really liked them. But then came Iron Maiden. I still remember the feelings I got when I listened to The Number of The Beast and Piece of Mind. I especially liked their singer, Bruce Dickinson that soon became my favorite vocalist and a true worship, unmatchable with any other singer. When he left Iron Maiden I felt I lost a piece of myself. With “Balls To Picasso” I felt that piece next to me but “Skunkworks” came to tear it apart. Bruce was no longer with me and I felt really bad about it. Some years passed and heavy metal worked its way on me, still a side of me remained unsatisfied. Until the God of metal returned!

With simple words, Accident of Birth is perfect! Bruce hasn’t sung and expressed himself like this since the Seventh Son… album. After all his experiments failed he decided to take himself for serious and working with his old mate Adrian Smith and Troy Z of Tribe After Tribe he created a unique album that can be compared only with his best moments in Maiden. Was it an urge or a necessity one may wonder? To be honest I really don’t care as long as he is back on the metal track. In this album Bruce composes epic songs, either singing furiously-the way we loved him-in heavy metal thunders, or giving us incredible moments of peace with his exquisite ballads. At times the music reminds a bit of Maiden but how could it be otherwise since the songs are under the signature of Dickinson-Smith? Okay, Dave Murray is a tremendous guitarist but Smith is way better than him both composing and performing. Troy Z is also very good on the guitar and he has made a very good job on the production as well. I must also give credit to the bassist and drummer that play their asses off.

The album kicks off with Freak and a strange guitar intro that makes you unaware of what is about to come. An explosive riff shutters the speakers and the sense of pure metal fills the air. The bombastic drums drive into merciless headbanging and Bruce’s unmistakable voice causes delirium. A brilliant break in the middle makes it even more charming. A perfect way to start!

Toltec 7 Arrival is just a small atmospheric theme that works as a path for the killer track called Starchildren. The guitars are heavy as fuck, thrusting their way to your brain, so simple yet amazing and the steady rhythmic playing of the drums and bass push the song forward towards perfection. The chorus is particularly catchy and you’ll find yourself singing along many, many times.

Taking the Queen enters with beautiful acoustic guitars and Bruce’s mesmerizing vocals but soon things get rough with hard guitars and aggressive singing through many clever breaks. Very, very nice! As the song fades out we suddenly pass to a six-minute epic by the title Darkside of Aquarius. Galloping guitar and drum paces characterize this song and its marvelous solo proves that Smith is one of the best guitarists in heavy metal. A small serene passage calms things down before the rhythm blasts off again leading to a great finale.

Number 6 on the list is the album’s best track, Road to Hell. Four minutes of genuine metal it is. The dynamic drums set the pace for this awesome metal blaster as the storming riffs leave you no space to breathe and the band is delivering a superb performance all the way. I believe this song could fit into a Maiden album for sure.

The first ballad of the album is Man of Sorrows and it’s truly wonderful. Bruce’s vocals are accompanied by beautiful piano lines. His singing is so emotional and warm, bloody hell I love the man! His voice sends shivers down my spine. The violin tunes in the background give their own tone to the song and I classify it among the best ballads in metal, along with Tears of The Dragon. Bruce manages to give his best in this kind of balladry.

The self-titled track is another diamond in the albums jewel-case. It is strong and heavy, with many changes in rhythm, blistering and devastating. The lyrics are very inspired, explanatory of Dickinson’s state. “Welcome home, it’s been too long we’ve missed you, welcome home to your brothers and sisters”. Welcome back to metal Bruce! We all hail your return!

The Magician is probably the catchiest song of Accident… It has a very entertaining, groovy rhythm and a more hard rock rather than metal feeling. I find it very easy to listen to; it’s arousing and enjoyable and measures up to the standards of the album. Welcome to The Pit is the only song that falls flat. Though it is not bad, it loses points compared to the rest of the compositions. It’s slower, more atmospheric and dark but I suppose Bruce knows better.

