Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Zoot Marimba, Nov 8, 2017.
That we will. I am pretty open to having my perception changed from time to time
Bruce Dickinson - Accident of Birth (1997)
Accident of Birth was billed as Bruce's "return to metal" and also noteworthy for his reunion with Adrian Smith. I was skeptical of these moves, believing at the time that Bruce was doing anything he could to regain an audience after "going alternative" with Skunkworks. Boy was I wrong! I remember when I heard about the album just rolled my eyes and I had no intention of checking it out. A week or two before the the release I was talking to my best friend (who got me into Maiden in the first place) and he told me that some website was previewing the track Road to Hell. He told me to drop what I was doing and listen to it. I did, and I was really impressed. The day of release comes and I'm talking to him again and he's already bought it and listened through. His comment was "GO BUY IT NOW". Well, I did and I was blown away by how good it was. Bruce was back, Adrian was back, and the album was significantly better than everything any of them had done since Only the Good Die Young ended. I still feel this way. If this album had been by "Iron Maiden" it would be regarded as a classic. Let's dive in...
Freak - After a brief intro, this song blasts off and even though it's downtuned, it already sounds more vital than anything Bruce has done since 7th Son. The band sounds ALIVE, Bruce's singing is great, the playing from all 5 guys (Bruce, Adrian, Roy Z, Eddie Casillas & Dave Ingraham) is fantastic and we have a good idea that this album isn't going to be like Balls to Picasso or Skunkworks. Freak is a heavy, relentless tune and features a short Adrian solo. Most of the melody is carried by the vocals, though.
Toltec 7 Arrival - basically just serves as a mellow, spacey intro for Starchildren. Has a nice melody played by Adrian, but otherwise it's nothing more than a 38-second intro
Starchildren - I love the heaviness of this track and also the harmony guitars really stand out here. Adrian and Roy did a fantastic job of arranging the guitars on this song. The construction of this song is pretty standard, but I think it's a good idea to open with these two heavy/relatively simple songs. Roy plays an interesting solo that's very effects-heavy. Soaring chorus like we've come to expect from Bruce.
Taking the Queen - Toltec gave a us a small taste that this album would have some different aspects, but we really hear Bruce & Co branching out on Taking the Queen. Clean/Acoustic guitars open up and Bruce is in full story-teller mode. Eddie Casillas' bass tone is great here and Ingraham delivers and nice groove while Bruce tells the tale. When this song kicks in it's incredibly powerful and it feels like we've been missing this feeling for so long. Bruce is in top form vocally. The song slows down again and there's a cool bass solo before Adrian steps up and delivers this massively awesome and gorgeous solo. I've so missed him playing like this. I love the addition of the mellotron in the bridge as it leads us back to the chorus. This is a seriously good song, lots of light & shade here. The outro piano merges perfectly with...
Darkside of Aquarius - cool opening bass riff and medieval harmony guitars. It's spooky and we know it's gonna rage soon, and it does. Again, the way that Adrian and Roy arranged these guitar parts recall the best days of Adrian & Dave and maybe even moreso. They're not afraid to really go for it and have so many harmony guitar parts. Very rarely do you hear them playing the same thing. This song has a great groove. The gallop on the chorus sounds like an old friend and Bruce is soaring over the top. It's still a different flavor than Maiden because they're not trying to sound exactly like them. The middle section features more harmony guitars and a pair of ripping solos, first by Adrian then Roy Z just lets loose. The way the guitars are used in this song is fantastic, esp. in the part after the solos. We catch our breath as the bass reprises the intro line and the guitars are in full medieval mode. Great melody from Bruce. I love the way Roy's riff kicks in on the "gotta move" section. Once Adrian & the rest of the band joins were in for a treat. Great riff. Harmony guitars explode. THIS SOUND. Man, THIS is what we've been missing all these years. Perfect background vocals add to the excellence as we fade out with another guitar solo. Perfect song, they just nailed it.
Road to Hell - This is a relatively short and basic rocker, but it really delivers. Both the pre-chorus and chorus show Bruce firmly in control and sounding excellent. I don't understand why this song wasn't a single, it's a perfect sing-along. As this is an Adrian/Bruce written song, you know what you're in for. Great solo by Adrian. Tight song, not a wasted second.
Man of Sorrows - this song was actually written in 1990 and an early demo is found on disc 2 of Bruce's Best Of album. If I remember the book correctly, this was the initial spark for his Chemical Wedding movie about Aleister Crowley. The version on Accident of Birth gives us a nice break from the more rocking songs. Bruce's vocal performance is fantastic. I love Adrian's solo here. It's not my favorite song on the album, but it brings in a different element (a ballad about Crowley) that I appreciate. On the bonus disc of the remaster there's a version of Bruce singing this in Spanish!
Accident of Birth - here's Bruce working out some of his personal issues in a somewhat cheeky way. Bruce wasn't a "planned" pregnancy so thus, he was an accident in his eyes. Super-singable chorus on this song. Great heavy song and Bruce delivers a classic menacing vocal.
