Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding

Jer

My sins are many
@giratina asked me if I’d ever posted song commentaries on The Chemical Wedding similar to the ones I’d done for the Maiden albums, and I hadn’t, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.
  • King In Crimson - Sparse drums and downtuned guitars break into a growling ascending riff. Bruce joins in with his own growling yet melodic verse vocals. A brief descending vocal break returns to the bounding verse, then a rising pre-chorus lifts off into the lofty chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then we break into a sweet melodic lead and a pair of blistering solos. One more return to the pre-chorus and chorus takes us into an aggressive breakdown of an outro that leaves us breathless. A great start to a great album. 8/10.
  • Chemical Wedding - Heavy, droning guitars give way to a warbling guitar lead reminiscent of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”. Bruce delivers a calm verse vocal that breaks into a soaring chorus. A return to the opening guitars and verse leads into a new heavy pre-chorus that builds back into that sublime chorus. A stately neoclassical lead circles back around to the chorus, which takes on some variations that reach new heights before resolving into a bittersweet denouement. Not perfect, but that glorious chorus does enough to round this up to a 9/10.
  • The Tower - A bounding bass line is joined by a descending guitar lead that sets the tone for the rest of the song. A soaring verse buffeted by falling guitar harmonies gives way to a lower pre-chorus that builds tension before breaking into a chorus that fully takes flight. Another round of verse through chorus, and we cut into a rhythmic breakdown followed by a fantastic solo and a great extended melodic break with glorious guitar harmonies falling like rain. One more return to the chorus, and a reprise of the rhythmic breakdown takes us to an abrupt end. Stunning, almost flawless. I’ll round this up to a 10/10.
  • Killing Floor - An aggressive opening riff breaks into an odd rhythm supporting a creepy, catchy verse. A brief rhythmic break returns to the verse before giving way to a more ethereal pre-chorus, then an unfortunately shouty chorus delivered on top of the verse rhythm. This cuts into a bluesy solo delivered on top of busy riffing that eventually breaks into a fantastic neoclassical interlude with classy “whoah-ohs” from Bruce. This abruptly dives back into the intro riff and another round of verse through chorus before ending on a nice bluesy guitar outro. A track with a number of great parts, but the weak chorus holds it back to a 7/10.
  • Book Of Thel - A haunting bass intro with a bluesy guitar lead is joined by percussive accents before cutting into a rollicking riff supporting a wordy verse. The pre-chorus kicks things up a notch, building tension before breaking into a soaring chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then a brief bass interlude leads into a great solo on top of a busy rhythm section before breaking into an extended chorus of harmonized “whoah-oh”-ing Bruces. Another smoking solo leads into a percussive interlude before rolling back into another run of verse through chorus. This breaks into an extended chorus 2, which gives way to a haunting piano outro, leading into narration which introduces the next track. Almost perfect, I would also round this up to a 10/10.
  • Gates Of Urizen - A soft, ghostly introduction leads into a haunting verse and a similarly calm chorus. A melodic lead carries us back to the verse, which now breaks into a heavy, soaring version of the chorus. An extended bluesy solo brings us back around to the heavy rendition of the chorus, ending on a soft vocal outro with decaying guitar. Straightforward and powerful. 8/10.
  • Jerusalem - Bruce’s new musical arrangement of the classic poem begins with soft guitar and a calm verse vocal. A brief interlude carries us back to the verse, where strumming guitars and bass join in. A third verse brings in the drums before breaking into a more upbeat pre-chorus 1 and 2. Another round of verse and pre-choruses builds into a melodic interlude followed by a blazing solo and a sweet harmonized section, then another great solo, before finally breaking into the one and only chorus. Melodic “whoah-ohs” lead into Bruce’s final cry of “Jerusalem!”, then mandolins carry us out into a final narration. A superb track, with only the awkwardness of the verse vocals holding it back a bit. 9/10.
  • Trumpets Of Jericho - A downtuned staccato riff leads into a growly verse. A brighter pre-chorus breaks into a chorus that almost takes off, but doesn’t quite get there. Another round of verse through chorus leads into a great solo followed by a sparse interlude, then descending guitars offer a different take on the verse, ending in a cackle. An OK solo leads into a brief interlude before rolling back into another round of verse through chorus, finishing with some vocal riffing and soloing that fade into the distance. A pretty good track that doesn’t quite rise to the standards of the rest of the album. 7/10.
  • Machine Men - A descending guitar lead cuts into a grinding riff supporting a growly, catchy verse. An instrumental-only pre-chorus breaks into a soaring chorus with interesting guitar accompaniment. A brief interlude rolls back into the verse, then a pre-chorus with vocals this time, before building back into the chorus. A great solo leads into a beefy extended rhythmic interlude, followed by another smoking solo that brings us back around to the chorus before finishing on a reprise of the rhythmic interlude with growly vocals. Some people dog on this track, but I love it. 9/10.
  • The Alchemist - A queasy guitar intro supports alternating distorted and clean vocals, leading to an interlude that carries us into a soaring midtempo verse and chorus. Another round of verse through chorus carries us into a great ascending solo, followed by a calmer interlude with layers of harmonized Bruces. This breaks back into the chorus, which eventually tapers off into a musical interlude that circles back to a lighter rendition of the chorus from “Chemical Wedding” in a different key. Glorious. (Patient listeners can wait another few minutes for a final narration.) Another superb track. 9/10.
Average: 8.6/10

