Skunkworks United KingdomCountry Of Origin: United Kingdom
Dickinson, Bruce - Skunkworks

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Space Race
Back From The Edge
Solar Confinement
I Will Not Accept The Truth
Inside The Machine
Strange Death In Paradise

Release Date: 1996
Label: BMG

MetalBite Review by Luka on 3/29/2002
Ahh, what a pleasure it is to review an album I adore so immensely and on so many levels! "Tattooed Millionaire" and "Balls to Picasso" were so horrible and unoriginal that I had very early written off Bruce Dickinson as a gone-by metal legend who didnít have what it takes to make it on his own. And then came this amazing album... this "Skunkworks" project... oh hell, what a difference and timely salvation! He not only turned in the right direction, he single-handedly forged a brand new ďsoundĒ which is completely unique to this album, the type of sound some bands would spend their career on perfecting. While the majority of his fans found the later works even more impressive, "Skunkworks" hit the right note with me and I see it as the ultimate and somewhat unexpected climax of his solo career!

Bruce finally seems to have taken his band seriously after the two whimsical previous albums. This time thereís energy, thereís atmosphere, thereís emotion, intensity... a completely thought out and perfected masterpiece! Itís amazing how catchy and full of hooks it is for a relatively slow paced and often mesmerizing album! It churns slowly but surely and pulses with a strange intensity that keeps the mysterious atmosphere in a constant state while the different songs experiment and move in all kinds of different musical directions and styles. Impossible to label, this is a strange type of mellowed out heavy metal that wouldnít lose a speck of itís brilliance 20 years in the future or 20 years in the past, itís original, itís timeless.

The songs are finely and carefully constructed and produced with the utmost perfection. Hooks and strong beats of speedy tracks like 'Solar Confinement' and 'Innerspace' get your head bobbing readily even though the drums and bass are not nearly as dominant as they could have been. 'Inertia' and 'Back From the Edge', even the strange, atmospheric 'Octavia' youíll be singing to after hearing only once, theyíre so potent and fun that you canít help yourself! Bruceís lyrics, which are intelligent and thought-provoking and often deal with strange occurrences probably from his early life, youíll also be singing along to in a short while. He has perfected the concept of vocal and instrumental harmony, every sound fits seamlessly into his singing patterns and thatís what makes it so damn catchy! The closing track 'Strange Death in Paradise' is so mesmerizing and progressive it would make Dream Theater jealous!

"Skunkworks" (much like the actual secret government project) still remains a mystery to me after listening to it for some half decade, itís fun and simply never gets boring! The formula is perfected, every song has something unique and different. Dickinsonís voice is even smoother and more likeable than I ever remember him from Iron Maiden. This album marked a significant turn in his career that, with the help of the two well-known follow-ups, made him one of the most important figures ever in the genre of heavy music. Do not pass this album by, it easily knocks out of the water both 1997ís famous "Accident of Birth" and Ď98Ďs "Chemical Wedding", though Iím sure many will disagree. Get this album!

Bottom Line: A brief summary of the words I used to describe this godly album: mysterious, atmospheric; progressive; potent; fun; catchy; powerful; original; perfected; timeless, brilliant... so what are you waiting for??

Originality: 9
Musicianship: 9
Atmosphere: 9
Production: 10
Overall: 10

Rating: 9.4 out of 10