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BRUCE DICKINSON Explains The Evolving Concept For His Upcoming Solo Album

"What if you had an album that had a story that could be turned into a comic and the two things would work together?"

BRUCE DICKINSON MANDAKE PROJECT 2023 PHOTO BY JOHN McMURTRIE
Photo by John McMurtrie

Bruce Dickinson recently unveiled the first single and music video off his upcoming solo album The Mandrake Project. The song "Afterglow of Ragnarok" premiered accompanied by a cinematic and dark video, on the opening day of CCXP23, Brazil's huge Comic-Con event in Sao Paulo.

During the unveiling, Dickinson not only premiered the clip but also revealed additional details on the album and an upcoming comic collaboration with Z2 Comics. Adding to the excitement, 2,000 exclusive comic versions were announced, sending ripples of joy within the global comic community.

The album, recorded at Los Angeles's Doom Room with Roy Z at the helm (who also played bass and guitars), also features keyboardist Mistheria and drummer Dave Moreno, both reprising their roles from Dickinson's previous solo album Tyranny Of Souls. In a recent interview with Brazil's Omelete, (transcribed by Blabbermouth) Dickinson further explained the album's thematic core, intertwining music and comics in an adult-themed 12-episode graphic novel.

The Mandrake Project delves into the enigmatic world of Dr. Necropolis, an orphaned genius grappling with his identity and the profound implications of a groundbreaking scientific endeavor known as "The Mandrake Project." This ambitious project seeks to capture and store human souls, opening up a realm of ethical quandaries and existential questions.

"So The Mandrake Project is, one, is an album. It's the name of the album. The comic is a 12-episode graphic novel, kind of adult. There's lots of stuff in it — there's lots of sex and drugs and violence and all kinds of stuff. But it's basically a story about a guy who is looking for his identity, Dr. Necropolis. He's an orphan, he's a genius, and he hates it, and he hates life, but he's involved in The Mandrake Project

" And The Mandrake Project aims to take the human soul at the point of death, capture it, store it, and put it back in something else. And the guy that's running the project, Professor Lazarus, has one vision of what's gonna happen with this technology, and Necropolis has other ideas. And on we go with the story."

Dickinson, also reflected on the fusion of music and comics, and reminisced about Iron Maiden's past flirtations with cover art and video games, leading to the creation of 'Legacy Of The Beast:' "Well, I think they do kind of go together. They really do. Music and games, music and comics, comics and games, they're all related."

Years ago, Iron Maiden, we were doing some cover art, and I said, 'Why don't we do a comic?', like the comics that I used to read when I was a kid… When I suggested doing some covers, comic covers, we did some single artwork for Iron Maiden, and I thought, 'You know what? This is kind of cool.' Then later, Maiden had a video game called 'Legacy Of The Beast'; we still do."

Dickinson added: "But what came with a video game, somebody produced a series of comics. And I thought they looked fantastic, but they lacked a story. And that got me thinking, what if you had an album that had a story that could be turned into a comic and the two things would work together? As it happened, they've actually grown apart. So, the original album, in 2014, was gonna be one comic with the album — that's it.

"Then, COVID happened, other things happened, seven years went by, and I had a 12-episode graphic novel. And I went, 'I don't wanna restrict the album to being like a script for this.' These two things exist separately, but they inform each other. So you can look at the album and go, 'Oh, yeah, that's kind of related to the comic.' And you look at the comic and go, 'Oh, I see that might be a little bit related to the album,' but they're not dependent on each other. So you can buy the comic or you can buy the album — or both."

The Mandrake Project tracklist reads like a journey with familiar echoes like "Eternity Has Failed" making a comeback in an evolved form from its Iron Maiden roots. This only adds to the intrigue, showcasing the extensive creative process that birthed this long-anticipated record. The album is described as sonically heavy and rich in musical textures, featuring some of Bruce's finest vocal performances of his career.

In addition to the previously announced 2024 live dates in Brazil and Mexico, the Iron Maiden frontman recently announced a handful of European shows. His live band through all these dates will include Roy Z on guitars, drummer Dave Moreno, bass player Tanya O’Callaghan, and keyboardist Mistheria.

And if all that touring wasn't enough to keep him busy, he has landed himself a role in an upcoming horror movie called Bjorn Of The Dead.

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