Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
on 30 September 2010
Maiden's fourth album would build upon what they had created with Number Of The Beast, giving fans another set of metal anthems. This was another huge album for the group received well by fans and critics, and selling millions around the world. Nicko McBrain joined as new drummer and remains to this day setting in place the classic line-up. After the success of their last album the band had garnered a huge following, but due to their rise to success they had also acquired an army of critics- parents, politicians, and other media types who accused them of devil worship and other treats; metal was on the verge of it's golden era and Maiden were front and centre. The band have never hidden themselves from controversy and include a few humorous references to these criticisms throughout the album. This more than any other album shows the band's love for art and literature and they manage to blend a myriad of influences and references into both hit singles and expansive epics.
`Where Eagles Dare' introduces us to Nicko with the group letting him open the album. After a splattering of drums a clattering riff starts before Dickinson chimes in at his most air raid siren style. The lyrics and themes are based on the film and book of the same name and cover the usual fare of war and bravery. The overlapping riffs, drums, and effects give a new wall of sound style that the band had not tried before. The dual attack is perfected on this album more than any, and this song highlights the harmony amongst the band as they tried ever more complex constructions.
`Revelations' opens with stadium chords showing a band full of confidence. Things slow to sludge tempo as the band go Sabbath on us. Dickinson is again on top form, bottomless lungs providing some great vocals. There is tenderness here, the dual guitars work extremely well, and once again the song never stays in one place. We get changes of pace, more F-Zero solos, shifts in tone, and all manner of ideas. Dickinson adapts many of Alastair Crowley's ideas into lyrics as the themes cover bargaining and fate.
`Flight Of Icarus' continues with the huge guitars and riffs. We have an ominous tone and a trotting rhythm to symbolize the inevitability of the character's death. This was a fairly successful single for the band helped by a big chorus which audiences could lap up, and thanks to the classic rock imagery and style it reached a wider audience- no mention of devils or demons to worry about here. Also, it ends on a classic Dickinson wail which is always nice.
`Die With Your Boots On' opens in top gear with competing guitars trying to reach the end of the riff first. The climbing melody of the guitars coupled with the pace gives a breathless song, while Dickinson belts out some war propagandist lyrics. Another classic chorus follows and the song as a whole works as a perfect partner to the next song- both clever takes on the theme.
`The Trooper' opens with one of the band's most famous riffs, a lightning fast double attack which continues throughout marking this as one of their best songs. Based on the Charge Of The Light Brigade it is a warning against war, a snarling tribute to the men who kill and are killed for their countries. The rhythm is clearly meant to evoke the image of horses galloping into battle, the lack of a chorus showing that the clash continues always without break, turning point, or winner. Maybe that's a stretch, but for the single to be a decent hit without a chorus is quite an achievement.
`Still Life' slows the album from the frenetic pace it has followed from the start. The rest of the album, starting from here follows a wider range of influences and styles hinting at the more progressive sounds the band would soon adopt. Opening with some funny background fun from Nicko (to further terrify censors) this turns with a midnight, skyscraper played solo into a more subtle epic. This one is often forgotten by fans but it just definitely be re-examined. The chorus my not be the best, but everything that surrounds it is great.
`Quest For Fire' opens with an ascent and descent of guitars before some silly lyrics and over theatrical vocals. This ends up sounding most like Spinal Tap and brings down the authenticity of the rest of the album. Melodically it is fine, there is nothing wrong with the playing, but with a few changes it could have been a much better song.
`Sun And Steel' brings back the galloping rhythm, the lyrics this time focusing on Samurais, in particular Miyamoto Musashi. The verses are fine here while the chorus edges towards classic rock territory again. This is another good album track which people usually pass over, nothing outstanding but still woth another listen.
`To Tame A Land' is Maiden's epic based on Dune. We have distant winds blowing, lonely solos, and eventually crunching guitars and bass over some Eastern rhythms. The verses aren't particularly exciting, but the instrumental sections between are strong. Everything is constantly building and threatening to explode, and Dickinson reaches some ridiculous levels with his vocals. Once the pace picks up the song gets stronger and proves an effect end to arguably the band's best album.
At this point in their career Iron Maiden could do no wrong, and no amount of negativity or pressure from certain groups could slow down their momentum. While this album shows signs of branching out into different areas of music this shows the band paying tribute to some of their heroes- Sabbath, Zeppelin, and some of the other monsters of the Seventies. There is no doubt that this is metal, but there is clearly a classic rock core. From now onwards the band would be more progressive, weaving wilder epics and more expansive sounds. This is another must for fans.