The heavy rockers were nearing completion on The Book of Souls earlier this year (15) when the singer learned he was battling cancer, but bassist Steve Harris admits none of the members had any idea DICkinson was ill as his vocals were always on point.

He tells, "Bruce didn't know (he had cancer) and none of us knew anything about (it) - there was no inkling of any of it. He'd finished all his vocal bits completely anyway, and then there were some other bits and pieces we were doing.

"Really, we didn't know anything. He didn't show any signs at all. I mean, his singing, when you hear it - he's singing better than ever."

Iron Maiden postponed the release of The Book of Souls as DICkinson underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and in May (15), he was given the all-clear by doctors.

The band will now unveil the new music in September (15) and Harris has heaped praise on how well DICkinson has coped with the health crisis.

He says, "It's Bruce's story to tell when he feels the time is right. The one thing I can say is that Bruce is a trooper and more than ready for the next chapter of Iron Maiden."

Meanwhile, DICkinson admits he is well on the way to recovery. He tells the BBC, "I can sing, I can talk - I haven't gone out and done the equivalent of trying to run 100 metres in the same way I used to sing before.

"I only finished coming out of treatment two months ago and the doctor said it will take a year to be better. We've beaten that by about six months so far, but I'm not going to push things to prove a point."

He has also recalled the moment he was diagnosed with the tumour, revealing the only symptom he had was a lump in his neck.

The singer says, "I went to the doc and he went, 'Oooh that's a bit weird.' He took a scan of it, had a look, had a poke around, and went, 'You have head and neck cancer'. So I went, 'That's a bit of a blow' - but you crack on and you get on with it."