A fantastic album that tops everything in the Iron Maiden catalogue other than Seventh Son and Powerslave, IMO. Even the weakest tracks on offer here are still pretty strong. Bruce offers one of his best vocal performances on this album, and Adrian and Roy Z. make for a potent guitar duo.

We had never heard anything quite like The Chemical Wedding before it was released, and we haven’t heard anything quite like it since. We can only wonder what this band might have cooked up next if Bruce and Adrian hadn’t rejoined Iron Maiden.
 

GhostofCain

Ancient Mariner
We had never heard anything quite like The Chemical Wedding before it was released, and we haven’t heard anything quite like it since. We can only wonder what this band might have cooked up next if Bruce and Adrian hadn’t rejoined Iron Maiden.

So true. This album was the perfect marriage between classic and modern metal. One of my favourite albums of all time.

As much as I have enjoyed Maiden’s material and tours since Adrian and Bruce rejoined the band (AMOLAD is a top 5 Maiden album as far as I am concerned), I sometimes wonder what could have been the follow up to The Chemical Wedding had Bruce and Adrian not rejoined Maiden.
 

giratina

Educated Fool
A fantastic album that tops everything in the Iron Maiden catalogue other than Seventh Son and Powerslave, IMO. Even the weakest tracks on offer here are still pretty strong. Bruce offers one of his best vocal performances on this album, and Adrian and Roy Z. make for a potent guitar duo.
I agree that this is a phenomenal album, better than most Iron Maiden albums. IMO all the songs are great except for Killing Floor and Machine Men which are not bad, but not too good either, but both have some great parts.

It is disappointing that Iron Maiden didn't manage to release any album as good as TCW after the reunion..
 

Kalata

Out of the Silent Planet
It is disappointing that Iron Maiden didn't manage to release any album as good as TCW after the reunion..

BNW is a better album than TCW imo.

AOB is the best solo album from Bruce. I also like TOS more than TCW.
 
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Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
BNW is a better album than TCW imo.

AOB is the best solo album from Bruce. I also like TOS more than TCW.
You must not be very keen on alchemy and romantic imagery ("romantic" as in mental illness, Blake, Shelley, absinth and syphillis, not bunches of roses and heart-shaped chocolate boxes ; ), which would explain that.
I tend to get bored very quickly myself with the theme of war, that is why A Matter of Life and Death, though very popular on this forum, is among my least favourite Maiden output. ;)
 
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Kalata

Out of the Silent Planet
You must not be very keen on alchemy and romantic imagery ("romantic" as in mental illness, Blake, Shelly, absinth and syphillis, not bunches of roses and heart-shaped chocolate boxes ; ), which would explain that.

TCW is a good album but I happen to like AOB and TOS more. In fact, I think TOS is a better album as a whole than AOB - AOB has some not so good songs (Freak, Welcome To The Pit and Starchildren), while the only bad song on TOS is Believil imo. But the best songs on AOB are better than the best songs on TOS.

TCW is probably a personal favorite album of Bruce - very heavy album, one of the best albums from the 90's. My favorite songs on it are: The Tower, Gates Of Urizen and Jerusalem (the title track, Book Of Thel). Every song is good without King In Crimson, Killing Floor and Trumpets Of Jericho imo./ The bonus song Return Of The King is killer (I wish it was on the album).
 
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