by MythofRock

Bruce Dickinson, renowned as Iron Maiden’s frontman, makes a significant mark on the heavy metal community with the release of his seventh solo album, “The Mandrake Project” nearly two decades since his last solo effort, “Tyranny of Souls”. Such album releases hold profound importance for both dedicated fans and potential newcomers to the genre, offering an opportunity for celebration and exploration alike. “The Mandrake Project” serves as a culmination of Dickinson’s diverse musical journey, drawing elements from his extensive discography while bearing a closer resemblance to the style of his earlier solo work, particularly “Balls to Picasso”. Across its ten tracks, the album presents a stunning blend of melodic metal, with Dickinson’s commanding vocals alongside enchanting guitar riffs and solos. Dickinson’s vocal prowess shines throughout the album, delivering emotive performances that breathe life into each song’s narrative. While the album may not feature tracks reminiscent of his previous hits like “Tears of the Dragon” or “Dark Side of Aquarius” and the sound production could be louder and clearer, each composition possesses its own distinct charm and leaves a lasting impression on the listener. Standout tracks such as “Afterglow of Ragnarok” evoke echoes of bands like Savatage, while “Many Doors To Hell” captivates with its mesmerizing guitar riff. In “Rain on the Graves” we understand Dickinson’s vocal versatility, while “Resurrection Men” grabs your attention with its unique character. “Face in the Mirror” is an instant classic ballad, while “Sonata (Immortal Beloved)” envelops listeners in its atmospheric allure. “The Mandrake Project” demonstrates Dickinson’s multifaceted talents and serves as a masterful showcase of his artistic vision. Its appeal transcends Iron Maiden fandom, offering a unique musical experience. In essence, it is a work of genuine artistry. I love it.

♦ 8,5/10

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

The Master is back!!! 26 years ago, Bruce Dickinson released one of the greatest metal albums of the ’90s, called “The Chemical Wedding”, and it was seriously fucking heavy. Between 1997’s similarly monstrous “Accident Of Birth” and 2005’s diverse and dynamic “Tyranny Of Souls”, the Iron Maiden frontman’s fifth solo album was widely and justly hailed as a classic. With this new album, we can hear the quality of the singer, who has reunited with long-standing producer Roy Z (who also handles bass and guitar), as well as returning bandmates Dave Moreno (drummer) and Maestro Mistheria (keyboards). The album also features special guests Gus G (Firewind) and Chris Declerq. “The Mandrake Project” starts with “Afterglow of Ragnarok”, a tune that turned out to be an awesome single, a powerful opening number that showcases Bruce at his heaviest. Next stop is “Many Doors To Hell”, where we can hear a Deep Purple influence. Dickinson hits the high notes like never before, which is fascinating and will keep up onto the narrative. “Rain on the Graves” is more heavy metal and has an Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath sound… very doomy and theatrical, it includes a kick-ass guitar solo by Roy Z. “Resurrection Men” starts with a Flamenco guitar vibe, complemented with Latin rhythmic beats. Then a Western atmosphere is heard! The song takes a huge turn: a doom passage into Black Sabbath era is here, with a thick guitar and bass tone. The atmosphere is strong in this one! “Fingers In The Wounds” starts with a symphonic vibe and a “Man of Sorrows” influence is heard in the vocals. The chorus is superb! An Arabic vibe and atmosphere is heard too and the piano gives an easily addictive melody. Later, Dickinson revisits the “If Eternity Should Fail” from “The Book of Souls”. The song is very similar to the original, however this version sonically sounds better. The keyboards are what make it brilliant: they replace the guitars, yet they can make it metal. “Mistress Of Mercy” is a hell of raw power! Dickinson feels like riding the storm and rendering his vocals with that blend of melodic vocal line. “Face In The Mirror” is an emotional ballad and has an amazing acoustic guitar! “Shadow Of The Gods” starts with a beautiful piano passage. It reminds of Iron Maiden’s “Empire of the Clouds”. It’s another mid-tempo ballad, with a hypnotic Black Sabbath riff, which leads Bruce into the lyrics. For the fans of “The Trooper” era, they will hear it at the midst of the song. Very emotional, atmospheric and bombastic! “Sonata (Immortal Beloved)” is the last and longest track of the record. The guitar solo seems similar to Scorpions’ “White China”. Beautiful track, out of the box, very elegant, a great way to close off the album. Brilliant, JUST BRILLIANT! Bruce Dickinson has delivered a masterpiece! There’s nothing this fine gentleman can’t sing. Not surprisingly, Dickinson’s vocals are still impressive. At age of 65 he still has ample power and range, and his varied approach makes the songs even more compelling. “The Mandrake Project” is one of Dickinson’s most well-rounded solo efforts, with one of metal’s most accomplished artists showing he still has plenty gas left in the tank.

♦ 10/10

Raquel Miranda

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