Just before the end we get the semi-ballad called Omega. The strange title has nothing to do with this beautiful song that features excellent guitars and melodic vocals that lift it even higher at the chorus and an explosive break in the middle. This leads us to the closing track, Arc of Space. A nice composition performed with acoustic guitars creating a peaceful climate as we have finally reached the end. Now you can reach for your remote control and push the PLAY button again. I have done so several times with Accident of Birth!

The emperor of metal has returned to his throne and we, his humble followers have no right to question his dominion. Thank you Bruce!

Journey Back to the Metal Side - 86%

thatcoltkid, March 26th, 2007

Here we go, Bruce's 4th album in his solo career. Before this he went for more of a hard rock sound and outside of a few rememberable songs he really didn't make much of an impact. In 1997 however, he went back to his heavy metal roots that made him a star in Iron Maiden and he came out with this amazing album, Accident of Birth.

The first thing you'd notice about this album is it's very cool and cartoony album cover, much like Iron Maiden put out during the 80's and this is mainly because the artist is none other than Derick Riggs, the man who created all of Maidens album covers during the 80s. Another high point of this album is not does Adrian Smith (also from Maiden fame) perform on this album, he also composes some of it. His sound is easily heard and you don't need to read the writing credits to found out what songs he penned.

But of course the biggest thing about this album that grabs your attention is the music itself. Picture Iron Maiden's sound only heavier and modern. You'll also notice the high amount of ballads found on here (4 out of 12) which is a bit of a surprise considering Iron Maiden almost never perform ballads however Bruce and co. perform them amazingly. The lyrics on this album are very thought provoking and almost every song on here is filled with amazing amounts of emotion. The solos performed by Smith and Roy Z are also amazing and add a lot of feel to the songs.

But like almost anything Bruce Dickinson has been involved in, the highest point of this album is Bruce's vocal performance. Every note he sings is filled with tons of passion. The heavier songs Bruce sings with a lot of anger without ever sounding over the top and during the ballads he sings in a slow, soothing and very moving style in which you can really feel the emotion the songs hold.

We start off with the fast and powerful Freak, out side of a heavy riff and a catchy chorus this song does leave a lot to be desired, however it is still a pretty good way to start off the album. After a weird interlude we jump straight into Star Children which is a great number with an amazing chorus, the only problem is it's too short.

We slow things down for a bit with the ballad Taking the Queen, the first minute and a half is soft until it explodes into another great chorus then we go straight back into the soft verse until we close with that chorus again, much like Star Children this songs biggest flaw is that it's too short and this song could've been so much more.

Here comes the climax of the album, where we are treated to 4 of the best songs in metal in a row. First off we get the albums epic number Darkside of Aquarius, it is another song with a soft opening until the riff kicks in, borderline thrash here people. The chorus is mind blowing then we get to the songs break, which is probably the best bit of the entire album, the song slows down again for a bit until the riff kicks in again. The rest of this song is a great sing along bit which sounds brilliant on the Scream for Me Brazil live album.

Road to Hell is a fast Iron Maiden like rocker which is catchy as all hell and you will be singing along to it within your first listen, it served as the closing track on Scream for Me Brazil and boy what a closer.

We then hit Man of Sorrows, along with Darkside of Aquarius, this is the greatest song on this album, it's a slow depressing number which is very heart wrenching, this is perfect metal ballad and it never sounds cheesy at any point despite the high piano usage.

Then comes the title track, Accident of Birth. It has a very dark opening riff and Bruce's vocals suit the scene perfectly, it has some very thought provoking lyrics and you can the anger in every single note of the song, the chorus is pretty sweet too.

After the past 20 minutes of pure awesomeness we get The Magician, it's not a bad song by any means, however it simply doesn't live up to the past 4 songs. Although it's chorus is out of this world. Here comes the albums low point, the only sub par song on this album known as Welcome the the Pit. If this song was on Balls to Picasso or something like that it wouldn't be that bad, it just sounds nothing like the other songs on here at all and it's simply out of place.

