Iron Maiden, born from the mind of Steve Harris in East London, has written the fundamental rules of classic metal through a long career that has taken them from the small pubs to the great stadiums and arenas.
Iron Maiden was the band that, first and foremost, brought the extreme sounds of heavy metal to the masses. They started from small suburban pubs to go straight to the big stadiums of mainstream bands. They are among the main exponents of that great explosion of new groups called the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). It was a musical movement born in a phase of great economic difficulty in the United Kingdom, with very high levels of poverty and unemployment, elements that become the substratum ideal for a strong feeling of youthful anger.
Iron Maiden take their cue from the hard-rock of UFOs and Thin Lizzy, accentuate the violence of the sounds of Judas Priest and Motorhead, dip into the hard-prog complexities of Rush and use the themes of the macabre universe of Black Sabbath.
Their poetry is that of the outcast, the wanderer of the big cities, the angry young man not aware of the real reasons for his malaise, aimless wandering in a society that marginalizes him. Maiden’s themes tend to be associated with contemporary bands such as Sex Pistols or Clash with which they confront in their beginnings. Theirs is a fundamentally nihilistic creed, like in much of the metal world.
The protagonists of their songs are, at least in the early years, alcoholics and prostitutes, the last of a fossilized society that makes any form of redemption impossible. The only possible outlet to exorcise the violence of which we feel victims is to recreate its brutality in music, the only possible tool for redemption and emancipation.
Despite such a degraded social substratum, they have managed to write the foundations and establish the coordinates of what will be called classic metal. In their long career the sound of the band, albeit in various evolutions, will always remain linked to the tradition of 70s rock (NWOBHM, hard-rock, progressive) without ever being influenced by the new forms of extreme metal of the 80s or 90s (thrash, black, death, etc).
Steve Harris“The formations that arose recently are aimed at a new generation, for which they represent what Zeppelin or Deep Purple represented for the current 25-year-olds. However, compared to the old bands, the new heavy rockers are distinguished by a much more pronounced aggressiveness; especially live, they are really “physically” aggressive.“
Iron Maiden – The Beginning
Founded in 1975 by the brilliant bassist Steve Harris, creative mind and inexhaustible volcano of ideas, Maiden’s infancy was lived in the midst of the punk explosion – from which they take aggression and mostly aesthetics. Iron Maiden takes and evolves different elements with intelligence and professionalism: background from Black Sabbath (darkness), UFO (violence), Thin Lizzy (harmonizations), Deep Purple (technique and alternating solos by two guitarists instead of guitar and keyboard), finding a synthesis of the main NWOBHM bands (Saxon, Angel Witch, Samson, etc.) without disdaining – in the second half of the 80s – ambitious compositions bordering on progressive.
After initial changes, the line-up stabilized with Paul Di’Anno (vocals), Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton (guitar), Steve Harris (bass), and Clive Burr (drums). The first recordings are collected in The Soundhouse Tapes (1979), a small Ep of only three songs that makes them sort of a cult in the underground world.
Paul Di’Anno“I was very young and very confident in myself, but I was also confident in Steve’s abilities. I remember, in my first concert, getting on stage and watching it I thought: “Here we are! We will become the greatest metal band on the planet!”
Iron Maiden with Paul Di’Anno
The debut “Iron Maiden” (April 14, 1980) signals a band endowed with extraordinary technical skill and energy (metal element) enriched by visionary urban brutality (punk element). The number of masterpiece pieces present is impressive. “Prowler” starts immediately with unusual violence and becomes the manifesto of the lonely wanderer. The solo lasts just twenty seconds, but it is so fast and wild that it immediately makes it clear that you are faced with something completely different.
“Remember Tomorrow” alternates slow arpeggios, poetic lyrics, and furious guitar fugues and becomes one of their great classics. At the same time, gothic worlds considered similar are recalled: “Phantom Of The Opera” shows the compositional maturity and complexity of a progressive group. Times vary from minute to minute, the structure of the song evolves continuously and speed is by no means the only key element but becomes just one of the many that make it a model for anyone who wants to approach metal.
“Transylvania” is their first instrumental track, a phenomenal visionary journey in an imaginary horror / gothic way, where the dualism between the two guitarists becomes fundamental (Murray more direct and violent, Stratton more complex and articulated). It is a paradox that confirms the genius of the young Harris that, despite the speed at the limit, the song manages to evoke dark landscapes and literary texts. “Running Free” is the simplest track of the lot and is marked with a liberating sense that is not easy to find in most metal bands. Di’Anno’s thug voice is almost autobiographical when he screams the story of derelict and abandoned alcoholics (“we spent the night in a Los Angeles jail”) and the race to nowhere is symbolic of a need for freedom that does not it has the means to authentically fulfill itself. For heavy metal, it’s what “Born To Be Wild” had been for hippies.
