21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2000
Format: Audio CD
While Iron Maiden was being faced with mixed results with their non-Bruce albums, Bruce Dickinson was enjoying a lucrative solo career that proved proved he was not only a tremendous heavy metal vocalist, but a solid songwriter as well. That said, Chemical Wedding is the peak of his career as both occupations. Bruce's vocals have matured considerably over the years, and have reached a more dynamic state while not sacrificing his youthful intensity. Lyrically, the album is an evocative, thought-provoking concept album that proves to be incredibly rewarding once its theme is revealed.
By comparison, this album is heavier sonically than any of Bruce's other work or any of Iron Maiden's discs. Whether this was a conscious decision or a natural progression given the subject matter of the album, it works incredibly well. Roy Z and Adrian Smith are one hell of a duo, and if Bruce's vocals weren't so dazzling, they'd steal the show. Clean solos slice through the mix, and poignant riffs are ceaselessly launched at the listener in wave after wave of heavy melody. Guitar interplay weaves and merges in an engaging mannner, made all the more enjoyable by the clean, heavy production.
But while the guitars are excellent, they never take focus away from Bruce. Never before has his adopted a broader sense of dynamics as with this album. Listen to the sinister verses in "Book of Thel", or the soaring octaves in the chorus of "Trumpets of Jericho", or the constantly shifting dynamics of "The Alchemist." As always, the vocals are etched with Bruce's trademark intensity and vigor. Over the years, Bruce's voice has been refined to an ideal timber, and in my opinion he sounds better than ever.
The album is a (non-story) concept album that deals with man's relationship with God (at least that's my interpretation of it). Ultimately, the meaning of the lyrics are one of the album's best points, but less lyric-oriented listeners will enjoy the lyrics from a superficial level as well (stuff about the devil, mythology, religious stories, etc). Still, understanding the lyrics is an important, rewarding part of this disc, so I encourage all listeners to think about it for a while. (To understand what Bruce was trying to say, only the relationship between tracks 1, 2, 3, 9, and 10 must be understood.) The only problem with this album is that the chorus of "Killing Floor" is the most unlistenable thing I've ever heard. But it's a minor complaint, as I enjoy the rest of the song.
I regard this as one of the best metal albums of the 90s. Even this year's hailed and laudable Maiden album "Brave New World" (which I enjoy) has nothing on the power, originality, and brilliance of The Chemical Wedding. I encourage any heavy metal fan to pick this one up.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Despite the fact that I'd been a serious Maiden fan for a couple years now, I only recently got around to getting some of Bruce's solo work. It took quite a few listens for me to fully appreciate this album, but I think this is the best of his last 3 solo albums, and it stands up pretty well to the best IM albums. (It's not as good, I don't think, but it gets pretty damn close.) Though the sound is somewhat modernized, it's still decidedly Maiden-ish, making it a fairly fresh and extremely well executed twist on the classic metal sound. Certainly, all Maiden fans need to get this album.
The most surprising thing about this album is the guitar tone. It is *severely* down tuned, sounds like all the way down to A, to me. Now, I'm opposed to down tuning in general, but this seems like a fairly odd thing to do for a classic/power metal album. And maybe it would work better with a higher tuning, as it is pretty odd sounding at first with the rumblingly modern, bass-heavy guitar attack. But, after you get used to it it works fine, and provides an added darkness and intensity to the sound.