The album ends with 2 ballads, the first being the albums other epic known as Omega, the first half is slow and calm and the second half explodes with power (much like Jerusalem on The Chemical Wedding), this is another great song and it makes up for the average Welcome to the Pit. We finally close with Arc of Space, a very moving acoustic number filled with tons of emotion and mind blowing lyrics. There couldn't of been a better way to end this album and they struck gold here.

All in all this album is amazing and a must for metal heads everywhere, it has it's minor flaws, but the great tracks make up for it big time. And who would've thought that Bruce would out do himself with his next album?

No accidents here - 93%

SteveDT13, October 22nd, 2006

When I picked up this album, I had no idea what I was in for. This was the third Bruce Dickinson album I've bought, after Tyranny of Souls and The Chemical Wedding. Don't let the album cover fool you, this may be the best thing Bruce has ever put out. The album does have its weakpoints, but I assure you the rest of the album is so great that after a few listens, the weak points serve as a change of pace to keep the whole album fresh. The only songs that appear to be flawless are Darkside of Aquaris and Arc of Space.

Freak is a great opening track, although the intro is a bit out of line. After that intro, there is a thrashy riff that leads into a verse whose lyrics have more energy than anything I've heard from Bruce. The chorus is a little weak, and after the bridge (which is as good as the verses), the chorus is repeated until the song is over. I want to avoid overanalysing every song on the album, but this song pretty much sums up what you are about to hear. Amazing music from Roy Z and infinite energy from Bruce are the building blocks of this album

Toltec 7 Arrival is a short intro to Starchildren. The track is nothing short of amazing, even though it is so short, it sets the mood perfectly. Starchildren isn't great, the chorus is pretty weak but the verse riff makes up for it. Many people will tell you that Taking the Queen is a bad song, I mean it isn't great but it is a really nice piece that leads into the next track, which is Darkside of Aquarius. This song is reminiscent of Book of Thel, for those of you who may have heard The Chemical Wedding. This may be the best song on the track.

Road to Hell is another solid track, although not as good as Darkside of Aquarius. Honestly, I don't think Man of Sorrows is that great of a song. If you read the other reviews, people will tell you how amazing it is, but I think it is a little overrated. The guitar solo makes up for the rest of it. The title track, Accident of Birth, could have been better. There is just no strong point in it, but the intro is pretty cool. The Magician on the other hand is another great solid song. The chorus really stands out with some of Bruce's amazing vocal work. Welcome to the Pit is probably the worst song on the album, I will almost always skip this track when listening to the album. The Ghost of Cain is like The Magician, the chorus might not be as good, but the bridge makes up for it.

The last two songs on the album, Omega and Arc of Space, are in a completely different league from the rest. They are both about the apocalypse, but Arc of Space is all acoustic, and may be the best Bruce Dickinson song period. You'll have to hear for yourself to know what I mean.

After listening to this album a few times, you'll find yourself coming back to listen again and again. Even after you become literally sick of this album, you will still want to hear Darkside of Aquarius and The Magician. If you have enough money to buy one CD and don't have this, GET IT! If not, sell a kidney or whatever you have to in order to buy this. If you have any money left from that, buy whatever Bruce Dickinson albums you don't have.

Bruce's Best - 80%

BotD, August 3rd, 2006

Bruce Dickinson finally gets his stuff firmly together and, most importantly and most definitely, returns to the genre that made him famous: metal.

Joining the Air Raid Siren again, Roy Z shows his amazing guitar chops and production skills. One of the best decisions Dickinson ever made was teaming up with Ramirez.

Accident of Birth does everything I require of a good metal album, a few outstanding numbers intermixed with other cuts of varying quality, but nothing that is mind numbingly putrid. The album starts with "Freak" and "Starchildren", two songs that will (and should) not enter the annals of metal classics but carry some decent riffs and overall start the album nicely. "Taking the Queen" is a slight misstep. Of the ballads on the album, it just fails to work.

After that, we get what we have waited four albums to hear finally, Bruce retiring the idea that he must sufficiently differentiate from his old band Iron Maiden. With "Darkside of Aquarius," we come to the first highlight of the album. This would not be out of place on a Maiden album in sound and most assuredly quality. Following this same line of thinking, "Roadside to Hell" is one of the rockers Iron Maiden does so well.

