Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson explores “renewal” — not “bloody vikings” — on new solo album

Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson wants to make one thing clear about his new solo album, The Mandrake Project: it’s not about “bloody vikings.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking that it might be, given that the record’s opening track and lead single is called “Afterglow of Ragnarok.” If you’re a fan of the Thor movies or God of War video games, you know that “Ragnarok” refers to a world-ending event in Norse mythology.

“When I wrote the song, I was like, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?"” Dickinson tells ABC Audio.

Instead of following in the footsteps of Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Song,” Dickinson was more interested in the themes behind Ragnarok, which sets the scene for the rest of The Mandrake Project.

“Ragnarok’s not about the end of the world,” Dickinson says. “Ragnarok’s about renewal. The world has to end in order for it to be renewed.”

The Mandrake Project does have a non-viking-related narrative concerning a scientist named Dr. Necropolis, which is further explored in an accompanying comic book series. The actual music, meanwhile, bounces from the expected big metal riffs to more surprising sounds, influenced by everything from Westerns to The Beatles.

Overall, Dickinson wants The Mandrake Project to reflect the unlimited nature of a solo project, exploring themes and sounds he couldn’t necessarily do with Maiden.

“There’s some emotional things on the record,” he says. “You couldn’t do a track like [closing song] ‘Sonata,’ for example, with Maiden. You couldn’t do a track like ‘Resurrection Men’ with Maiden with Dick Dale surf guitars, bongos and stoner Hawkwind riffs and stuff like that.”

The Mandrake Project drops Friday, March 1.

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