15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Textured and High Quality.
I'm a Powerslave man myself so yeah "yawn, yawn this album is not like my favorite etc etc". We all need to admit that Maiden have grown and developed as a band since whichever album or era we like best and that when the quality of the new stuff is this good we can sit back knowing Maiden are still on top of their game.
Iron Maiden are a stadium band these days and...
Published on 2 Sep 2010 by Xtro Jon
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing from the Mighty Maiden
Although this album is good and Maiden are still one of the greatest bands in the world this album just sounds a little tired and lacks a truly stand out track. This album isnt going to win any new fans but I don't suppose thats a problem for them. If you want to get some 'Proper' Iron Maiden, try 'Number of the Beast' and 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son'. These albums set...
Published 14 months ago by Mr. David
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Textured and High Quality.,
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)I'm a Powerslave man myself so yeah "yawn, yawn this album is not like my favorite etc etc". We all need to admit that Maiden have grown and developed as a band since whichever album or era we like best and that when the quality of the new stuff is this good we can sit back knowing Maiden are still on top of their game.
Iron Maiden are a stadium band these days and this latest album reflects that fact, and no that doesn't mean its self indulgent or bloated. What I'm getting at here is that '..Fontier' sounds like what it is, a top quality album from an experienced big venue band.
The stripped down sound of the eighties albums is there for you to listen to any time you wish, by listening to THOSE albums, but here in 2010 Iron Maiden are still giving us the sounds we all expect yet are not afraid to try a few new twists. Never at any point does 'The Final Frontier' feel lazy or re-heated, you always get the feeling your getting your money's worth and this is not a band just sitting back and letting their name sell an album they sleepwalked through.
So when thinking of buying this album ask yourself:- "Do I like good music that has been written and performed by a band that packs stadiums throughout the world or do I just like the odd early Iron Maiden album which granted was amazing but I can't expect them to only keep remaking my particular favorite in a career spanning decades."
Just buy this disc you'll enjoy it. With 'The Final Frontier' Iron Maiden have stayed true to their old fans but will continue to gain new one's and lets be fair that's why they are one of the biggest bands on earth.
110 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An old technique with a new approach. An interesting, invigorating Iron Maiden,
1. "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier" (Smith, Harris)
Contrary to what you might have been led to believe by the official video, this song is actually 8:40 minutes long, half of it being a very, very, very unusual intro for Iron Maiden -- 4:40 minutes of an eerie piece of futuristic, space-like, void-feeling material, slow-paced but at the same time emanating disturbing melodies before those known hard-rock chords can soar. From then on it's the same thing you hear on the band's official video.
2. "El Dorado" (Smith, Harris, Dickinson)
Not much to say. It was the first song released, downloadable for free, so you know what to expect. I'm just very glad that it's probably the worst song on the album.
3. "Mother of Mercy" (Smith, Harris)
Rather slow-paced, not a rapid, furious & heavy-rhythm'ed as I had thought it would be before listening to it. It's a tune I actually wouldn't picture Iron Maiden coming up with. It's very Maiden in its simplicity, but at the same time the melody itself is not usual in terms of what we've witnessed in the past 15 years. Which is, I must say, something that pervades the entire album, this tendency to venture into the unexplored. It's an interesting song, but not much more than that. I'm glad it's just 5-minutes long, otherwise it would become quite boring.
4. "Coming Home" (Smith, Harris, Dickinson)
Wow, a balad. But this sounds very much like a Bruce Dickinson ballad, rather than an Iron Maiden one. Think "Tyranny of Souls" (the album), though (not "Accident of Birth"). Very catchy chorus, and a very nice melody throughout. I'm thinking the band will be playing this one live. Interesting progression at 3 minutes into the song, with a clean-sounding solo by Dave, with nothing but a reverb on it. Then Adrian comes in with some distortion on his solo, very beautiful melody lines as usual, and then it falls back to Bruce singing the chorus.
