A matter of life and death.

Welcome to the review of Iron Maiden’s new offering. With daring constant themes of war and misusing religion to cause it , this may seem as a concept album. It isn’t that, although it is actually very close. As can be seen from the cover artwork down to the lyrics, this is a full-scale attack on the futility of it all. Contrary to their previous efforts, there seems to have been some serious thought put into this album.

I think that two of the tracks that stand out are ‘The Longest Day’ and ‘These Colours Don’t Run’. I can see the Longest Day as a stand-out in live shows while Colours is magnificent.

‘For The Greater Good Of God’ bleeds into another big arena swinger , with changing tempos and three way lead solos that will leave you quaking. It’s another Maiden classic that does not compromise heaviness in achieving its nine-minute span. Nine minutes! There are actually five tracks over seven minutes long , and two niners.

‘The Pilgrim’ and opener ‘Different World’ are straight to the balls standard rockers, while Bruce lets go with an amazing vocal performance on the balladic ‘Out of the Shadows’.

I’m sure many fans will revel in the gallop and surge of ‘Brighter Than A Thousand Suns’, Steve Harris’ bass twanging high in the mix, while the closing track, ‘The Legacy’ – concluding the theme of war breeding more war – features a call-to-arms fanfare of electric guitars blaring intermittently through movie soundtrack ambience and acoustics.

I think that Iron Maiden have really bitten the bullet with this album. I am sure that many will not find it too palatable, but long time fans will surely persevere beyond the first two spinnings of the CD. Because I honestly did not like it at all!!! Yep , there I was on my bed listening to the CD through headphones, and I really had to check the CD Display to see whether the tracks were really advancing.

Why? There is a ‘sameness’ to the tracks, especially the intros and choruses. This is something that I have been noticing when Bailey replaced Dickinson as singer. ‘Brave New World’ and the (really good) ‘Dance of Death’ confirmed this trend. The latter had ‘Rainmaker’ which really stood out in the old style of Iron Maiden. Musically of course, hats off to the guys…so I will treat this cd as a concept when I am listening to it. Obviously on subsequent spins, the album grows on you. I can guarantee that.

Maiden are gradually evolving into a different breed of metallers. Any old rocker worth his salt remembers the galloping and so ‘tuneful’ Run to the Hills , The Trooper , Somewhere in Time and similar tracks. I miss those days so much , but the guys are thankfully moving on…as it should be.

On a high note, I am really enjoying the way that many ‘big guns’ are recording their albums these days. No laying down of individual tracks, but a ‘live’ studio performance where the band plays all at once. I think that this sounds really good on the final product, and the emotion of playing is transmitted to the listener at a broader level.

The conclusion? I feel that new Maiden fans will struggle to get to grips with this album , but for us seasoned rockers, another grand album that is worth every cent….thanks guys!

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