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A Step Back for Bruce - 65%

BotD, July 12th, 2006

I really enjoyed the last Bruck Dickinson solo album, Balls to Picasso. Not exactly metal, it still managed to impress with top notch riffs and Dickinson's always pleasing voice. Skunkworks keeps the latter attribute while atrophying considerably in the former. The guitar on this album seems noticably mild and mostly forgettable. Blame lies on both the songwriting and the production.

The lack of distinctive guitar riffs contributes significantly to the main problem facing this problem: the songs all sound regretfully similar. The album opens with one of the better songs in the slightly goofy Space Race. Up next is the first of the batch of terribly alike songs with Back from the Edge. As the paragon of these songs it provides a template for the rest. Unfortunately, when he strays from this sound, Bruce comes up with offal like Dreamstate and Headswitch. Or perhaps I am wrong and it just the near complete lack of captivating, mind-enchanting songs that allow each track to blend together.

Octavia sounds like a tribute to the grunge bands of a few years before, which is actually a good thing for this album. The album does end on a good note with Strange Death in Paradise. Thankfully, after this album Dickinson has purged himself of these musical vagaries and returns to his metal heritage.