Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding review
|Album:||The Chemical Wedding|
|Release date:||July 1998|
01. King In Crimson
02. Chemical Wedding
03. The Tower
04. Killing Floor
05. Book Of Thel
06. The Gates Of Urizen
08. Trumpets Of Jericho
09. Machine Men
10. The Alchemist
11. Return Of The King [Japanese bonus] [expanded edition bonus]
12. Real World [Brazilian bonus] [expanded edition bonus]
13. Confeos [expanded edition bonus]
Heavy Metal is diverse, Bruce Dickinson is diverse and if by natural cause The Chemical Wedding is diverse, too. Not only compared from song to song, even the songs in themselves are diverse, but still sounding natural and not edited. The last release before reuniting with Iron Maiden is strong, dark, mystic and evil, at the same time progressive, calm and full of surprises.
Hammering off with 'King In Crimson' a strong and evil heavy composition you might think, that's what it's going to be about, but this way you're thinking is not diverse enough. 'Chemical Wedding' the album's title track is starting of slow and peaceful with some cool effects you might think you're walking through distorted waters under an acid coloured sky with fog arising from the sea. Then starting the overdrive guitars it's some cool and relaxed song, which could become your friend in hours of loneliness and desperation, for it has a warm tone that will embrace your ears and set you into the mood to very willingly listen further even if you had to go through hell and back! Next is 'The Tower' with interesting bass and drums, very progressive and dark at the same time, somehow much colder and more technical than the song before. The irregular beat can drive you crazy. In general at times the sound tends to make you lose your mind because it's on the one hand full of sound effects on the guitars and microphones, on the other hand it might seem clear, but you cannot divide the instruments from each other anymore washing the colours of it's sound into a whirl and mixture. That's when you're deep inside the record, lost in the sound and driven to far away places unable to go back… Chemical Wedding has caught my attention so much that when I listened to it the first time, I found myself taking the cd out of the player three weeks later for the very first time again to listen to something else. 'Killing Floor' comes quite aggressive. 'Book Of Thel' the real masterpiece of fine metal is one of the best examples of the great diversity of the album: A slow and disturbing guitar intro, yet featuring another guitar with a beautiful solo line, emerging into some strong and aggressive riffing and stomping rhythm. Dickinson singing quite high, especially in the chorus, with driving bass and a quicker riff. Very mystic lyrics, dark and evil and a bit disgusting too… definitely not only something to bang your head to but to think about and create pictures in your head, and then a break down to only bass, oooh that's a deep fall, very surprisingly, transforming into an instrumental part with solo and after some drum fill Bruce Dickinson's voice doubled in some desperate choir of moaning souls in hell, after that driving to another break of breaks with short but hell of fast drum fills. If not divided into many parts you could have thought of a drum solo, but that's not it. Already 6 Minutes going you're coming back to the bridge and chorus which is mounting til the end of the song, breaking it down again to some drum fills and the disturbing guitar sound from the beginning, which turns out as piano and then some narrative part telling you of the upcoming track 'Gates Of Urizen' ending after eight and a quarter of amazing minutes.
The folling song is some kind of mid-tempo song with great solo guitar lines, in a whole very calm again, but dark and mystic as the other songs. 'Jerusalem' surprises as it sounds some medieval ballad, with acoustic guitars and electric guitars played like some ancient instrument. Once again not forgetting to let the tension mount with drums on the lyrical lines: 'Bring me my bow of burning gold, bring me my arrows of desire, I shall not sleep til the clouds unfold, bring me my chariot of fire'… Soon after the sound will veer round to distortion guitars only, building the lyrics up on some mystic utopia, fascinating until it all fades out into some ancient rhythmic part with narrations again.
Dark riffs and hazardous drums characterize the next song 'Trumpets Of Jericho'. 'Machine Man' is rather cold and unfriendly, hard to explain, but somehow it shows that the album itself has gained control of the listener and wants to clearly state that it's the master or god of the listeners mind that is made totally dependent on the sound and lyrics… very special and complex feeling. 'The Alchemist' is not free of complexities either. Ever felt like you came out of a air-conditioned hotel into a future technology world of conctrete and steel on a day on which you see a bronze burning sun above through a brown, orange and yellow sandstorm? Yes, but I feel like this everytime I listen to 'The Alchemist', so very strange. Not to forget the surprise before the chorus is last repeated for two times. The melody seems so familiar and in the end you will know, when you hear the chemical wedding reprise… then a few minutes silence to the outro narration.
As mentioned you will find lots of effects used on the guitars and microphones, giving the Chemical Wedding a progressive touch. Dark sound and unusual songwriting make this a very individual work, a real large gap to what Iron Maiden sounds like. The dark and dull sound and the gloomy, deadly & hollow atmosphere do their best to contribute to that. The lyrics sound as if they were copied right away out of the unholy scriptures, capture the most of the time very empty feeling, warm and comforting sounds you can only expect from the 'Chemical Wedding' and 'The Alchemist' songs. The disturbing paintings of William Blake that inspire the whole record add perfectly to The Chemical Wedding, expressing more mystic and confusing feelings that led you go mad at the end. Only the narrative parts harm the flow of this record but enhance again to it's mysterious touch, so you never know where you're really at. A 9.0 for an album with 5 major highlights and an impact on me that I have never come across before, I know this review may not be free of contradictions, but the album itself isn't free of them. Your feelings towards it may change throughout the process of listening which makes it such an experience in the end and all you can do is start over again, yet with the aim to get to understand it and if not you will listen again and again, forever…
|To me, listening to Bruce Dickinson is like being with an old friend, as it was he and Iron Maiden that got me into Heavy Metal at the tender age of 13... So, I was more than thrilled when this album featured not only Sir "Air-raid siren" Dickinson but also his former band mate and one of the best guitarists of all time, Adrian Smith. As you would expect, Bruce doesn't screw around; from the first second of the opener 'King in Crimson' you know what you are going to get: heavy, classic, melodic metal that has stayed true to itself. To top it all off, Bruce adds the perfect amount of darkness and mystical lyrics (based on the writings of William Blake).
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