Bruce Dickinson's fourth solo release Accident of Birth sees the singer moving back to his heavy metal roots after the more experimental Skunkworks album, and indeed this 1997 opus is a strong precursor to the classic The Chemical Wedding. Here, Bruce is joined by guitarist/keyboard player/producer Roy Z, former Iron Maiden mate Adrian Smith, Eddie Castillas on bass, and David Ingraham. This line-up would stay together to record two albums, both considered to be the best in the Dickinson solo catalog, before Bruce and Adrian rejoined Iron Maiden.
There's just one heavy hitter after another on Accident of Birth, and some of the highlights being the churning, 70's inspired heavy rocker "Darkside of Aquarius" with its unison riffs that recall Thin Lizzy, the chugging "Road to Hell", the brutal stomping riffs of "Welcome to the Pit", or the rampaging metal fury of "Freak". In addition to the abundance of heavy rockers, there are also a few melodic numbers that contain some traditional proggressive/hard rock influences (Bruce is a big Rainbow and Deep Purple fan after all). "Toltec 7 Arrival" mixes some atmospheric and trippy keyboard textures with doomy riffs, "Starchildren" is a haunting yet melodic piece featuring Mellotron and acoustic guitars, while Roy Z again dusts off the Mellotron as well as the piano for the emotional "Man of Sorrows", a song that allows Dickinson his most passionate vocal on the album. The band pulls off some kick ass industrial sounding metal on the raging title track, a powerful number that hinted at the monolithic sounds that would follow on The Chemical Wedding.
This remastered and expanded edition not only sounds great with a info packed booklet, but a second CD of demo versions of these songs as well as the CD single "The Ghost of Cain" is also included. For any Iron Maiden fan, this will be a reissue purchase that should be a no-brainer.
2. Toltec 7 Arrival
4. Taking the Queen
5. Darkside of Aquarius
6. Road to Hell
7. Man of Sorrows
8. Accident of Birth
10. Welcome to the Pit
12. Arc of Space
1. Ghost of Cain [*] [CD Single]
2. Accident of Birth [*][Demo Version]
3. Starchildren [*][Demo Version]
4. Taking the Queen [*][Demo Version]
5. Man of Sorrows [Radio Edit][*]
6. Man of Sorrows [Orchestral Version][*]
7. Man of Sorrows [Spanish Version][*]
8. Darkside of Aquarius [*][Demo Version]
9. Arc of Space [*][Demo Version]