Of the 10 tracks, there a 2 decidedly weaker ones: 'Killing Floor' and 'Gates of Urizen'. The former is a rocker hurt by its rather grating chorus, while the latter is a somewhat balladish, atmospheric piece that fails to really intrigue me all that much. As usual, neither of these tracks are *bad* precisely, but they don't add too much. Everything else is excellent, however. It opens with 'King in Crimson' a fine counterpart to any classic IM opening tracks, with a severely in your face chorus and a fierce vocal performance from Bruce. (Who is brilliant throughout the album, as usual) The title tracks is a ballad, which nicely utilizes the low tuning to create a brooding, dark sound, and has a great, soaring chorus. (The kinda thing you expect from Bruce) 'The Tower' is a more overtly IM-esque piece, a bit faster and less dark than the prior tracks, and a nice running bass/dual lead middle break. Not the best thing here, but a very solid album track. 'Book of Thel' is excellent, a long, epic track, but with perhaps the best, most energetic chorus yet heard on the album. 'Jerusalem' is a fine ballad. Personally, I actually like to hear a metal ballad every now and then that doesn't bow to the metallic nature of the band, and eventually transform into a regular metal song. Certainly, this track has some distorted guitarwork, but it never loses the focus on the lyrical vocal melodies. 'Trumpets of Jericho' is probably my favorite track. It's just another semi-epic rocker, executed perfectly with another stunning, soaring chorus, and plenty of thundering riffs. 'Machine Men' is another straight ahead rocker. Again, nothing you haven't heard before, but with the powerful chorus that makes it totally worthwhile. 'The Alchemist' slows things down a bit, as it's an atmosphere-laden, semi-ballad, with Bruce's most affecting vocal performance on the album. It also contains a little reprise of the 'Chemical Wedding' chorus, which concludes the album nicely.
Yeah, I'm done. Any fan of traditional heavy metal has to have this.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Korn--move over. Post-Black Album Metallica--take a back seat. Limp Bizkit? Clear the building. Make way for the almighty Air Raid Siren himself, Bruce Dickinson. In an age where the airwaves are starved for good music, Bruce has kept the muse of metal alive, striking hard and furious with one of the heaviest recordings of the decade. Make no mistake; this is no industrial or pseudo-funk rap-metalism; this is old-school heavy metal, Maiden and Sabbath style. Armed with ex-Iron Maiden axeman Adrian Smith and Tribe of Gypsies guitarist/producer Roy Z, Dickinson delivers a 10-track masterpiece that ranges from trademark Maidenesque thunder(King in Crimson, Trumpets of Jehrico, The Tower, the Killing Floor, Machine Men) to progressive metal suites (Book of Thel) to Gaelic/folk-inflected mandolin-metal reels (Jerusalem) to soul-haunting power ballads (title track, the Alchemist, Gates of Urizen). Fans of Dickinson's other work will likely find this release superior to Balls to Picasso, seeing as it stays true to the metal genre rather than foraying into hard rock. Musically, Dickinson's sidemen are EXCELLENT--Adrian Smith, being one of the best things about Maiden CDs, turns in some of his most ripping solo work while still maintaining his emotive, spell-binding soul that is his trademark. Roy Z is no slouch either--his songwriting craft provides the perfect backdrop for Dickinson's gothic lyrics, and his stellar lead work could give Vai/Satriani a run for their money. The rhythm section borrowed from Tribe of Gypsies, bassist Eddie Casillas and drummer Dave Ingraham, are as solid as any in metal and propel the music with muscular drive that hearkens to the halcyon days of the Geezer Butler/Bill Ward thunder duo in Sabbath.
Lyrically, this album is filled with Dickinson's trademark evocative style, drawing upon medieval mythology, theology, and history to create his gothic, stomach-turning imagery. He seems very much a poet and word-painter--the lyrics evoke images and emotions, rather than specific plotlines or concepts. Having said that, it provides the perfect lyrical frame to his thunderous, hellish backing band. Included are various musings on war, gnosticism/alchemy, the fear of the Devil, the evils of industrial society, crises of faith, fantasy, and sorrow--all tied together with a tribute to the great Romantic poet William Blake. Dickinson's album is bleak, prophetic, poetic, triumphant, frightening, powerful, shocking, and 100% magic--one of the best metal CDs of the 90s. Dickinson, both with his solo career and his new triumph with the second coming of Maiden, seemingly resolves to take popular music by the throat and drag it, kicking and screaming, back down to hell with him.
Wage the War Against Musical Incompetence.
