THE RETURN OF IRON MAIDEN
I have always said my two favorite bands of all time are Kiss and Iron Maiden. Although I love these bands, I am also hyper-critical of them as well. I was not a fan of the band’s last album Book Of Souls. The songs were way too long for me, and for the first time ever, Iron Maiden started borrowing riffs, and melodies from their past. And not just in one song to pay homage to their past, it was all over the album. Couple that with singing about monkeys climbing trees, to me it was like going to a serious news outlet looking for the punchline to a joke.
The band had obviously for the first time cut and pasted a lot of things on the album, like for example “Empire Of The Clouds”. At least it was the first time it became apparent. This is something the band scoffed at back in the 80s about not needing to do. They made fun of bands that needed to punch in to record various segments of their guitar solos. They claimed it was something they never needed to do. Yet, Adrian Smith has copped to the fact that indeed they have done that on this new album. I find this to be very hypocritical. Pass judgment on someone when it suits you, but doing exactly what you’re saying is wrong, also when it suits you.
I do like this album much more than Book Of Souls. It feels more original, with a slight nod to the past, which is fine, so long as it isn’t all over the place. But this album also reminds me of A Matter Of Life And Death. In the sense that there isn’t one song that really jumps out at me instantly. That album took me several listens to really get into, but there are tracks off of that album that I still play today.
“Stratego” and “Days Of Future Past” are probably the two that jump out at me the most. They’re the closest thing you’ll find to classic Maiden on the album. I don’t expect anything off of this album to replace “Revelations” or “Drifter” or any of the other classics that I still play to death. But a track like “Coming Home” off of Final Frontier has slotted nicely into my Iron Maiden playlist. And maybe after a few months, more songs off of this album will also make it into my Maiden rotation.
What sticks out at me right away about this album is it is too long. Length doesn’t equal prog to me, it never has. There is a fine line between knowing when to add “Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner”, to give an album that knockout blow. And just having an album full of “To Tame A Land”. Both tracks worked on their respective albums because you had other tracks to balance them out.
Now we’re just opening an entire jar of pepper and dumping the entire contents of the condiment on a steak. Where in the past it was lightly sprinkled on. With the band trying to flavor things just right.
Bruce Dickinson recently talked about how people were going to listen to this and say something to the effect of “is that Iron Maiden or the Moody Blues”. Why would I want to hear that in Iron Maiden? Why would I look to Iron Maiden to be Wishbone Ash? Why would I want them to be Marillion? If I want to hear those bands, I’ll just listen to those bands.
Bruce’s voice is brick-walled on certain tracks. It makes it sound as if his voice is blown in places, while it’s fine in others. Back to my pepper comment from above. Why was there balance on those classic Maiden albums? I’m starting to think Martin Birch had a lot more to do with the band being who they are than maybe they realize. Bruce recently talked about Metallica’s Black Album, and how as good as the album is, they could never work with a structured producer like Bob Rock. And therein lies at least to me as a fan, Iron Maiden’s problem.
This statement by Bruce demonstrates that Kevin Shirley is little more than someone recording the band. A yes man that does whatever the band wants. Is Bruce now telling us that Martin Birch never told them “that bit is rubbish, let’s get rid of it”? He never chimed in and gave the band direction? He did this with Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath, but not Iron Maiden?
I have been saying for years that I’d love them to work with Andy Sneap or Nick Raskulinecz. Why? Because both producers have been able to capture bands like Rush, Testament, and Judas Priest sonically better than anyone else has been able to do in years. They have also been able to work with the bands to right their ships and get them exactly where they need to be.
I love the band, but after Brave New World they’ve been very hit and miss for me. They have released some great songs, but a lot of boring long ones as well. And people that love this band, with blinders on, and accept everything they release or say, you can’t criticize Metallica for releasing songs that are too long, and then give Maiden a pass.
Ultimately, listen to the album, and decide for yourself. The album isn’t bad, but it’s kind of more of the same as we’ve come to expect from the band. I have no problem with a long song here and there, but every song having to be “1812 Overture” is a bit much for me. To me, it is no different than an instrumental guitarist just soloing on a track for several minutes straight. After all, it’s what they’re doing on a lot of these tracks. Non-critical fans will still lap this album up.
If you’re a fan of the band you obviously need to check the album out.
Here is Iron Maiden with "Days Of Future Past":
Check out Senjutsu by Iron Maiden
Not sure whether this album is for you or not? Check it out on Spotify, Apple Music, or Bandcamp below.
Bokassa is a Norwegian band. Molotov Rocktail is the band’s third album and their first on Napalm Records. The band mixes aspects of stoner rock, catchy melodies, elements of sludgy thick guitars, and at times post-rockesque vocals. If you love Scandinavian hard rock like Turbonegro, The Hellacopters, D.A.D., and such, this is an album I recommend checking out.
Here is Bokassa with "Burn it All (P.T.S.D.E.A.D)":
Check out Molotov Rocktail by Bokassa
Check out the album before picking it up on Spotify or Apple Music. You can also pick it up directly from Frontiers, or from my Amazon Affiliates links below.
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