5. "The Alchemist" (Gers, Harris, Dickinson)
Truly, this has nothing to do with Bruce's homonymous song. Not quite unlike what's Maiden's done since 2000, however. This one's more forward than the previous tracks (Satellite 15 excepted), with a nice chorus too, mainly because of the guitar trio coming up with those harmonic combinations that completely fill out the background. There's also some modulation thrown in, which you don't see a lot in Maiden. I personally enjoy the guitar melody on the bridge and chorus for this song. Solo exclusively by Janick, followed by the 3 guitars. Falls back to the chorus and the song ends (very similar to the "Coming Home" approach).
6. "Isle of Avalon" (Smith, Harris)
If it weren't for the bass right in the beginning, you wouldn't guess this is a Maiden tune, even though it is somehow in synch with what the band's been doing since Kevin Shirley took up the production seat with the boys. Mysterious-like melody, but fast-paced intro, which holds on for a good 2 and a half minutes before it finally picks up at around 2:50, with an interesting vigor. It falls again to a certain mystery-ridden melody right after, before a short Dave Murray solo kicks in at around 3:40, followed by some solid rhythm-base session, and then by Adrian playing a little with what seem to be synthetizers (you may hear some Somewhere in Time-like material at this point, even though the song itself is far from that). You gotta think in terms of epic-like material, in the same line as Alexander the Great, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Sign of the Cross. It's 9 minutes long, and it's one of those songs where you'll pay closer attention to the lyrics while some interesting tune plays in the background (and not the other way around). The chorus is very nice, however, and brings the melody forward.
7. "Starblind" (Smith, Harris, Dickinson)
This one's got a slow start, Bruce calmly pronouncing his words over a guitar melody. I thought it would be another slow song, but then some distortion guitars kick in, gladly. The main part of the song (not the bridge or chorus) is a very solid crescendo, whih sounds very amazing to me, and they build just the right amount of expectation. Bridge's very good too, and you know you got something good on your hands. It's hard to correctly describe this song. It's not fast, but it's not exactly slow-paced either. It's a very interesting tune, really, with a few unexpected twist and turns, and sometimes some of its distortion guitar levels sound as though they had nothing but a Fender-like sound to it, as if they had only had said Fender amp to provide heaviness (this goes mainly for Adrian or Janick). Adrian seems to have used synthetizers for his soloes, however -- with some mean reverb on them. Bruce does very well here, singing a solid tune with variations, going from low to high-pitched notes in the same sentence. There's some modulation present here, too. All in all it's a good song, and you may feel hooked even though it's almost 8-minutes long.
8. "The Talisman" (Gers, Harris)
Beautiful beginning. The production and general feel very closely resemble what you hear in "The Legacy" (A Matter if Life and Death's last track). This actually perdures for 2:20 minutes until some power rhythm guitars kick in with more solid, heavy riffs making the bed where Bruce seems to comfortably lie in. Very forward tune, which I thought somewhat lacking at times, because it's a long album, and some of the tunes (like "Mother of Mercy" and "Coming Home" being put together, one after the other) sort of gives you the feeling that things are somewhat slow for a while. Also, much like "Dance of Death" and "A Matter of Life and Death", this album is filled with little, slow acoustic intros that tend to make you feel like there isn't much punch or drive to it. "The Talisman" can show a lot of raw power, however, which is always a good thing when it comes to Maiden. Nice vocal melodies at around 5 minutes into the song, with great soloes right after. They remind me some of the material on "Fear is the Key", probably because of the vibrato unit/tremolo bar being used. Good song.
9. "The Man Who Would Be King" (Dave Murray, Harris)
Again slow intro. But nice follow-up, with solid bass chords underlying the guitar melody -- which, to be honest, remind me a lot of "Out of the Silent Planet". The drums come in, in a crescendo, and then we got some heavy, forward-sounding riffs and Bruce's vocal lines (which now remind me somewhat of "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate"). All in all this is a tune of its own, truly. As you reach 4 minutes, you will be listening to some really (really!) different material. I'm betting you could never guess this to be Iron Maiden. Very unlike what's been done in 30 years of history. You'll understand what I mean when you listen to this. At around 6 minutes, when Bruce sings again, his vocal lines remind me of Dance of Death's "Wildest Dreams". This song's 8-and-a-half minutes long, and it does feel long (unlike other, longer Iron Maiden tunes, I must say).
