Bruce Dickinson - Tyranny Of Souls
Sanctuary
Heavy Metal
10 songs (43'35)
Release year: 2005
Bruce Dickinson, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Marty
Major event
After Iron Maiden's Dance Of Death tour, Bruce Dickinson sought out long-time collaborator and producer Roy Z to put together ideas he had for another solo album. In the middle of producing the new Judas Priest album, somehow Roy managed to find the time to help put together Bruce's first solo record since 1998's The Chemical Wedding and his first album to be released since rejoining Iron Maiden back in 1999. The Chemical Wedding was a monumental album and is arguably his best album to date. Accident Of Birth is a close second as far as I'm concerned but the song writing, subject matter and eerily heavy sound made The Chemical Wedding a landmark heavy metal album. I would even rate it much higher than some of the Maiden albums after Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. I firmly believe that the strength of the material on the Accident Of Birth and The Chemical Wedding albums as well as the fact that Maiden was on a downward spiral as being important factors in the reunion of Bruce with Iron Maiden. Besides Roy Z who not only produces the album but contributes all of the guitar work, Bruce gets help from David Moreno (drums), Ray Burke and Juan Perez (bass) and the mysterious Maestro Mistheria on keyboards (no-one's quite sure who this really is...). With Tyranny Of Souls, Bruce pretty much picks up where he left off with The Chemical Wedding and delivers another great album that has elements of both the Accident Of Birth and The Chemical Wedding albums as well as other solo works. The darker and eerie heaviness is prevalent throughout the album and lyrically, it deals with a broad range of subjects ranging from death and the afterlife to the exploration of space. The writings of Hans Hemling were very inspirational as well with the cover art being an artistic interpretation of Hemling's vision of hell.

Mars Within (intro) gets things going and we see the return of the flanging guitar effect that gave The Chemical Wedding such an ominous sound. Bruce belts out the lyrics over foreboding guitar riffs and it sets the tone for the album. Suddenly, Abduction comes ripping out of your speakers with a killer, thrash-influenced guitar riff, a heavy, driving sound and amazing vocals by Bruce. A video has been filmed for this song and it's the first single to be released from the album. The killer heavy metal punch continues with Soul Intruders which combines U.S. power metal styles, especially with the double bass drumming, a little of the Maiden influence and a killer chorus. Relentless in it's attack, the onslaught continues with Kill Devil Hill. With ominous and heavy riffs, this one has an epic feel to it even though it's not of epic length. The chorus is what really takes you by storm and Bruce's soaring voice for the chorus section makes me think that Steve Harris would've immediately confiscated this one for later use on a future Maiden album if he'd heard it before being released. The combination of the heaviness for the verse sections coupled with the lighter feel for the soaring chorus are a perfect fit. The more I listen to this track, the more I believe that it may be one of the best songs that he has done yet on all of his solo releases. To top off an absolute killer track, the song ends with a cool piano melody with acoustic guitar fills to the fade out. Navigate The Seas Of The Sun is a cool acoustic flavored number that really reminds me of classic Uriah Heep from the 70's. A catchy track both in melody and lyrical content, it deals with the aspect of our future as a race and the need for us to explore and colonize space in order for us to survive. As Bruce puts it, we are all experiencing "Death by gravity" by throwing ourselves to the mercy of our slowly dying planet. River Of No Return uses a mix of quieter sections for the verses with heavier parts for the chorus and sounds a bit like the arrangement for Infinite Dreams from Maiden's Seventh Son album. Power Of The Son is pure Iron Maiden from its energetic riffs to the soaring chorus and could've easily been used on a future Maiden album. Bruce revisits his Tattooed Millionaire days with the track Devil On A Hog with it's straight ahead hard rock style and more of an AC/DC guitar sound. The Chemical Wedding gets revisited with the track Believil. Dark and disturbing, the flange guitar is used again over a drum machine for the intro with Bruce's quiet depiction of evil. The track alternates between the foreboding intro like sections and heavier ones for the chorus. The title track, Tyranny Of Souls finishes the album and again we are treated to another killer track that mixes quieter and heavy sections with an amazing chorus augmented by nice guitar harmonies layered over top. This track is a perfect mix of melody and heaviness and tops off the album quite nicely.

Although not quite up to par with either Accident Of Birth or The Chemical Wedding, Bruce has delivered another solid album. What initially seemed to be a "rushed" sounding album and one that appeared to be seriously lacking in quality compared to his previous two albums, quickly disappeared after repeated listens. There's a certain degree of simplicity with Tyranny Of Souls that makes it quite special. The album has 10 tracks and clocks in at just under 44 minutes in length. Bruce has done a fantastic job of arranging the songs to make them all unique and effective without overdoing them. Tyranny Of Souls has all the heaviness of his previous two albums (and more) but seems to be more focused on getting his point across with shorter songs. With Bruce's solo albums, there's usually only a hint of the Iron Maiden style. It's hard not to venture into Maiden territory with his voice but he keeps the music darker and heavier with more of an ominous Black Sabbath tone that is not typical of the Maiden sound. Fans of Bruce's Accident Of Birth and The Chemical Wedding albums should be more than satisfied with Tyranny Of Souls as well as the Maiden fans. It's rumored that one of the songs from this album will be featured on an upcoming Ozzfest promotional CD for the bands playing Ozzfest this year and not an Iron Maiden song. Do you think Maiden will ever play one of his tracks live??....one can only hope. I think one of the conditions that brought Bruce back to Maiden was that he was to keep his solo albums and the style of material for himself and write more "Maiden friendly" material for future Iron Maiden albums. It's too bad as the combination of Iron Maiden's trademark sound infused with a little of Bruce's solo style would yield phenomenal results. It would be the very thing to breath new life into Maiden. I doubt it will ever happen....we can only dream..............

Killing Songs :
Abduction, Kill Devil Hill, Navigate The Seas Of The Sun, Power Of The Sun, Believil and Tyranny Of Souls
Marty quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Bruce Dickinson that we have reviewed:
Bruce Dickinson - Balls To Picasso reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Accident of Birth reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Skunkworks reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Tattooed Millionaire reviewed by Ben and quoted 69 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Anthology (3 DVDs) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
To see all 8 reviews click here
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