After three respectable albeit ultimately disappointing solo offerings, in 1997 the Air Raid Siren himself finally released an album worthy of the man’s legacy. “Accident Of Birth” kick-started Dickinson’s return to the world of not just Heavy Metal, but Awesomely Awesome Heavy Metal, resulting in a successful reunion with IRON MAIDEN and a passion that would result in two more extremely impressive solo albums to date. So now it’s 2005 and Bruce has released the second of said extremely impressive solo albums, “Tyranny Of Souls,” and one of the ripples caused by that tidal wave of Metal is that Sanctuary has decided to re-release Bruce’s entire catalogue, remastered and with bonus tracks. Neat.
“Accident Of Birth” simply deserves a place in any Metalhead’s collection. Don’t expect a MAIDEN clone, as this is chunkier, heavier and darker than MAIDEN ever was. Along with Roy Z and Adrian Smith, Bruce has written some great songs here and with the exception of “Welcome To The Pit,” the lyrics are not only dark and sinister but also quite literate. Part of the expanded re-release is a nice long article about the album in the liner notes, in which all of the songs are explained, offering some more insight into the lyrics.
This album has ripping Metal tunes such as “Freak” and “Road To Hell,” as well as it’s more mellowed out and emotional moments. “Taking The Queen,” “Man Of Sorrows,” “Omega,” and “Arc Of Space” all feature acoustic guitars and softer vocals (though not entirely, of course) and these tracks are where “Accident Of Birth” really shines. This is especially true of “Man Of Sorrows,” an emotional and slightly orchestral number at the beginning of which Bruce sounds like a dead ringer for later-period David Gilmour – definitely a surprise upon first listen!
Disc two is a collection of B-sides and demos, including three versions of “Man Of Sorrows,” but aside from “The Ghost Of Cain,” a nice track which actually appeared on the album when it was first released, it’s pretty much fluff. I mean, with all of the various tracks being tacked onto the re-releases of Bruce’s other albums, why stick “Accident Of Birth” with three versions of one song? I’ve never really seen the point of including demos as bonus tracks and the demos featured here have done nothing to change my mind.
If it’s not already there, “Accident Of Birth” should be on your To-Buy List, especially if you’re a fan of literate, proficient Heavy Metal. Whether or not you buy the original or this re-released, expanded and remastered version is up to you and your income, however – the second disc is mostly a novelty and the “remastering” is pretty pointless when you consider that this album was released in 1997 by a man with quite a budget behind him. In fact, the only difference I’ve noticed between the original release of this album and this version is that Disc One of this set, the album itself, has no artwork on the CD – just a reflective surface. I’m not sure if this is a defect in the one I got or if all of them are this way, but seeing as Disc Two has artwork, it seems like a strange decision to leave Disc One bare. If anyone knows whether or not all of them are this way, please let me know.
This album is definitely worth a 9.5 or a 10, but considering the dilution of quality through the expanded re-release – i.e. the bonus disc and subsequent increase in price - the total package had to lose a bit in the rating department. (Online November 14, 2005)