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I retired from my job nearly three years ago because I’d simply burned myself out doing the same thing for so long. Most of the music I listen to these days is from unsigned or up-and-coming bands and I do sometimes wonder how guys that have been making music for a long time keep things fresh and original. However, in the last month or so first Saxon and now Bruce Dickinson have proved that they can still go toe to toe with the young pretenders to their crowns by producing truly epic and relevant new records that won’t be far away from appearing in my top ten list at the end of the year.

‘The Mandrake Project’ is an album of the highest quality from start to finish both musically and lyrically, which sees Bruce actually slowing things down and singing rather than screaming as he is required to do most of the time with Iron Maiden. The album is resolutely Heavy Metal with a capital H, but is also both thoughtful and melodic with it. All the songs here are uniformly strong and Dickinson has been smart by signing up musicians he trusts who are amongst the very best in the business.

First song out of the gate is ‘Afterglow Of Ragnarok’ and it’s an atmospheric doom-laden beast of a

song that shows the levels of grandiosity on display that we are about to be subjected to. ‘Many Doors To Hell’ is a touch more laidback and Bruce really sings his heart out on this one. For me as a huge Maiden fan, this album is the best he has sounded in years and Roy Z. Is just a perfect producer for this vocalist. ‘Rain On The Graves’ has a thunderous bass opening and is almost a ‘storytelling’ song, perfectly in keeping with the comic books that accompany this project. ‘Resurrection Men’ is a fantastic production and with its humongous bass line, it’s not dissimilar to classic Black Sabbath once it kicks in. ‘Fingers In The Wounds’ is immense and immediate, filling in some of the gaps of the story and then we are onto the finest song on the album, ‘Eternity Has Failed.’ A sequel to the 2015 Maiden track ‘If Eternity Should Fail’ from the mighty ‘The Book Of Souls’, this is a straight-up modern-day classic that stands shoulder to shoulder with anything Bruce has ever produced. From its Morricone style opening through to its inspired guitar work from the amazing Gus G, this is absolute perfection in my book. ‘Mistress Of Mercy’ is an ominous but ultimately uplifting ultra-heavy track while ‘Face In The Mirror’ slows things down a touch and we are presented with an epic and masterful song that takes us into the penultimate song, ’Shadow Of The Gods’. This is a near seven-minute track that takes its time before it builds to an epic climax and is another superlative effort.

The final cut is ‘Sonata (Immortal Beloved)’ which is a fabulous (if slightly overlong) nine-minute heartfelt and emotional song that is an almost perfect finish to this record, with Dickinsons vocal work here genuinely atmospheric and creepy. In conclusion, while this record has been a long time coming it’s fantastic and I’ve no doubt it will turn out to be one of the albums of the year. There’s life in the old dog yet is a well-worn phrase but sometimes it just needs an old hand to step up to the plate and show the young ones how it’s done. Superb stuff.


Bruce Dickinson – Vocals

Roy Z – Lead Guitar,Bass Guitar

Mistheria – Keyboards

Dave Moreno – Drums


1. Afterglow Of Ragnarok

2. Many Doors To Hell

3. Rain On The Graves

4. Resurrection Men

5. Fingers In The Wounds

6. Eternity Has Failed

7. Mistress Of Mercy

8. Face In The Mirror

9. Shadow Of The Gods

10. Sonata (Immortal Beloved)

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