• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Bruce Dickinson Returns With The Mandrake Project, His First Solo Album in Two Decades!

ByTaylor T Carlson

Mar 4, 2024

THE MANDRAKE PROJECT is the seventh solo album from Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson. It’s his first solo album since 2005’s TYRANNY OF SOULS.

Bruce Dickinson made a name for himself in the 1980s as one of heavy metal’s all-time great frontmen, rocking the world as Iron Maiden’s vocalist. Did I mention he’s also a pilot, a fencer, and a cancer survivor? The ex-Samson singer continued performing into the 1990s, launching a solo career as well following his departure from Maiden, only to return to the group in the late 1990s. Following his return to Iron Maiden, it seemed like his solo career was largely put on the backburner, aside from the oft-forgotten (but still excellent) TYRANNY OF SOULS from 2005.

It’s been nearly two decades since we got a solo album from Mr. Dickinson, and this fan feels one is long overdue after so many years. Bruce solo tends to veer more towards hard rock than heavy metal, with some other progression and elements at times as well, but he usually manages to make some pretty solid releases that stand on their own. Much of this is due to the input of Roy Z, who has produced and played on many of his efforts. Roy’s back in the producer’s chair for THE MANDRAKE PROJECT.

I’m a fan of Bruce Dickinson and Iron Maiden, but I won’t deny that I think most of the Maiden albums to come out after BRAVE NEW WORLD have been a bit mundane, though I won’t deny the band still rocks the stage live. Quite honestly, following the release of Maiden’s SENJUTSU, the timing couldn’t be better for a new Bruce Dickinson solo album. And while the Air Raid Siren has one of the most distinctive voices in rock and metal, he still manages to make his solo stuff sound drastically different from his work with that other band he’s a part of.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from THE MANDRAKE PROJECT, but I’m pleased to say that Mr. Dickinson has a winner on his hands, and it really makes you wonder why he didn’t make the time to record another solo album in the past 19 years. I wouldn’t say this is the greatest solo album Bruce has ever made; that honor still belongs to either THE CHEMICAL WEDDING or ACCIDENT OF BIRTH, but this new effort blows any Iron Maiden album from the past 20 years out of the water. Bruce and Roy Z have been a great musical pair, and it’s fantastic to see these two reunited. We even have a guest appearance from Ozzy Osbourne/Firewind guitarist Gus G. Everything comes together nicely.

The album maintains more of a hard rock feel than a heavy metal one, which is true of most of Bruce’s solo efforts, but that doesn’t stop him from bringing in some slightly more progressive elements. No song outstays its welcome; something I haven’t been able to say about a lot of the more recent releases in the Maiden catalogue. From straightforward rockers to more melodic slower tracks to moments that even feel like an epic poem, I love what I hear on THE MANDRAKE PROJECT. It took damn year 20 years to get a new Bruce solo album, but better late than never. It doesn’t disappoint.

Hopefully THE MANDRAKE PROJECT is a sign that Bruce Dickinson will finally be dusting off his old solo career and bringing it back from the dead. It’s the best release to feature his vocals in over two decades. Very highly recommended!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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