The Magician - this one is fine, but it's my least favorite of the album. It's not horrible by any means, but it's just kind of basic. The chorus feels like music you'd work out to, in some demented universe. The "whoa-oh" sing-along part is annoying. At least Adrian gets a really ripping solo here, I like that a lot.
Welcome to the Pit - Another Bruce/Adrian composition, really heavy one with a good slower groove. Cool chorus, but my favorite part of the song is the middle section. Adrian really stepped up to write this incredibly intricate set of changes that he solos over. So good.
The Ghost of Cain - This was a bonus track on the US/Japanese editions of the album and since that's what I'm familiar with I'm including it here. This is the 3rd and final of the the Bruce/Adrian cowrites. It's a good song, but not great. Kind of stock.
Omega - This song is fantastic. I love the song anyway, but it's the guitar solo that really makes it. The acoustic verses are great with Bruce in perfect story teller mode. I love the fake-out of the pre-chorus (look at your future) here before we get to the really awesome chorus. Adrian's solo, though...this is a thing of beauty and my favorite guitar solo he's ever done. The way it's constructed reminds me of what he did with Sea of Madness and Stranger in a Strange Land, but I think he pulls it off even better here. Gorgeous, perfect guitar solo. Adrian Smith is the f'n MAN. Through light and dark he pulls out some fantastic licks and there are a few in the heavy section where he plays stuff I didn't know he had in him. Tremendous, and the way it comes back into the song is brilliant.
Arc of Space - completely acoustic song that closes the album in a somber way. Well, acoustic guitars, bass, mellotron and Bruce's excellent voice. Gorgeous song. Perfect ending for this fantastic album.
Here's Taking the Queen and Darkside of Aquarius, mixed with Lord of the Rings visuals:
I’m currently working on Wolfsbane
Great review, man. But it also makes me remember why I dind't bother that much when it came out. That painting by Riggs... Djeesis, what were they thinking? It is so UGLY. And not in a cool but childish heavy metal-y way. Just plain
But after reading this, I will of course have to check out if you can't judge something by its cover...
Yeah, I posted the US version, but the other ones are just as comical. I was happy it was a Riggs artwork, but it wasn’t the same as in the old days.
Oh, I know. A former girlfriend had the European one with the poster. I was not tempted to put it on to get in the mood. Not even once...
This one should do the trick.
If not, I'll keep my mouth shut - at least until we get to Chemical Wedding!
...And yes, the cover of AoB is right awful!
LOVE this album!!! Whence I first heard this album I couldn't believe what I was hearing as I was not expecting anything like this at all. It has become for me, one of those classic metal albums. Production I feel is spot on as well. Kind of like British Steel where it just 'sounds' so right.
I was going to do a write up on this album but you nailed it better than I could. Agree with just about everything. I'll just make a few comments:
1) Toltec 7 Arrival sounds VERY similar to the outro of "If Eternity Should Fail" off "Book of Souls"
2) "Darkside of Aquarius", "Accident at Birth", "Omega" and "Arc of Space" are all fantastic and are my favorites on the album.
3) Agree "The Magician" and "Road To Hell" are pretty basic (although not bad) and are probably the least compelling songs on the album
Overall, this album is my favorite 1990's Maiden related release. I enjoy "Fear of the Dark" but "Accident of Birth" is a clear step up.
PS - Count me as another not fond of the coverart
Accident of Birth is incredible. Thanks, Adrian.
This album rocks. As I’ve mentioned, I only discovered Bruce’s solo material this year. I’ve probably spent the least amount of time with AoB, but I need to correct that soon.
Favorite track so far: Starchildren.
Excellent summary. All I can add for now is pretty much what most think: the cover is awful (and the reason I refused to buy the recent LP reissue). The title track is a stone classic, FAR better than any Iron Maiden song of the 90s (and deep into the 00s). And yes, the moment when the guitar comes in during the "gotta move" section in "Darkside" is a peak moment in the history of metal. What a great, great song.
What I love about this and "Chemical Wedding," as I've said before, is that Dickinson's lyrics are a goofy grab-bag of sci-fi, William Blake, some invented cosmology, Buddhism, Tarot, probably a little Lovecraft. And it works. Sure, it doesn't mean anything, but it powerfully creates an atmosphere of menace, dread and transformation without (for the most part) any clangerously dumb phrases. And even when he comes close to silliness he pulls it off with sheer passion. I mean, "A lonely silver surfer comes to push the wheel for me" is RIDICULOUS, but he sells it 'cause he believes in it, unlike, say, every ridiculous Steve Harris lyric he's ever had to try and garble his way through.
Overall I will say I'm not in love with this record, "Starchildren" and "Taking the Queen" are the only other songs I think rise high but things get even better on "Chemical Wedding." I just don't think he could ever top "Darkside" though. My one complaint about that song is the fadeout. Shoulda just kept going another few minutes to a big climax.
Bruce Dickinson, Accident of Birth
Freak: Good opener, nice and fast. As stated, this band sounds alive.
Toltec 7 Arrival: Cool trippy intro for Starchildren.
Starchildren: Heaviness reigns supreme on this one. Drum pattern is great.