10. "When the Wild Wind Blows"
Last -- and longest -- song on the album. As usual, a slow-paced intro, but gladly, off the top of my head, it doesn't remind me of any other Maiden song. It's as if it wants to, but it doesn't. Beautiful tune, really, and great change of pace at around 3:40. Adrian comes in with a solo at 4:46, followed by Dave, and both melodies are tremendously beautiful. This is possibly the song with most potential on the whole album, and I'm very pleased to say that even though it's 11:01 minutes long, ranking as the 3rd longest Iron Maiden song -- the first since The X Factor album, released 15 years ago --, it is seriously addictive, and begs for another listen immediately. Due to its length, perhaps Maiden will refrain from playing it live. But if they could work out a way to play "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", I think they could definitely pull it off for this one. It's worth it.
So what's the verdict? Well, this is not the best Iron Maiden album ever released. But it is far from the worst. It is solid, much more coherent and consistent than anything they've done since "Brave New World". It has some of the most intriguing tunes I've ever listened in an Iron Maiden album. Very different material, and you get the feeling right from the start that the band is really trying to outdo themselves and come up with stuff that clearly stand in uncharted waters. Thankfully, they don't stray too far -- probably a product of Harris's traditional approach --, and they manage to unite tradition with exploration. The result is satisfactory, even though there is room for improvement. For example, since 1995 Harris seems intent on coming up with tunes that start with that same slow intro melody technique, which is a dangerous thing to do if it pervades an entire album. Which is the case with "The Final Frontier". Worse if it's been used so constantly in the last 5 albums (excluding present material, which would total 6 albums). I mean, if you take up Powerslave, Piece of Mind or anything before that (even Somewhere in Time) any one can see that you don't need to overuse it. My guess is that Harris started this approach very meekly with "Moonchild", perfected it throughout "No Prayer for the Dying" (the album), halted a little in "Fear of the Dark", but let it take full control from "The X Factor" onwards.
Generally, however, the album is a good listen and worth buying. If not for the honest attempt into reinveinting Iron Maiden and coming up with some new material, then at least for the sheer amount of music it proportionates (after all, this is one of the longest plays in the Maiden catalogue).
I feel very strongly about rating this album. I want to give it 5 stars, but won't, simply because the truth is that some of the material in it was too obvious to be dismissed as a necessity, and it could have been turned into something much better. So I had to somehow be impartial (or at least try to) when judging it. But in my heart, as a fan, it deserves 6 (yes, 6) stars simply because it is so honest in its composition, writing and in its lyrics. I don't see an Iron Maiden trying to cash in some big fat checks, as much as I see a group of people really giving their best shot at recreating or re-garnering some of that inventive energy that seemed to be lost for a while and that now is beginning to resurface after some good deal of soul searching.
I don't think many people will be disappointed in this album, especially those who actually liked the track "El Dorado" -- to me, the worst song on the album. They've got some great material here. Again, this is completely worth buying.
Up the Irons!
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Final Frontier,
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)Got mine early in the post - still can't believe that! Great stuff Amazon! Well, it's been nearly a three weeks since the album was launched, and I feel an update is in order on my thoughts on the album. While not quite as instant as "Brave New World" or as deep as "A Matter Of Life of Death", I can say it's better then the excellent, but slightly patchy "Dance of Death", the songs have reallt grown on me, many where in the first place I didn't think much of them, now I think they're awesome! Everyone is on top form, with some truly inspired guitar work from Adrian, Dave and Janick (many of the guitar licks I can't get out of my head!), plain awesome vocals from Bruce, the great chugging bass from Steve, and Nicko being well Nicko, which equals the best drummer in the business today. Special note must go to the front cover which is probably going to become one of the all time greats (got my Final Frontier T-shirt ready for the tour!!)