I can’t elaborate on the praise given to "Man of Sorrows." I can only reaffirm it’s status as the best thing Bruce has done in his solo career. I weep, I cry, and when it is over, I have to hear it again.

The title track continues the streak of quality of the last three tracks before the album dips into mediocrity until the end. "Omega" is another winner and "Arc of Space" is a beautiful acoustic ballad. Truly, a paragon for how to write a ballad and how to use acoustic guitars in metal, "Arc of Space" is a fitting closer.

Highly recommended for Bruce’s fans (who isn’t?) and for anyone that likes a nice slab of traditional metal.

The Return - 85%

pinpals, April 2nd, 2006

Bruce Dickinson returned in 1997 after his failed project "Skunkworks" with an album that was pure heavy metal. Roy Z. is back as producer and guitarist and he has a great guitar tone that is significantly heavier than anything Maiden had done or was doing at the time. Adrian Smith was brought in to do a few solos, but his impact on the album is minimal as he doesn't do much songwriting and Roy Z can out-shred Adrian any day.

The album starts out with "Freak," a song with a good chorus and an insanely head-bangable riff and the solo is short but sweet; great opener. Then there's an oddly placed intro/instrumental with Toltec 7 Arrival which leads into the unremarkable "Starchildren," with that annoying clanging (cowbell?) in the background. "Darkside of Aquarius" has another strong riff and a slightly over-the-top chorus that winds up working out very well. There's some incredible shredding by the Smith/Z combo before going into a quiet, melodic interlude. After this the song goes downhill with the "Gotta move" section; which is not only weak, but it repeats for about two minutes, hurting an otherwise great song. "Man of Sorrows" is one of the greatest ballads ever written. Roy Z has an incredibly emotional solo and Dickinson delivers one of the best vocal performances of his career. The strings and piano only add to the already breathtaking atmospere. This song is worth the price of the disc alone. "Omega" is a semi-ballad that starts out quiet but builds up to a impressive solo section in the middle, another highlight of the album. Normally I'm not a fan of acoustic songs, but "Arc of Space" is so good it is impossible to imagine the album ending in any other way, one of the greatest acoustic songs ever written.

On the other hand, "Taking the Queen" is a fairly unremarkable ballad and "Road to Hell," "Welcome to the Pit," and "The Magician" are throwaway rockers. "The Ghost of Cain" isn't that great either. On the remastered version, "Ghost of Cain" is included on the second disc so that it seems like a bonus track but don't be fooled. The remastered version is a waste of money because the original version sounded so great to begin with. The demos are a waste of time. "Starchildren [demo]" has "Toltec 7" added on to the beginning, but that's the only substantial difference between the originals and the demos.

Still as a whole, the original version is essential metal for anyone. It is nearly as good as "Chemical Wedding" although I still rank this slightly lower, mainly because of the large number of weaker, possibly filler songs. This album owns anything released by Maiden during the Bayley years, and the fact that he was able to top this with Chemical Wedding is a testament to the chemistry that Dickinson, Z, and Smith have together.

[Edit: I've lowered the grade somewhat because even while the good songs still are very enjoyable, the poor songs really hurt the consistency of the album.]

Best Of The Bruce - 94%

Slinky, December 25th, 2002

The unquestionable return to form of the former golden voice of Iron Maiden. Bruce Bruce after the first 2 [i]average[/i] albums outside of Maiden, finally got his shit together and realized he was born for heavy metal. It is really difficult to pinpoint a single element as to what made Bruce get back to business. Many argue it is the [i]depression[/i] he encountered as a result of not succeeding commercially in his previous solo efforts, and just not being happy with himself. Although, if I were to put my money down, I would definitely put it on addition of Adrian [b]H[/b] Smith. What really makes this album truly slay, is quite simple to see for the long term fans of Bruce, is that you can just feel the emotion present throughout, as though it is your best friend speaking to you, giving you all he has got. RoyZ is solid, I really like his emphasis on the guitars in his production, and the chemistry is just evident throughout between the band members, as everyone is right on the spot. And this exactly is it, the [i]accident[/i] of an album, as it seemed no one ever expected, from a man with nothing to lose.