UP THE IRONS!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Bruce Dickinson, former and new frontman of Iron Maiden, brings his solo career to a close with quite a gem. "The Chemical Wedding" is in the lyrical vein of "Infinite Dreams" where lines like : "I couldn't hear those screams, even in my wildest dreams" make you pause to ponder what the meaning is. Songs like "Jerusalem", "The Tower", and "The Alchemist" have a richly texture sound that is simply inspiring, and the vocals by Bruce are complimented nicely by the guitar rythmns of Roy-z, and the bluesy style of Adrian Smith whom is another cohort from Maiden. Listening to the tracks the touch of Adrian's stringing becomes very apparent as his departure from Maiden meant an end to songs like the "The Prisoner" that require a well paced style of play. Janick Gers is good but any true Maiden fan would know that he butchers Adrian's solos from previous albums to death. He simply plays too fast. Ah, the "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner". Anyway, this is one well executed album from top to bottom. The Band is really just Bruce and Adrain because everyone else, Roy-Z is independent and works as a producer, Dave Casselle (I think)and sorry for not knowing the rest are really the band: Tribe of Gypsies minus some key members. Bruce loves to borrow this band to do albums such as:"Balls To Picasso", "Accident of Birth", and now "The Chemical Wedding" with them. I have to admit tHIS ALBUM PRESENTS A NEW MUSICAL DIRECTION FOR ALL OF METAL. While new groups deal with techno beats, heavy guitar rythmns, blasting drums, hip-hop lirisism, appearance and other stuff that has caught the old guard off guard, Bruce sticks to being nothing more than a metal artists whom has released a master work that will no doubt end up being mention as an inspiration for future great axemen of the gendre. Take the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I just saw one of their new videos where they're playing on a red stage with an aluminum cover structure, and the song they play ends on a solo routine that just sounds a lot like the strings for "The Tower". Whether or not they listen to Bruce's album, aspiring metal axemen should check this album out because it shows how important overlooked releases are to the art form. Here your imaginatiuon will fly so set down any preconceived notions of what to expect from an album and listen to music that is fresh, new, somehow familiar, and overall a very fine experience. Long live Bruce, Long live Adrian, long live Roy-Z, and long live those who care about the music.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
After leaving Iron Maiden after their 1993 tour for their terrible 1992 album "Fear of the Dark" (which came after 1990's equally bad "No Prayer for the Dying"), vocalist Bruce Dickinson would release a couple of really good solo CD's entitled "Balls to Picasso" and "Skunkworks" which were met with mixed reviews.
Most people/critics scoffed at the fact that Bruce was actually trying to do something different than just straight ahead metal and more in the realm of what was going on in the early 90's music wise with the gruge explosion of Seattle.
But on his next CD "Accident of Birth", this release would see Bruce returning to the world of metal music and it was met with much acclaim by people as a return to form for Bruce.
His last solo CD in 1998 before returning to Iron Maiden in 1999 was "The Chemical Wedding" and like the new liner notes in this remastered & expanded edition of this fantastic CD states, nobody was expecting this album to be as awe inspiring as it turned out to be.
Basically, this album is what Maiden should have been doing throughout most of the 90's instead of the dreck that they would release near the end of Bruce's tenure as singer and throughout their terrible 2 albums with Blaze Bailey before thankfully getting Bruce back behind the mic.
Over the years, all of Bruce's 90's solo stuff had gone out of prints and Sanctuary records has seen fit to remaster, release and expand all 4 of his 90's solo offerings so that people who haven't heard or were aware of his solo stuff can now see what Bruce was up to while he was out of Maiden.
The Chemical Wedding has a bit of a slower feel than Accident of Birth but that slower feel benefits the album's darker and more foreboding feel. Not to say that there are some awesome up tempo tracks on here (like the awesome track Tower), but this is a more brooding album and it benefits from that approach immensely.
Producer/guitarist Roy Z. and ex-Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith even strung their guitars with bass strings on a few tracks to give the songs an even deeper feel.
From start to finish, this album is majestic and a wonder to behold for fans of classic metal or just great music in general. Bruce's voice is awesome as usual and his band on this CD (which was the same lineup he had on Accident of Birth) is smoking throughout.
Maybe it was the high quality of this album which caused the troubled Iron Maiden to come crawling back to Bruce.
