Bruce Dickinson has announced he is to release a new album. It will be his first since 2005’s Tyranny Of Souls.
The Mandrake Project arrives early 2024.
Iron Maiden fans are excited as Bruce Dickinson announced his 7th solo album will arrive in 2024. The Mandrake Project was announced along with a handful of live dates announced for Brazil and Mexico and there is a promise of more dates to be announced.
In anticipation of new solo material from The Air Raid Siren, we have a look back at the legendary singer’s back catalogue and select his best cuts (in our opinion).
ACCIDENT OF BIRTH (ACCIDENT OF BIRTH, 1997)
‘Welcome home! It’s been too long we’ve missed you!’ goes the first line of the chorus. It certainly feels a little like that with Bruce announcing his new album.
Accident Of Birth was Bruce’s third solo album and saw a return to the more traditional metal sound many associate with the great singer. Here, the band sound amazing and Bruce sings his ass off.
INERTIA (SKUNKWORKS, 1996)
A song featured in, and about the war in Sarajevo in the 1990’s. Skunkworks is a bit of a black sheep amongst the Bruce Dickinson discography in that the musical stylings changed a lot. Dickinson originally wanted to call the band Skunkworks but quite a few people dissented. Whichever way, Skunkworks is an experiment in a shift towards more alt-rock and grunge. Intertia is a track that really stands up though; certainly for the lyrical content and the lengths that Bruce Dickinson went to to play for people in Sarajevo. The cover art was created by the legendary Storm Thorgerson.
LAUGHING IN THE HIDING BUSH (BALLS TO PICASSO, 1994)
This is a song that definitely came alive in the live arena. On Scream For Me Brazil, it is one of the definite highlights and a brilliant ‘heads down’ rocker. The chorus is immensely catchy and is a song that should be sought out by any fan. The song is reportedly about a bush that Bruce’s son used too hide in in their garden.
Balls To Picasso also contains plenty of other great material including Hell No and Tears Of The Dragon.
BOOK OF THEL (CHEMICAL WEDDING, 1998)
Possibly Bruce Dickinson’s finest solo moment. In the late 90’s, Bruce Dickinson’s solo output was better than the Iron Maiden material that was being released. It is no surprise that the two parties ended up reuniting and going on to create what we know as modern day Iron Maiden. Book Of Thel features some incredibly heavy guitar work and lyrics that not for the first time in Dickinson’s solo career reference Macbeth. Plus, Arthur Brown adds spoken word lyrics to help create a brilliantly brooding and dark piece.
ROAD TO HELL (ACCIDENT OF BIRTH, 1997)
The Dickinson/Smith partnership flies again after striking so much gold in Iron Maiden. Road To Hell is one of the songs that many people would include within a retrospective of Bruce Dickinson’s music. The solo here is top notch, and the lyrics and thematic feel of the song feel like a bit of a pre-cursor to Iron Maiden’s return with The Wicker Man.
DIVE! DIVE! DIVE! (TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE, 1990)
Dive! Dive! Dive! is pure AC/DC worship in more than the musical sense. Bruce has a raspy vocal style that he carried into the Maiden albums of 1990 (No Prayer For The Dying) and 1992 (Fear Of The Dark). Seaman Staines is the naval person namechecked in the lyrics which read like they could be some sort of Viz! sponsored Comic Relief single! It is quite an infectious piece and also features the then ‘new’ Iron Maiden guitarist, Janick Gers.
CYCLOPS (BALLS TO PICASSO, 1994)
Cyclops opens up Bruce Dickinson’s second solo effort and his first post-Maiden. It represents another shift in sound with a guitar motif at the start that Korn would later use on Freak On A Leash (although this writer is unsure if it played any part in influencing the nu-metal masters).
From the off, you can hear that Bruce is trying to break the shackles of Iron Maiden and do something different. It might not be to everyone’s taste but Bruce still sounds absolutely superb on the song. His voice shifts from melodic and sinister singing to a heavier shouted style on the chorus. It says a lot about where Bruce wanted to go on his own, and the next step of Skunkworks developed this before a more traditional return on Accident Of Birth in 1997.