1. [b]Freak[/b] – The opener has some really nasty riffage going on in the beginning. As the return of the crisp RoyZ production makes it return. This song is actually I would consider one of the weaker tracks on the album, but in reality it just falls being solid/good. I especially love the lead break, and Bruce’s melodic lines, and the chorus seems to be okay. The problem is the instrumental part, which seems a bit too rough and unmelodic. However, still the song quite simple rocks, and this kind of speed that is present on this album, is not found on any other Bruce’s material including Chemical Wedding. 8/10
2. [b]Toltec 7 Arrival[/b] – The introduction to the terrific Starchildren, is also really good, the spoken part is really effective in setting the mood for the following song as well as the sounds also sound really cool, however, I can not put a clear rating on this track simply of inadequate length time (37 seconds).
3. [b]Starchildren[/b] – Now this is what I am talking about. The song picks off right away after Arrival, and I love the main riff, as well as Bruce, this dude is all money. This song also illustrates great lyrical support, something that is clearly evident throughout the album. Something that also to the mood, is the guitar solo which was I believe done by Adrian also sounds like something of an experimental nature, but rocks like hell. 9.5/10
4. [b]Taking The Queen[/b] – Slowing the things down a bit, but what a song! The soft beginning is just so touching, yet the chorus quite simply burns, and just sends shivers down your spine. The guitar work is exquisite as well, and as well you can hear a light synth sounds present, mainly during the chorus parts. This also leads in just incredibly to the following song, kind of also creating concept album feel with many transitions such as this one. 10/10
5. [b]Darkside Of Aquarius[/b] – The intro guitar lines are so overlooked, yet are very powerful. The starting riff also leaves you knocked into your seat, and your neck unwillingly starts moving. Again, the guitarwork just simply slays, and I think the production adds to it beautifully. Now the whole song is simply terrific! BUT! I want to overemphasize the quiet guitar part that leads into incredible break, you know the “Come to push the wheel for me..” This just is incredibly and is among my favorite parts of all time. And when the heavy guitars come in. :drool: I can not listen to this part without feeling feelings I have never heard before, and then another melodic break.. and OH OH OH !! Simply stunning. I never thought mankind is capable of producing a song of this magnitude in the supposed [i]dead metal age[/i]. :finger: 10/10
6. [b]Road To Hell[/b] – After the breathtaking ending of the previous song, comes a fairly straightforward rocker, but, it is actually really an excellent one at that. The drumwork really reminds me of Nicko’s style (and I’m not really a fan of that). However, you can tell this song is written by H and Bruce without even looking at the song credits. The Maiden sound is present throughout this baby, and it simply rocks, also the chorus is fairly simple, but is very catchy and easy to sing along to. Again, the guitars are truly killer. 9.5/10
7. [b]Man Of Sorrows[/b] – A Bruce only song, is of course nowhere near the glory of Tears Of The Dragon, but neither did I expect it to be. I actually really like this as well, the only problem I feel, is the a bit too quick of a drum intro about 30 seconds into the actual song. Otherwise, the piano work by RoyZ is excellent as well as the guitar parts, which are not really emphasized to give the song the special feeling it needs to have. 9/10
8. [b]Accident Of Birth[/b] – Ho ho ho ho .. Holy shit. This song absolutely burns. From the beginning to end, truly one of the best moments of metal, and is my 2nd favorite BD song behind of course the predictable Tears. (For the record Aquarius is top 5). The lead break just makes you wanna tear something apart, it’s that powerful and just plain sick. :666: The lyrics are quite haunting as well, “Jesus had his day off when they pulled you through..” I think Bruce is onto something. Again, can’t describe this song in greatness, listen to find out, I’m sure most of you already did. 10/10
9. [b]The Magician[/b] – Another quite a smoking rocker, that sounds nothing I have ever heard before, pretty much like any song on this album. The riff and actually the whole song is very catchy and quite melodic too, which makes it another solid number. Nothing much really to say aside from it continues the consistency of the album perhaps only broken off by the next song. 8.5/10
10. [b]Welcome To The Pit[/b] – This is really a weird song, as it is closely resembles absolutely nothing from this album. Surprisingly this was co written by H and Bruce again, but has no real speed, no real melody, just sounds quite brutal (for Maiden anyway ;) ). Really strange, and I am not really a fan of this style either, it just sounds plain weird. This style is also evident in 2 songs on the next album in Killing Floor and Machine Men. Not my cup of tea. 6.5 - 7/10
11. [b]Ghost Of Cain[/b] [i][JAPAN & U.S. Bonus Track[/i] – The bonus track, but a killer one as such, as it picks off where the Magician left off, and just makes me forget about the Pit.. :sniff: Great melody, mid paced song. Really like this one, and is actually among my real favorites off of the album. The riff work after the vocal parts are really cool, as well as the main riff sounds sick as well. Great track, somewhat simple but oh so effective. 9/10
12. [b]Omega[/i] – A really powerful number this one is. The 2 line chorus sticks in your head, and does not ever go away. It is another [i]slower[/i] number, very thought provoking lyrics as well. The instrumental sections really add to the atmosphere set by Bruce’s powerful voice. I really can’t stress enough, how important it is for the people to hear songs such as this, or hear them again, but with more attention and perhaps a different approach. Because, simply words, will never make an impression this song leaves on you. 10/10
13. [b]Arc Of Space[/b] – So we have come to a final conclusion. And an acoustic/voice only song. But, really good one at such, and just flows brilliantly after Omega. Perhaps this also arguably represents the Climax of the album, however, Omega seems a bit more perspective in that respect. However, Arc delivers what we have not heard before again. With beautiful chorus lines from the man, and terrific acoustic work throughout. This song just leaves us in much emotion and new feelings, as we have witnessed the return of the king. 10/10