This expanded edition really doesn't sound all that different despite being "remastered", but the original release sounded great to begin with.
The real reason why this particular re-release is warranted is due to the inclusion of 3 bonus tracks in the fantastic "Return of the King" (which was only found on the Japanese release of The Chemical Wedding). The other 2 tracks (Real World & Confeos) are from the CD single for The Killing Floor. "Real World" has some great music despite a bit of a repetitive chorus and "Confeos" is sort of a joke (but cool) track in which the boys are clearly having their tongue stuck in their cheek.
Along with the other 3 reissues, the new liner notes are excellent and they also designate who did what guitar solo where.
I've always thought that all of Bruce's solo material was great stuff and in some ways better than what Maiden has been doing for quite some time.
It's a great thing that these 4 out of print CD's have been given a new lease on life for people to discover without having to pay hefty prices getting the original Cd's off of Ebay.
Any fan of metal or just great music in general would do wise to pick this up as it's easily (so far) his crowning achievment of his 6 solo Cd's so far.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Wow! If there was ever an award for the best under-the-radar Metal album, Bruce's The Chemical Wedding would be a serious contender for such a prize.
The Chemical Wedding is a straight-forward Metal album, but it does have a little bit of a Nu-metal element because of the obvious down tuning of the guitars, especially in the rhythm section. Nontheless, its still a great album.
King in Crimson kicks off the album with it's heavy riffs and Bruce's siren vocals, then Roy Z and Adrian Smith come in and give us a very Maiden-esque pair of solos. The pace is then slowed down for the title track. The Chemical Wedding is a nice mid-tempo tune with a very catchy chorus and some good guitar licks. Then comes The Tower, which opens with a neat rhythm part with only the bass and drums, but then the twin guitars kick in leading up to the very catchy chorus. The Tower is one of my favorite tracks from the album. Then the album hits a bump with Killing Floor, which isn't necesarily a bad track, but it just doesn't do much for me largely in part because of it's chorus. However, the Book of Thel comes next and more than compensates for the Killing Floor. The song starts out with a nice keyboard section with a nice little guitar lead, but then a vicious riff kicks in and off we go. Book of Thel is easily the best track in the album. Then comes Gates of Urizen, which isn't a standout track, but it's still an enjoyable ballad-ish tune with some very good vocals from Bruce and some nice guitar solos. Then comes Jerusalem, which opens up with a nice acoustic introduction, but then builds up to a nice rocker with quite possibly the best guitar solos in the album. Jerusalem also showcases Bruce's great vocal range, as he starts out the song on a rather low note, but then shifts up a gear the second time around the chorus. So after two ballad-ish songs, a fast and heavy tune is thrown in: Trumpets of Jericho, which is a very rhythm-heavy song with a memorable chorus. Then comes Machine Men, which has a riff-driven intro that sounds very Maiden-esque (and actually reminds me a bit of the riff in Flash of the Blade from Maiden's Powerslave). Anyhow, Machine Men is a good track that is followed by The Alchemist, which is one of the highlights of the album. The Alchemist has a bit of a spooky intro and the song is transformed into a mid-rocker with one of the best choruses in the album. The Alchemist's ending is also instilled with the chorus from The Chemical Wedding, which ties the album together very neatly. Then come the bonus tracks which have some good material. I especially like Return of the King, which has a nice uplifting mood and a nice happy-chorus that reminds me a little of the chorus on Rainmaker from Maiden's Dance of Death.
To sum it up; The Chemical Wedding is a great album that I highly recommend for any fan of metal, or just good music in general. If you're a Maiden fan, you definetaly need this in your collection. If you haven't done so yet, purchase this album!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I really like this album because its very heavy and yet melodic. This album doesn't contain any of the Blues influenced songs that Bruce Dickinson has included in albums like Balls to Picasso. The Chemical Wedding is an album that every Heavy/Power Metal fan would enjoy greatly. This album is filled with extremely fantastic guitar riffs and solos by Adrian Smith and Roy Z. The lyrics are intense and interstingly written. The rhymes are exquisite and its the closest any band, including Iron Maiden, can get to the Classics of Old - Somewhere in Time and Powerslave. Like these two albums, enjoying "The Chemical Wedding" requires understanding the lyrics and the various elegant stories behind it, of Alchemy, Poetry and Prophecy.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I do not intend this to be a long review. Here's what I'll say: If you are a Maiden fan ... This will make you forget Maiden (at least for a while). If you are a Dickinson fan, this will make you a fanatic. If you love metal....buy this CD.
