With 1997's Accident of Birth, Bruce Dickinson returned to the top of the heavy metal food chain. And it isn't to see why that album was so successful. It combined the right characteristics that a popular metal record would need, and mashed them all together, creating an excellent atmosphere that satisfied fans all over the world. For his next studio effort, Bruce once again called up Accident of Birth's successful guitarist tandem, Adrian Smith and Roy Z. In 1998, Bruce Dickinson released The Chemical Wedding worldwide and once again, it was very well received. Once again, Bruce had shattered all expectations to create an album that might even be better than the previous one.
The Chemical Wedding's sound is very similar to the previous album. Very heavy, yet at the same time, melody is still incorporated into the formula. Many of the songs, such as King in Crimson or Killing Floor, are driven by aggressive, yet at the same time well thought out riffs. These riffs are very fitting with the some times angry or violent lyrical themes that are present. However, The Chemical Wedding still differs from Accident of Birth. On tracks such as the title cut, Machine Men, or The Alchemist show a more melodic side or Bruce Dickinson. These songs are generally my favourite off the album, as they combine both the melody and heaviness I crave. Professionally written and recorded, Bruce Dickinson once again pours his soul into his music, and the result is spectacular.
Aside from the insanely pathetic vocals that Bruce attempted to use on Iron Maiden's No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark, has Bruce Dickinson have let fans down with his vocal efforts? Looking back, there may be a few black eyes on Bruce Bruce's illustrious career; however he has generally come up big song after song, album after album. The Chemical Wedding is no different. Once again, Bruce makes good use of his gifted voice, only this time I feel he puts in a better performance than on Accident of Birth. Songs like The Chemical Wedding and The Alchemist really show case his skill, and are very powerful. Just as it was in the past and is today, Bruce dominates during the several choruses on the album. Again, these choruses are not only very powerful, but they're also very memorable. Not too many metal singers stick out more than Bruce Dickinson does during a chorus, as the range he showcases is incredible. No surprise here, but still refreshing to listen to.
Whenever I think of Bruce, I always think of some intellectual type person. Perhaps it's his knowledge of literature (sometimes referred to as Conan the Librarian), or some of his lyrics in songs such as Out of the Shadows, Brave New World, and Revelations. Whether or not Bruce is an intellectual or not, The Chemical Wedding once again shows his knowledge. Bruce's lyrics are very much inspired by both poet William Blake (which he quotes from time to time, most notably after minutes of silence in The Alchemist) and that of sciences such as alchemy & related topics. The themes of alchemy and chemistry make themselves present in some of the songs. This influence is most obvious in the album's title track during the chorus. For some reason, as I listen to it, it seems as though it has a chemical feel to it in the background. Excellently produced by keyboards, this is a small, yet at the same time notable element in the song which I really enjoy.
Before Bruce got back together with Iron Maiden in 1999, he released two essential metal albums. The Chemical Wedding is one of those albums, and definitely the better of the two. Once again, Bruce Dickinson delivers, through songs like The Chemical Wedding, The Alchemist, The Tower and Machine Men. It may be a little difficult to locate, but if you get the chance, by all means, pick it up. It's definitely one of the best metal albums of the late 90's. The cover art is much better this time around too…
The Chemical Wedding