The first 5 tracks are definetly the "singles" songs, many destined to become concert classics, especially the title track with it's strange, kick ass opening before launching into an awesome piece of classic Maiden, "El Dorado" which grows on every listen (BTW it sounds way better then the free MP3 given away on the website) and "The Alchemist", which is a classic piece of triple axe attack . While at first I claimed "Mother of Mercy" and "Coming Home" were the least memorable tracks originally, I've found these are the ones that have grown on me the most - especially "Coming Home" which I think has the best, most memorable chrous on the album. All in all, the first half never lets up offering superb editions to the Maiden catalogue.
On recent listens I've found that the middle lags a little - "Isle of Avalon" in particular, mainly due to lack of a good chorus or a guitar hook, and feels like a couple of chorus could have been cut - not to say that's it's bad or anything, it's a very well played and powerfully sung piece and has a really cool opening riff, but for me personally on an album as great as this, this is the only one that drags it down, in way that "Brave New World" and "A Matter Of Life and Death" never had. I think part of the problem is that they try to fit too many lyrics into the song, which ironically for a song that is 9 minutes, doesn't really have a chance to breath. "Starblind" is an improvement, offering a very cool opening riff, with a great Dickinson chorus, and it links in with the whole space theme of the album. Still they're the weakest of the album - a shame considering the rest of the album has such momentum - but who knows a month's time I could have completely changed my mind about them and think they are just as great as the rest of the album!
However, the record earns back all it's accolades with the final 3 tracks, which all pass the 8 minute mark. These are some of the most complex songs Maiden have ever produced and are simply stunning, especially the final track "When The Wild Wind Blows". Coupled with the epic "The Talisman" and "The Man Who Would Be King" (Probably got my fav guitar sections on the whole album), the closing songs more then make up for the album's lagging middle, and in it's self earns the album five stars. The songs deal with classic Maiden themes of war, death, redemption and adventure, with stunning fantasy/sci-fi imagery to boot. To say the final tracks are dazzling is an understatement, and ones that could very well go down in Metal history. As for "When The Wild Wind Blows" I honestly think it's up there with the classic closers of past Maiden albums, such as "Hallowed Be Thy Name" or "To Tame A Land", and leaves you with an extended chill down your spine, similar to "A Matter Of Life and Death"'s closer "The Legacy". And that riff...man this one is going to become a classic - can't wait to hear it live!! The final three tracks completely save the album from maybe a 4 star review, and boot it right into 5.
In an age where metalcore is taking over and older bands are struggling to find their place, it's truly refreshing that a band like Maiden are still around to show how far the genre can be pushed, while putting their own unique stamp on it. Many older bands could just keep touring with the old songs and be very successful, yet Maiden are one of the few older bands still pushing the limits in their new albums, and not digging up the bones of the past. Despite a lagging middle, "The Final Frontier" is proof of this - long live Maiden!
