Released: 2005, Sanctuary Records
Everyone knows Bruce Dickinson and everyone knows his recording history with Samson, Iron Maiden, and his own solo material so I fell it’s best to leave that be. One thing I have to say though is that I have never at any point in my life been a fan of Iron Maiden. I respect and acknowledge the talent the band has, as well as the passion they used to have, but I’ve never felt a thing when I’ve listened to any of their albums, and yes, I’ve made a decent shot of it, listening to all of the Iron Madien albums more than a few times. Yet I still come away with nothing. The odd thing is though, I’ve found Bruce Dickinson’s last two solo albums, ACCIDENT OF BIRTH and CHEMICAL WEDDING, to be metal of the highest order, classics in waiting really.
Every band that I know of that hits their creative apex (which I feel CHEMICAL WEDDING was for Bruce) follows it up with a release that tends to be a lot simpler, more straightforward and maybe even a little half-hearted at times. I have to say that the stigma holds true going from CHEMICAL WEDDING to TYRANNY OF SOULS. While not a bad release, it’s actually a pretty damn good one, I can’t help but feel that TYRANNY OF SOULS could have used more time to develop and maybe a little more thought. The creativity isn’t as breathtaking here as both Bruce and Roy Z. seem to be running through the ideas they developed so well on the last two albums. Adrian Smith’s absence on guitar is sorely missed as well since there are many secitions on the album that scream for his beautiful solos.
The first real song on the album, “Abduction”, starts off in asskicking fashion with a heavy, modern riff that I don’t think would be out of place on a Gothenburg/Melodic death metal album. Quickly the song moves into a more typical traditional heavy metal riff that consists of simple, straight chugs. The chorus is instantly catchy with dual guitar melodies. There’s also a section in the song that is only used for a brief few seconds, from the first time the chorus moves back into the verse there’s a quick double bass section that I was hoping would be revisited later in the song. Unfortunately it doesn’t make a reappearance. “Soul Intruders’ is another heavy one, starting off with what sounds like a left over from Halford’s first album. Shortly the song moves into a more straight riff, much like “Abduction” did. Bruce’s melodies in the chorus are just something only he could do, very powerful yet instant and unforgettable. With “Kill Devil Hill” we start to see a bit of deviation; a mid-paced chugger with a chorus that utilizes Bruce’s soaring melodies extremely well. The first soft song of the album, “Navigate the Seas of the Sun” could be likened to “Man of Sorrows” off of ACCIDENT OF BIRTH, although it must be conceded that “Navigate the Seas of the Sun” is a song that contains much more emotion and passion.
Moving into the second half of the album is where I feel the album sees its flaws. I’m honestly not too fond of the opening riff with piano in the background, sounds a lot like something I’d hear from Dream Theater. The verses end up saving the song but the rest of the song could be tossed. The first solo section is particularly annoying as I hate the riffs underneath it as it just drones on and on. “Power of the Sun” pissed me off from the beginning with its annoying vocal effect but it does redeem itself with a nice verse and some heavier sections. I especially like instrumental sections, the solo section is definitely a winner. “Devil on a Hog” has a good chorus, but that’s all it has going for it with its more rock and roll approach. It’s more like something I’d expect from Judas Priest and they tend to do it better. “Believil” is the best song in the second half, starting off with background guitar and a more sinister vocal approach from Bruce. The heavy chorus is a nice kind of early climax for the song and the bass runs that stand out every once in a while add nicely to the song. The heavy section with the choir (keyboards?) accents sounds great. “A Tyranny of Souls” doesn’t start off so well but does end with a bang. From from 2:48 onwards the song is absolutely crushing following a heavy, modern riff.
“Tyranny of Souls” is a solid release that has a good share of great songs but happens to have some less than stellar moments as well. Admittedly my expectations might have been too high considering the 7 year wait for this album. When TYRANNY OF SOULS is on it’s on on, and could rival the last two albums, but when the less interesting parts hit I almost find myself reaching for the skip button.