3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
These are the voyages...,
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This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)Firstly, to get it out of the way, I must gush about how great it is to have Iron Maiden back on top of their game, this far into their career. The album may say The Final Frontier but I hope we haven't heard the last of them just yet. Especially when they keep rolling out epics like these every 3 or 4 years. As someone whose first metal album was the awesome Piece of Mind (unaware that not all music was that good), it is such a great feeling to hear a new album that can compare to many of their classic `80s output. Secondly, this is not an album to devour on the first sitting. Give it a generous 5 or 6 spins. It'll be worth it. Only then will the album open up and reveal more than first expected.
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!
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Sep 2010 11:38:01 BDT
N. Messenger says:
I so agree; 'Starblind' is definitely one of the jewels on this album.
Posted on 25 Sep 2010 17:59:29 BDT
N. Wills says:
Great review mate, totally agree with you. Enjoyed reading your opinions on the tracks, as you say its not every day you get a chance!! As somebody else said this album really needs to be savoured, a good few listens and then you can really appreciate the genius that is Iron Maiden.
In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2011 15:40:52 BDT
You're very kind thank you. It is a great feeling when there's new Maiden material. And even better when it's this good!
Posted on 4 Oct 2011 00:45:32 BDT
MicHaeL H. says:
Sheesh, you're surely generous with your ratings aren't you?
Iron Maiden is very important band to me, and I don't criticize easily, but this albums is a boring disappointment.
Giving perfect scores for almost every single track is very optimistic, but I couldn't give each more than 2-3 stars (out of 5) and the same for the whole album.
You can hate on me all you like, but this album is really not up to par. I just don't know what they were thinking.
A similar situation with "AMOLAD", but that album is still reasonable. They just need to look back at 'Brave New World' for example. That was epic...
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Oct 2011 14:26:34 BDT
Yes I am generous with my ratings as I happen to agree that the album deserves high praise. You are perfectly within your rights to disagree with my review but that's what makes life so interesting - everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. Just because I say a song is worth 10/10 does not actually make it so, it is merely an expression of how good I personally believe it to be. I am absolutely certain that you will not be the only one with the view that it is not a great album. In fact it would be a very strange world if this was not the case.
In reply to an earlier post on 14 Oct 2011 04:22:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Oct 2011 04:22:32 BDT
MicHaeL H. says:
Well, I don't mean to be offensive.
But my point is just that I'm surprised that when a band like Iron Maiden makes such... I don't know how to describe it, I guess "boring" songs,
and I say that in a way that it's partially my opinion, but also if you look at their earlier work, one might say it's in fact not up to their own standards,
that someone still gives it such high ratings.
It could be a personal thing, but if you really give it a serious look, I thought when someone would think this is a good album, they wouldn't rate it more than a 7-8 each track, especially in comparison with their earlier work (and any of it).
It's not to me about if you can have your own opinion. That's fine, that's indeed how it works.
I'm just saying I'm very surprised that this does get such high praise, regardless of my own opinion.
It's almost as if they only get praise for the principle of still existing and once again coming out with an album.
Not saying that you do that, but it just seems like that in general.
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Nov 2011 10:53:13 GMT
Agreed - don't worry no offense was taken :).
My point was more towards the ambiguity of preference. Yes, you may be completely right that everyone rates this highly simply because it exists and the anticipation outweighed any critical objectivity. It is not my favourite Maiden album. For me it is hard to pick one from their first 7 as I see them all as being of equal quality. And their recent 4 albums are different but I rate them as highly still.
I have the same reaction as you to other albums on this website that is obvious are being rated by completely biased individuals. But that is their prerogative. Quality is a very difficult aspect of a 'thing' to measure unless it is in reference to food, health or service (and even then can be variable). As someone who has studied how to criticise text and other material, the process of reviewing really only hinges on a personal preference; an academic criticism would only really focus on themes, methods, writing, any outside influences pertaining to or influencing its creation and compare these to either past works or other artists. There would be no 'like' or 'hate' or 'it's ok'.
People like what they like. And I do agree - that can be quite bewildering sometimes :). Cheers for commenting.
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