1. Satellite 15... The Final Frontier - 10/10
2. El Dorado - 10/10
3. Mother of Mercy - 9/10
4. Coming Home - 10/10
5. The Alchemist - 9/10
6. Isle of Avalon - 7/10
7. Starblind - 8/10
8. The Talisman - 10/10
9. The Man Who Would Be King - 10/10
10. When The Wild Wind Blows - 10/10
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finely Tuned-Ear,
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)I've purposely waited a while to review this album, as my first impressions weren't great. On the strength of the first few listens, I initially thought that Maiden's creative roll of the last decade had finally come to an end. But, as with all Maiden's output since Bruce's return, "The Final Frontier" needs digestion and is a real grower. It just seemed to take longer for me this time, this is a highly-complex album. It's that complexity that I struggle with, it takes time to absorb but it always pays off in the end. Ultimately, however, Maiden have once again proven their uniqueness and class. There is a quality and intelligence to their output that is incomparable to anybody else in their genre. They are simply in a league of their own and easily make their nearest rivals seem positively Neanderthal in comparison (whoever they may be, I absolutely have no idea). Don't get me wrong, it's not all great. There's an abundance of lyrical howlers on this but, after a while, they seem to fit in to the overall framework. Leaving you questioning your initial cringes. There's also a prodigious amount of Maiden's trademark `gallops', that have been (thankfully) missing from recent output ("Lord Of Light" aside). But, even they seem to melt quite nicely into the whole affair after repeated immersion. Even the album's weakest songs (i.e. "Mother Of Mercy" and "Starblind") have great hooks and musical nuances that will rouse you from any temporary lethargy. Stand-out tracks here are "Satellite 15....The Final Frontier" (lengthy industrial intro segueing into the fast-paced title track, Nicko at his very best), "Coming Home" (catchy aeroplane ditty which wouldn't be out of place on Bruce's "Skunkworks" album), "The Talisman" and "The Man Who Would Be King" (two impressive, complex and weighty mini-epics). Finally, the closing blockbuster "When The Wild Wind Blows" is quite simply one of the best songs that Steve Harris has ever written. And that is, quite frankly, a hell of a boast. Overall, "The Final Frontier" is an ambitious, epic (again!!) and cohesive work that merits a lofty status in Maiden's catalogue. As a Maiden fan of 30 years (and counting) I rarely listen to anything pre-2000 these days, their last four albums have really redefined them and they show no signs of compromise or simply going through the motions. I suspect they'll be playing the whole thing on the 2011 tour (as they did for the last album) and I, for one, would welcome that. Although I do hate the cover, a band of Maiden's maturity and class really need to apply some subtlety to the cartoon imagery these days. But that's just my opinion. Nuff said.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are the voyages...,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I will now do one of those sad track-by-track reviews that will be far too long and involved and irrelevant as everyone else has already beaten me to it, but I feel that Iron Maiden deserve a bit of time spent when critiquing their work and I just want to do it , so there; it's not every day that you get to enjoy brand new material from one of the best bands on the planet.
Satellite 15...The Final Frontier - 10/10
Very proggy first half that explodes into one of the catchiest and hummable tracks they have written in years. Pure, classic Maiden, but with a fresh angle. It's not really comparable to any other album, it is wholly identifiable as a `new' Maiden track and it is breathtakingly good. Will begin many a live show.
ElDorado - 8/10
Nothing too special but an excellent, very `pre-Blaze' Maiden song; a bit dirty with some leery vocals from Bruce, but with a tune so catchy it matters not that what came before and what is to come is so much better. Fun Maiden.
Mother of Mercy - 7/10
Saying that, Mother of Mercy is quite hard to like as much as the others, despite it being a perfectly brilliant track. You need to give it a few spins to really appreciate it but it is one of the tracks that sticks the album together, bridges the gaps between the beginning and the middle and makes it sound a complete whole. It almost sounds like it could have fit on A Matter of Life & Death, especially as it concerns war. Middling, but no slouch.
Coming Home - 10/10
Oh em gee... This is a truly mammoth track. If this isn't a single then I will be shocked (although they're not really a `single' kind of band). On first listen it kind of passes you by but the more you hear it, the better it becomes. It's not groundbreaking, it is basically one of the simplest tracks here with a basic verse/chorus/solo etc structure, and is one of the shortest. It also is indicative of maybe their B-sides from the Somewhere in Time era (Reach Out, Juanita etc), while its real identity belongs with the first track as it is almost like new territory for Maiden. For such a simple sounding song, it is huge and is a new Maiden classic, along with The Final Frontier and ElDorado.
The Alchemist - 8.5/10
Not quite filler, as it is such an immediate and likeable song, but just missing out on being immortal. It's catchy, fast, tuneful and heavy. It finishes the first half of the album off perfectly and introduces the monster that succeeds it. As with the remainder of the album, it deserves a few listens to let the tune bed.
