The Chemical Wedding

Too much intelligence can be a bad thing....

The Chemical Wedding

7 / 10 TOO MUCH INTELLIGENCE CAN BE A bad thing. Bruce Dickinson could tell you about such a concept what with him being that rarest of things: a heavy metal hero with a university degree.

Restrained by the confines of the mighty Iron Maiden - probably the greatest pop-metal act in history - he was forced to channel this innate nous outside music, making the occasional witty TV appearance and writing sub-Tom Sharpe novels about Lord Iffy Boatrace. Unshackled from the Maiden, then, it's unsurprising that he comes up with a pretentious and preposterous notion like 'The Chemical Wedding'; a record inspired by the myth and occult science of alchemy and the work of proto-socialist visionary William Blake.

This, however, is not as impenetrable as it may seem, because under Dickinson's steely gaze, 'The Chemical Wedding' stirs this ridiculous psychobabble into a rich goulash of grunting powerchords, locomotive drumming and occasional cod-classical interludes so that we mere mortals, flummoxed by the big concept, can enjoy a more than adequate metal feast. There's even a trawl through Blake's 'Jerusalem' which somehow straddles the boundary between staggering inanity and brilliance.

Not, maybe, as death-defyingly manic as Cradle Of Filth or barbarian metal kings Bal Sagoth (the most fearsome of the current metal crop), but pretty engrossing nonetheless. That said, trenchant conservatives that we are, we always thought that original Maiden vocalist Paul Di'anno was a better singer.

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