Welcome home!!! - 77%

UltraBoris, December 14th, 2002

Awwwh yeah, this is what Maiden should have been sounding like. Well, at times anyway - it is not a perfect album and at times tends to be quite boring, but when this album is on, it is dead on....

"Freak" and "Starchildren" are two fairly average midpaced songs. They really aren't amazingly memorable, but are not bad. The weak part seems to be that the chorus doesn't immediately grab you and cut you to bits. (This would definitely become a problem on the NEXT Bruce album.) Then, we have the softer "Taking the Queen", which leads up into the absolutely incredible "Darkside of Aquarius".

Set phasers to BANG!! Fuck yeah, the main riff in here is fucking nuts. Total thrash metal here. The best song on here. This section is the strongest part of the album... from tracks 4 to about 9. "Road to Hell" is a bit simpler, more straightforward, also a winner. Then, we have the awesome "Man of Sorrows". One of the best ballads Bruce has ever done - this is the second coming of "Infinite Dreams" here. The piano bits add so much to the song, very well done.

Next. Repeat BANGING INTERVAL!!! "Jesus had his day off when they pulled you through!" Title track! Total Fucking Iron Maiden here... amazing song. "The Magician" is also quite nice, but a bit weaker... then we get "Welcome to the Pit" which really doesn't go anywhere, and "Capturing the Ghost of Cain", which has some decent verses and a totally over-the-top chorus that just doesn't quite work. Not bad, just not great. "Omega" and "Arc of Space" conclude the album, and both are solid but unspectacular - decently cool ballads, but not nearly as great as Man of Sorrows. Okay, that kind of thing is once in a lifetime, you can't expect two like that on the same album...

So what we have here is half of an unmitigated classic, sandwiched between some forgettable songs. The middle part of this album is incredible, showing a variety of songwriting strengths from flat-out speed metal monsters to great ballads. Definitely worth getting, when all is said and done.