Isle of Avalon - 9.5/10
After the `single'-centred first half, we move into epic territory with the 9 minute second half opener. Swirling melodies and strong time changes abound and it must be listened to many times before appreciation is granted. Bruce is on top vocal form too. This is evidence why Maiden are now being revered by many. A truly dense, yet playful and exciting track. Stunning. More please.
Starblind - 10/10
I'll be shot down for this, but I believe that Starblind is one of the best tracks on the whole album. Many reviewers here and elsewhere do not seem to agree with me. Where I would have possibly jettisoned Mother of Mercy (although I wont), this behemoth of a song HAS to stay. It is simple but epic and has a driving force that sweeps clean through all of the other tracks. It is the energy of the chorus that overwhelms, together with some excellent percussion from Mr McBrain. It sticks with a rolling beat that chugs along through the entire song, which is where I can understand most people would have a problem as it could be conceived to be slightly dirgey and boring and the chorus is not so dissimilar from the preceding verse. But it is the small changes that give it its power. After everybody slated it, I was surprised that I grew to like it so much. It has the grungey tone of The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, only faster.
The Talisman - 10/10
Like a parrot, I'll say it again - you need to give this some time. These last 5 tracks are all around the 8 minute plus size and cannot be absorbed with a single listen. It's taken me now about 6 or 7 listens to this track for me to really get to grips with it as a whole. It begins with a very Matter of Life and Death - y intro that lasts for about 2 and a half minutes before bursting into a swashbuckling Maiden gallop that doesn't stop, reaching the crescendo of `Westward, the tide.' The melodies and tunes are all very subtle here and are easily dismissed. Stick with this (I was less than enamored even after my 3rd listen) and it will be its own reward.
The Man Who Would Be King - 10/10
Another similar to The Talisman; long and worthy. Following the same epic format, it starts slow and erupts into a metallic saga. Again, the choruses are subtle but you will be humming them in your sleep before long. And the middle section is simply sublime. Very musical. Another huge track.
When The Wild Wind Blows - 10/10
Yet another massive song. 11 minutes of perfect melody with musical twists and turns that accentuate the title wonderfully. It is a sad song but one that suits the source material well. Those expecting another Rime of the Ancient Mariner will be disappointed and it will never eclipse that monster of a song but it carries the album to its end well, tying it all up with a somber tone. Again, it has to be heard to be appreciated.
Whew! The Final Frontier is the most coherent album, in terms of tone and content since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Musically it is closer to Somewhere in Time. It is not their heaviest album but it is certainly not lacking in power and it is definitely the most exciting collection of songs since Brave New World. Another total triumph for the Irons. 15 more please!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!,
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)After the 3rd Listen it became "Unlocked" and I was sucked in and have not stopped playing it since. Just love listening to it and sorting out the mystic meaning's Of "Isle of Avalon" (Probably my favourite track) in the Mystic world of King Arthur. Also think the Final track is a cracker "When The Wild Wind Blows". "The Alchemist" (John Dee? Consultant to Elizabeth 1st)......Just Brilliant this album. If your getting into Maiden for the 1st time Join in the Journey and if you like this album then head back Somewhere in time, and maybe get Seventh Son of a Seventh Son next!? But with so much choice just read a few reviews and see wot comes out on top. Some peoples Meat is another persons poison.....(But in my opinion this is one of the Best!)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick Reviews!,
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)Anyone who has been following by review of all the Iron Maiden albums will notice that I have ecstatically praised everything they have done since Brave New World. With each new album now I await with trepidation, hoping that their run of success continues but not quite being able to cleanse that distant niggling that they should have quit while they were ahead- surely a band who have been at this game for so long cannot keep pumping out albums of such high quality. All the previews had signs which could be construed as worrying- they were going prog again; there were only 10 songs yet it was their longest album to date; the early release of El Dorado sounded a little too by-the-numbers, even if it was energetic enough. On top of that the signs suggested that this could be their last album, what with the title etc. As I held it in my hands for the first time, I was praying that they would prove me wrong.
