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Bruce Dickinson - 'The Mandrake Project'

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Dickinson, sounding on top form throughout, is the quintessential ringmaster in a jaw-dropping dystopian circus filled with fabulous curiosities... just superb!

How best to sum up the ever more engaging enigma (both musical and otherwise) that is Bruce Dickinson? Born in Worksop in Nottinghamshire back in 1958, he’s obviously best known as the powerhouse vocalist with the mighty Iron Maiden; yet, you can add broadcaster, author, airline pilot, brewer, international standard fencer, philanthropist and entrepreneur to an ever growing list that makes him anything but the stereotypical Heavy Metal frontman, caricatured by the likes of ‘Spinal Tap’ and ‘Bad News’.


After his first stint with Iron Maiden ended following 1992’s ‘Fear Of The Dark’ opus, Dickinson threw himself into a solo career that yielded a string of great “thinking man’s Metal” albums with producer/ guitarist Roy Z (Tribe Of Gypsies), creating an eclectic musical landscape and thought-provoking lyrics inspired by such luminaries as Romantic poet William Blake, and taking you to places you were never likely to discover with Iron Maiden; the brilliant ‘Accident Of Birth’ and ‘The Chemical Wedding’ (from 1997 and 1998 respectively) are absolutely essential in my book.


Obviously, his solo ambitions were curtailed when he re-joined Maiden in 1999 – thus far only 2005’s ‘Tyranny Of Souls’ has added to his tally – but the “comeback” he’s been talking about ever since Covid (and planning for years before that) is finally about to hit the streets. Entitled ‘The Mandrake Project’, and with a series of comic books planned as a tie-in, it once again sees Dickinson collaborate with Roy Z.


Kicking off with the brooding majesty of ‘Afterglow Of Ragnarok’ – if you haven’t already, go check out the brilliant video on YouTube – it’s an album bursting with energy, ideas and ambition. Moody, and at times (like all of his post ‘Tattooed Millionaire’ releases) quite Progressive leaning, the lilting melodrama that unfolds across its ten tracks is akin to grabbing yourself a grandstand seat to a supernova! From the Bowie-esque ‘Face In The Mirror’ to the slow-burning epic ‘Sonata (Immortal Beloved)’ which closes the album, through the thumping ‘Many Doors To Hell’ (which has a rousing riff akin to the Scorps) or the scathing ‘Eternity Has Failed’ (which first appeared in a different form as opener on Maiden’s ‘The Book Of Souls’), this is a thrill-a-minute ride you’ll never want to end.


Dickinson, sounding on top form throughout, is the quintessential ringmaster in a jaw-dropping dystopian circus filled with fabulous curiosities... just superb!


 

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