STARCHILDREN (ACCIDENT OF BIRTH, 1997)
Absolutely no messing around on Starchildren, here. Straight out of the blocks with heavy guitars, solid drums and Bruce sounding inspired. This album saw Dickinson do a small promo tour of record shops in the UK. I was lucky to see Bruce, Adrian Smith and Roy Z at X-Records in Bolton; to see such an iconic act up close was truly something special (although it was only acoustic).
Still, Starchildren is another Bruce Dickinson’s finest solo cuts. ‘You don’t need a God, ‘cos I’m here now,’ sings Bruce. You’d be hard pressed to disagree with the way that this track leaves its mark.
NAVIGATE THE SEAS OF THE SUN (TYRANNY OF SOULS, 2005)
Bruce’s last solo album came in 2005 after he had re-joined Iron Maiden circa 98/99. With Brave New World and Dance Of Death out there with Maiden, Bruce returned to his solo work with Roy Z.
Navigate The Seas Of The Sun is an acoustic led song that shows a softer side to Bruce’s style. Whilst there is a softer side, Bruce still manages to cut through in his singing to produce a great vocal that teeters on the verge of exploding but Bruce adds restraint to create an excellent piece for one of the best bits of Tyranny Of Souls. Then, there is the soaring solos and Spanish style lead lines. Again, Bruce clearly wants to satisfy the musical itch he perhaps couldn’t scratch with Iron Maiden.
KILLING FLOOR (CHEMICAL WEDDING, 1998)
One of the heaviest songs in Bruce Dickinson’s canon. The sound is immensely dense at the outset. It calms as Bruce sings the verses, however the cries of ‘SATAN’ send a chill down the spine in a way that only Bruce Dickinson can. There aren’t many other singers that can produce so much drama in their voice as Bruce Dickinson. Adrian Smith sounds immense on guitar, as you would expect. The video is very daft; take a look if you want to see Adrian Smith pelted with a lettuce during a food fight.
ABDUCTION (TYRANNY OF SOULS, 2005)
Abduction is an absolute stomper from Tyranny Of Souls. It is breakneck with stunning solos, catchy vocal hooks and a pace and punch that screams ‘single.’ The accompanying video heightens the sense of corruption, cover ups, conspiracy and terror at the core of the songs content. Bruce has never been shy of his more dramatic side!
TRUMPETS OF JERICHO (CHEMICAL WEDDING, 1998)
Trumpets Of Jericho opens up 1998’s Chemical Wedding record. The guitar tone and intro has a sinister menace and shows from the off that the album is going to be heavy. With the chugging guitar intro, you might think you’re listening to a Slipknot song which shows that Bruce clearly kept his finger on the pulse of what was coming to the fore at the time. Beyond that, the song is classic Bruce. It is atmospheric, dark and heavy as hell. The chorus is euphoric in its delivery and again Bruce just makes the song complete with his dramatic tones. Again, Roy Z and Adrian Smith deliver amazing guitar work.
In all honesty, every song from Chemical Wedding could have made the cut here as it is definitely the high point of Bruce’s solo output.
I’M IN A BAND WITH AN ITALIAN DRUMMER (SKUNKWORKS B-SIDE, 1996)
Now as far as lyrics go, this is daft as hell. It is a homage to the bands then drummer, Alessandro Elena. Actually written by bassist Chris Dale, the song is definitely a spoof and sees Dickinson almost rapping…it is tongue in cheek, full of cliché, and an absolute Frank Zappa rip off. But you know what, everyone needs a laugh every now and then. It continues the puerile theme that Dive! Dive Dive! showed earlier in his career. I guess you could call this one a bonus pick!
Check out the teaser from Bruce Dickinson’s newly launched Instagram account to get a little flavour of what the sound of the album might be like. You can keep an eye on tour dates here.