#3: Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine the The Top 25 Modern Metal Frontmen, and after an incredible amount of arguing, name-calling, and physical violence, we have finalized that list! Writers were asked to consider vocal ability, lyrics, and live presence when casting their votes; to be eligible for the list the musician in question had to a) play metal (duh), b) be a frontman or woman (double-duh), and c) have recorded something AND performed live in the past five years. Today we continue our countdown with Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson…
It’s easy to admire the strategy of Jay-Z, rapper and tuxedo enthusiast. Never mind his tactics, you can tell that young Jay once plotted his path to superstardom and immortality: Sell millions of records, step into the acclaim vacuum left by deceased forebears, forge a highly-visible public link to his female counterpart in vanilla ambition, pursue NBA championship ring, depart genre ghetto for crossover success, ascend to executive position in music industry, and generally appear awesome to those uninterested in knowing better.
But wait. How could a clydesdale like him win a pro sports championship? What jamz by a dope-slangin’ brah from the projects could pry open the wallets of suburban superstore shoppers? Who on the Hollywood A-list would gladhand with such (relatively) rough trade? The answers, respectively: acquire a small share of a trendy NBA team; guest spots on albums by lilywhite, fancy-dancy hunks; and any celebrity smart enough to catch the splashback from a high-profile label CEO (for a moment) and his top pop shriek-bot wife. Goals unlocked, superstar status achieved. So it seems?
But consider this: Bruce Dickinson is the real Jay-Z. For where Jay deals in perception and positioning, Dickinson achieves awesomeness for real — just on a different scale. But he’s an actual mega-man, while every generation’s Jay-Z (or Ozzy, etc.) just acts and looks like one. The present is kind to Jay, but later his ilk will be remembered for fame and passing relevance. Meanwhile, Dickinson, 54, is a hero in any time and from any angle. That is, no matter the era inhabited by Dickinson — or the moment in which his improbable life is evaluated — he is a supernova. His peers are Eno, Chomsky, Eco, and Branson. He is a renaissance man, a polymath, a thinker, a genius. For thirty goddamn years.
For he is a master of the arts, as a mega-selling band’s massively influential center-stage performer and a quirky solo artist, an author of dubious fiction and producer of an odd B-movie. He is a prince of fancy sport, the ones that you suck at unless your brain and brawn are equal and awesome (like soccer and fencing). He’s an aviator entrusted to captain big international aircraft, and he conceived the first-ever global stadium tour itinerary by jumbo jet, one that detonates neutron bombs of happiness in the far corners of civilization. He is paid bundles to moonlight as a radio broadcaster, to host history TV, and to talk business strategy before theaterfuls of moneymen, and he’s a funny, fearless, no-nonsense music dude who inspires the same in his bajillion fans.
And all this is important. See, it means that it’s impossible for his image to surpass his body of work. Behind the professional life of the man Bruce Dickinson, there lie unforgettable records and life-changing concert performances. In other words, the divide between the image of an awesome, multi-skilled dude and his art — his singular voice, power, range, creativity, dress, and movements — is bridged like a sonofabitch. Or in still other words, the booming visage of the great Oz isn’t undermined by the reality of a puny spaz pulling levers behind green drapes; for Dickinson, we pull back the curtain to witness a greater, more terrible beast than the one that’s projected and amplified night after night for our benefit. He’s even greater than he seems.
The List So Far:
#4: Devin Townsend
#5: Randy Blythe (Lamb of God)
#6: Julie Christmas
#7: Frank Mullen (Suffocation)
#8: Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)
#9: Phil Anselmo
#10: Grace Perry (ex-Landmine Marathon)
#11: Guy Kozowyk (The Red Chord)
#12: Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder)
#13: George “Corspegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse)
#14: Chance Garnette (Skeletonwitch)
#15: Vincent Bennet (The Acacia Strain)
#16: Mike Patton
#17: Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste)
#18: Joe Duplantier (Gojira)
#19: Oderus Urungus (Gwar)
#20: Nergal (Behemoth)
#21: Jens Kidman (Meshuggah)
#22: J.R. Hayes (Pig Destroyer)
#23: Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed)
#24: Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct)
#25: Chino Moreno (Deftones)