Bruce Dickinson must be feeling on top of the world at the moment. He retains his legendary position as the frontman in one of the world’s most popular heavy metal bands and his latest solo album is intense, exciting and forceful.
Like Iron Maiden‘s last album, the excellent Dance Of Death in 2003, Tyranny Of Souls is much darker than those that have come before, filled as it is with black and moody lyrics about the macabre.
Just where did Dickinson find the time to record it though? Since his reunification with Maiden for their terrific 2000 comeback album Brave New World, he has been busy with his old band touring the world for its promotion and everything else after it.
It comes as no surprise that Tyranny Of Souls was placed on the back burner for a bit while Maiden’s 2003 follow-up opus occupied much of their hectic schedule for over a year, so Dickinson wrote this album’s lyrics while he was on that long stretch of road. Conveniently though, Tyranny Of Souls is released alongside expanded reissues of stuff from his solo CV.
And now the band are touring festivals around the world in celebration of their exceptional DVD release The Early Years. It seems like there is no time to stop and take a breather even for the mighty lungs that Dickinson is famous for.
Not only has Dickinson been busy but the noticeable talents of the album’s producer, Roy Z, has been in full flight with Halford‘s (Rob Halford’s solo band) underrated work and the awesome 2005 Judas Priest comeback album Angel Of Retribution.
Like Halford’s monstrous Resurrection creation in 2000 and its 2002 sophomore release, the sombre but heavy Crucible, Tyranny Of Souls hinges on old school British metal but with a darker, faster American flavour. There is a contemporary twist with staggered, quasi-thrash metal riffs but a firm 80s metal strength.
Devil On A Hog is a terrific edgy track and Abduction is a storm trooper with its hefty armour and scary demeanour. Soul Intruders is probably the most Maiden-like song on the album with its galloping riffs and tight rhythm section.
River Of No Return opens with a firm riff and remains just as secure and intimidating. The title track is a great way to end the album with a slow build up before a volcano of harsh sounds erupts and flows into action.
The weakest song on the album is a slower effort called Navigate The Seas Of The Sun – an ineffective ballad that seems out of place amongst its meaner siblings.
Tyranny Of Souls is a fine album that demonstrates two things. One: it shows that Bruce Dickinson is a great metal icon. And two: that the album is just as much about Roy Z’s exceptional talents as Dickinson’s song-writing skills and vocal power.