Taking the Queen: I rate this high simply for Adrian's emotional solo. Oh yeah, and these are my kind of lyrics, metal-wise that is.
Darkside of Aquarius: This stands up with any Harris penned epic. Love that chorus.
Road to Hell: This one reminds me of the shorter songs on the reunion albums ie The Alchemist or The Mercenary. Short, great and don't overstay their welcome. I cant help but sing paved instead of full on the chorus, lol
Man of Sorrows: Really enjoy the piano. Good song.
Accident of Birth: A classic metal song.
The Magician: Not a fan of this song. Somethings missing.
Welcome to the Pit: Another pass.
Omega: Ok back on track.
Arc of Space: I like the lyrics and having a fully acoustic track works here.
I like this album but I don't own it. I have a painful memory surrounding this release but I do have all the songs on a cd-r with different artwork. Yes my bad memory includes the artwork as well. So far this is Bruce's second best album and it was really good to hear him return to the sound that made him famous. Accident of Birth pales in comparison to Maiden's four '90s albums but it still rocks.
Accident Of Birth
The only problem I have with the artwork is that I don't get it. Why a jester?
The US version sucks. Not sure why they needed a less violent cover, this album was never for sale at Walmart to my knowledge. It was sold at the same stores that also sell Cannibal Corpse albums, which are much more violent.
Bruce Dickinson - Accident of Birth
My thoughts are this album is very good, it's solid and tight. The production is up there also, you can really hear everything in a good overall balance. I even like the filler songs that have been called out above. It's a keeper for me and I think I'll go spin the vinyl again.
Yeah that’s a terrible cover.
This album is why I don't ever doubt Bruce anymore. He'll throw out some surprises and weird things, but he brings the goods way more often than anyone else who's ever been in the band, Steve-o included. And he's still doing it! Just look at what he did on Book of Souls. I didn't get to touch on the production enough in my review, but you're so right. It sounds fantastic and Roy outdid his work here on Chemical Wedding.
I have this secret theory that a lot Bruce's songs fit into a much larger concept that he hasn't fully revealed yet. Like, he's making this brilliant concept album, but only giving us a piece at a time. If this thing only exists in my head, yeah, he SELLS it so well that isn't near impossible to not be with him every step of the way.
Queen>Aquarius is one of the coolest things he's ever done. Just phenomenal songwriting from Bruce and Roy Z.
What exactly does Bruce mean by "A lonely silver surfer comes to push the wheel for me"? He doesn’t actually mean, like, THE Silver Surfer, does he?
It's not meant to be taken literally, it is about anyone taking up watersports with precious metals.
Listening to the album again and the riffs are glorious.
I've always felt like the album somewhat naturally leads to a climax with Taking the Queen/Darkside of Aquarius where the album finally opens in its epic glory and then rides the wave to a sublimely subdued note on Arc of Space. As an album experience, Accident of Birth is superbly well-constructed.
Writing the last few notes to my reviews concerning "Accident Of Birth" and then Im gonna post it here.
Paul Di'anno - The World's First Iron Man
Living In America - Unnecessary cover, but not bad, has some pretty nice slide guitar.
Play That Funky Music - I'm really not one to review funk songs, I don't like this song no matter who does it.
I say skip the covers and go straight for the good stuff.
Forever - Real pretty. Too much repeating the chorus, but I like it.
What Am I Gonna Do - Nice melody. A fine song, if a tad monotonous.
I Ain't Coming Back No More - Brilliant! Cool verse melody. Good sing-along chorus. One of the highlights of the album.
I'm All Shook Up - Not the Presley number. Fist-banging rhythm, Maiden style vocals. Pretty good.
Caught Your Lie - Too generic, a little boring.
Had Enough - Cool guitar line on the pre-chorus. Some AC/DC in there too. Generic but great.
Take These Chains From Me - A faster one. Real catchy chorus. Love it! Second favourite from the album.
Show Some Emotion - Bitter-sweet, beautiful, a good closer.
Live songs by Killers:
Remember Tomorrow - A stellar performance. If any singer ever owned a song, Paul does this one. No-one else need ever try it. Incredible what he can do with such a simple melody.
Wrathchild + Phantom - Pretty good. Phantom is cut short this time.
Children Of The Revolution - I'm not too crazy about this song or T.Rex, but they do it fine I guess.
Sanctuary - Just a little excerpt is featured as an outro.
This album is ballsy good-time fist-bangin' 80s hard rock all the way. If you don't like that kind of music, stay away. If you do, I heartily recommend this album, which to me is by far the best thing I've heard from Paul since he left Maiden. In fact it's the best I've heard of any Maiden member. Go Paul!!! Too bad the CD looks to be out of print and somewhat rare and pricey. Time for a re-issue maybe?
Because of the title and the implications that it is all a part of the cosmic joke, I'd say.
Heard the first four songs yesterday. Not really enamoured yet. I don't like the grungy guitar tone and the muddy '90's production. And yet, there is something here. His singing is so much better than on the last couple of Maiden albums before he left. I will go back to this one later today and see if I cannot figure it out.
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