`Satellite 13'- Many Maiden fans are like many metal fans- they know what they like and what they want and they don't want any deviations from formula. For the opening couple of minutes of this song we largely get what we expect with thumping drums and the same chord blasted over and over. Then something hits the fan. What is this? Other worldly noises? A reverby Bruce floating miles above the moon? Weird effects? Then the drums and guitar start again and Bruce sings strangely over the top. 3 and a half minutes in and we're worrying that the song is going to continue like this throughout- I'm sure quite a few fans were bewildered by this point. Thankfully just before the 4.30 mark the noise pauses and a classic Maiden chord progression bursts out and is followed by the Bruce we all know and love. And lo and behold - a fat chorus sure to be brought close to the hearts of every diehard. Add in a few more verses and blistering solos and we should be happy that the beast is back in town.
`El Dorado' opening as a drum blast morphing from the previous song and complete with chaotic shrieks and guitar noise this is full of interest and promise. The song quickly finds form and becomes a typical Maiden single type song. Harris is back on `tell you a story' style lyrics while Bruce shifts between atmospheric whispers and yelps so the focus is on the theatrical. Given the title and some of the lyrics, the song seems to be about greed and the quest for fabled personal riches- everyone else is getting rich quick so why can't I? There are hints that it is about the economic crisis and others which suggest the fickle nature of instant superstardom from talentless reality shows placed against others who honestly grind at their trade (whether that be music or something more mundane) and get doors slammed in their faces at every turn. Musically it isn't overly exciting, the chorus isn't too memorable, and there isn't anything which grabs outside of the opening and closing moments. I would agree with those reviewers who have said this is the worst song on the album.
`Mother Of Mercy' opens with what will surely become known as a classic Maiden riff. Bruce sings the usual lyrics of war with yearning in his voice as he begs and prays. This section is soft and breaks nicely into a louder verse section. We build to a fine chorus which is repeated enough to break its way into our psyche but doesn't come repetitive. Overall this is a mid-paced epic with enough ideas and add-ons in each section to keep it interesting.
`Coming Home' is my favourite track on the album and has crept its way into my top 20 Maiden songs of all time. This is Maiden at the best- simple lyrics full of emotive and descriptive language, vocal melodies that a thousand bands would kill to emulate, and riffs that young pretenders to their throne can't match. Chuck in a chorus to topple any stadium, a bridge to get a hundred thousand lighters in the sky, acoustic verses, powerful crushing chords, and we get an epic to rival the best in the band's catalogue. Lyrically the song is a tribute to both touring and its end- this is a love song which few bands could write.
`The Alchemist' raises the pace in an album full of, not plodders, but not exactly speed merchants. This is fine and stands out thanks to a strong enough chorus and due to the speed at which it is played. Lyrically we tread shores claimed before but its always nice to hear metal hallmarks done well; Maiden always manage to add sprinkles of humour and dashes of cynicism too so nothing seems overtly cliché. Most fans don't care too much for the lyrics and focus on the music- here it is fast, heavy, riff-laden but not dependant, and with a thirsty solo for good measure.
`Isle Of Avalon' is a haunting, cyclical song which swirls and builds- one of those types which I'm a sucker for. I love any song which builds atmospherically, repeating but growing in potential with each loop before an inevitable collapse or explosion. This one fits the mould and is one of the better in the Maiden cannon. There is expertise here and many signs that the band are doing whatever the hell they want- if they want to continue looping and building for four minutes then that's exactly what they will do, tearing every ounce of tension from every note. When we get the break it is exhilarating with Bruce sounding like it's '84 all over again. We get a groovy riff section so the crowd can get their dancing shoes on before revolving back to the old looping section again. Top structure, top playing, top song.