The Chemical Wedding is an epic masterpiece of metal...start to finish.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD
If you don't know where to start with Bruce, start here. This is a milestone in heavy metal. All the songs here rock, except for maybe the bonus tracks on the remastered edition, but even then they are still quite good. As far as what tracks are "good", don't pay attention to what anyone writes here. The tracks have many layers and you will find the songs you like and the songs that aren't as "intriguing" to you. Many of the songs I play over and over are songs others don't think are the best tracks... and you will make your own choices. If you have all of Maiden and you need a fix and you don't have this disc... then BUY IT NOW.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2005
Format: Audio CD
While Iron Maiden had faded off into irrelevancy, Bruce Dickinson was as popular as ever, for while he didn't have any hit songs, he was leading the charge of metal into the 21st Century. Some people have said that "Accident of Birth" and "Chemical Wedding" should count as the Iron Maiden albums bridging the gap between "Fear of the Dark" and "Brave New World," but really this is different than Iron Maiden. Both are melodic, but here the songs are more riff-based, and there's stronger musicianship, especially in the guitar solos. A thousand reviewers have already mentioned that Adrian Smith and Roy Z put bass string on their guitars, but I wanted to mention that fact because even though the guitars are heavier, they don't sound like seven-strings for whatever reason. This gives the riffing a unique sound and is one of many unique things about this album.
1. King In Crimson 10/10- Perfect way to start out the album, especially with the uber-heavy guitar part in the beginning; gets the listener ready and lets him/her (okay, "him") know what to expect. Nothing groundbreaking, but still one of my favorites.
2. Chemical Wedding 10/10- Were it released about ten years ago, would have been a big hit in England (I mean it's better than some of those songs that Maiden releaed in the early 90's). I like the chorus and guitar solos especially.
3. The Tower 10/10- This song has the best chorus in the entire album. Adrian Smith's guitar parts remind me somewhat of Maiden, but for me it actually helps the song.
4. Killing Floor 7.5/10- Not really a bad song, but it just doesn't add anything to the album. The weak chorus is what really does the song in.
5. Book of Thel 10/10- Longest song on the album, but doesn't really feel like an epic. Fantastic guitar riff that shows up throughout most of the song. Good guitar interlude and I like the use of piano in the song.
6. Gates of Urizen 7/10- Once again, the weak chorus is what really does this song in.
7. Jerusalem 10/10- Even though this isn't even seven minutes long I consider it the epic of the album. And oh what an epic it is. Quiet beginning lead up to a memorable chorus ("Let it Rain!") and has a moving guitar solo in the middle. I would consider this to be Dickinson's greatest song in his solo career.
8. Trumpets of Jericho 9/10- Weird vocal parts and riff in the middle, but after I got used to it I can say that I now enjoy it alot. Great riffing throughout.
9. Machine Men 8/10- Anyone that enjoyed the fantasy lyrics and melodies of Iron Maiden will love this one. Probably the closest that Bruce gets to old-school Iron Maiden on the entire album.
10. The Alchemist 10/10- I like the chorus and the guitar work as well as Dickinson's singing is great, but the best part of the song is how in the end it switches to the chorus of "Chemical Wedding." Doing this sort of ties the album together. An effective song to end the album with.
As for the bonus songs, "Return of the King" was pretty good, but I didn't care for the two others so much. There isn't really that much of a difference between this and the original recording, so if you already own this, don't feel the need to go out and buy the remaster, but if you like I was and interested because of all the good reviews, buy this right away. I think this is Bruce Dickinson's best solo album, and I would go so far as to say my favorite Maiden related album of all time.