`Starblind' has an intro with a synthesized feel similar to many tracks from Somewhere In Time. This makes way for a harsher, thrash style series of verses followed by big hitting chorus. It's a 2 part chorus really, the anthemic part first, the groovy part second. There isn't a lot else to say here, it's another great track and one which could have been a big single. I love the guitar parts which drift along in the background, I love the shift in tempo and style around the 4 min mark, and I love the powerful melodies of the chorus. This is moody, adventurous Maiden at their best.
`The Talisman' is another epic in an album full of lengthy tracks. What is different about this one then? That's really down to the listener. We get a story style acoustic intro with Dickinson singing about leaving the land and travelling out to sea and freedom. The sound is evocative, the moments of double vocals coupled with the whispery delivery and the haunting guitars create a fully realized world. Then the song explodes into life as the lyrics apparently describe some of storm. The words here don't matter here too much as opposed to the music and the playing which are excellent throughout. The structure of the song is inventive with verses or sections of differing length bombarding you from all angles; the chorus as I suppose it should be called lets Bruce explore the furthest reaches of his lungs and there is an older, raspier quality to his voice when the shrieks now, again qualifying the mood. At 6 minutes or so there is the obligatory instrumental section, this one coming with guitars which sound like timber collapsing or F1 cars speeding past. You'll understand when you hear it.
`The Man Who Would Be King' continues the soft introduction style with visions of a lone guitar wielding desperado playing to the sunset on a cliff edge. Cheesy, but evocative and well drawn classic Maiden nonetheless. Let the notes drip in and don't worry about what your Top Shop friends are thinking. Anyway, the opening moments are blown away by the fury of the `second introduction'; furious drums and dueling guitars blowing open a pathway for a fast paced verse/chorus section. Once again the band find the perfect melody for the structure and deliver it in the best way possible. Before you catch your breath the song shifts suddenly into a bizarre instrumental section with more ideas than any British guitar band of the moment you could name could fit in their entire discography. It changes pace, more visions spring to mind, the three guitarists all playing different styles and speeds, but somehow melding together before morphing back to the verse/chorus section. The final minute is not typical Maiden with some softer soothing `oohs' and a refrain from Bruce accompanied by a lone guitar.
`When The Wild Wind Blows' is sure to go down in Maiden history thanks to one of the best, most instantly grabbing riffs. The song begins it's near 11 minute run with 40 seconds of atmospheric distortion befre that riff kicks in softly. Bruce sings along with lyrics about fear, media, the end of the world feeling which punctuates all areas of society at the moment. So far, so awesome. And then it gets better as the rest of the band of join in, joining a salute to mindlessness, to resilience, a call to one and all to stick their middle fingers up at the harbingers of doom. The middle section is just as immediate with sublime melodies and fond lyrics and we then get a section of solo twiddling madness. Still 5 minutes to go though, so let the madness continue; The groove shifts again with a harsher, military sound full of bitter humour and biting satire coming to the forefront before somehow returning to the opening seconds and the return of the now famous riff and a fantastic ending lyric.
While I didn't enjoy this as much as AMOLAD, it is still an uncompromising album of riffs, melodies, ideas, themes, and is played with the ferocity and urgency of youth yet with the wisdom of age and experience. Once again the band have struck gold and continue to amaze with their ability to rip such great and complex songs from their minds and equally keep them fresh and classic Maiden sounding. The band have since expressed their hope to keep recording and touring so once again the old feeling of worry comes back- should they quit or can they keep up this pace? I think that in the end you should dismiss Maiden at your own peril; all of my doubts have repeatedly proven to be unfounded and the band continue to make me look like a fool. Then again, those worries are far in the back of my head having been blown to tiny specks of insignificance by the power of Eddie and the boys. More please.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super awesome stuff,
But my favourites have got to be the last two songs. <3
I also recommend listening to Starblind, Coming Home and The Alchemist. Those are really great!
UP THE IRONS!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prog Metal,
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of maiden's best,
Plus the album reached number one in the UK charts this week so don't miss it!
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