“Charlotte The Harlot” goes from thugs to prostitutes, with vulgar and male-dominated lyrics and guitar machine guns. “Strange World” is wonderfully anomalous in the band’s discography, slow and poetic as an attempt to escape from reality, but rich in craft and concreteness. “Iron Maiden” closes the album like a stab in the chest and becomes one of their immortal symbols. A perfect concentrate of psychotic violence (“Do you want to enter my room? I want to show you all my things, I want to see your blood, stand still and look. Wherever you are the iron maiden will take you, no matter how far”) and rhythms schizophrenics, in which the band self-nominating itself in advance as if to foreshadow a rosy future.
The second album – Killers (1981) – was preceded by the release of three singles. The first one, “Sanctuary”, with an incredibly powerful and transgressive cover, with the monster Eddie intent on killing a woman in the likeness of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The second and third, “Women In Uniform” and “Invasion”, are definitely in the punk territory, in which the hated Thatcher returns in police uniform with a truncheon and fascist attitude, waiting to beat up a bizarre Eddie in a playboy version.
The Iron Maiden show what could be called their ideal line, an intolerance to power and a hymn to formally hedonistic or pack freedom, certainly not collective, but vaguely anti-totalitarian.
The album is a new classic of world heavy metal that finds its absolute pinnacle in the phenomenal title track, centered on Di’Anno’s scream that follows a memorable intro by Harris’s bass. The killer becomes the alter ego of a generation that responds to institutionalized violence with illogical and unmotivated violence (“My innocent victims are massacred by my anger”), an end in itself because it lacks cultural tools to be elaborated.
The album opens with the small jewel of just one minute and forty-six seconds “The Ides Of March”, with powerful and march rhythms. “Wrathchild” (“Son of anger”), one of the most successful, follows the same path as ” Killers “, with a fast and violent bass attack and typically punk-minded lyrics (” I was born between anger and greed, domination and persecution, my mother was a queen, my father never saw him “). gothic quotes from the first album, this time with Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Murders In The Rue Morgue”, with an atmospheric intro and subsequent guitar outburst. “Genghis Khan” is the new instrumental (unfortunately they will almost completely lose this habit) similar to the previous “Transylvania”, with memorable guitar weaves.
“Another Life” and “Innocent Exile” are two clone-songs with the same poetics of the derelict disowned by society (“My life is so empty, nothing to live for, my mind is in complete confusion”). Paul Di’Anno’s scream becomes catharsis, therapy for the unbearable pain of living. “Purgatory” is the new “Charlot The Harlot”, very fast, pure speed metal with a shocking rhythm section.
Enter Bruce Dickinson
In the meantime, the success of the band increases exponentially. They start their first world tour and leave a testimony in the live Maiden Japan (1981). Iron Maiden, however, are radically changing, the street kid with alcohol and drug problems Paul Di’Anno, an icon of the most authentic metal singer, cannot bear the transition from a cult band for small clubs to a group of tireless professionals.
Divorce becomes inevitable when Harris meets then Samson singer Bruce Dickinson at the 1981 Reading Festival. The big bang is ready, while the characteristics of Dickinson’s voice expand the potential of the band on the one hand, on the other, they represent the end of their most artistically valid season. Eddie is no longer the metropolitan thug who identifies with the social problems of his generation, but becomes a brand to be exported all over the world, to be exhibited in the most disparate future covers (from ancient Egypt to Dante’s hell, from war to science fiction up to horror).
The Number of the Beast
One part of the metal scene begins to become institutionalized, another takes refuge in even harder sounds – for example, among the very first, Venom with “Welcome To Hell” (1981) – which will become the seed from which the most extreme metal will sprout. Iron Maiden are definitely on the first side and The Number Of The Beast (1982) is the key to becoming the most famous metal band in the world. If Paul Di’Anno is a misfit overflowing with cursed poetry, Bruce Dickinson is an impeccable professional. However, it is undeniable that in this album there are at least three masterpieces (“Hallowed Be Thy Name”, “22 Acacia Avenue” and “Children Of The Damned”, of which the first is probably the greatest of their career) and three great classics of their discography (“The Number Of The Beast”, “Run To The Hills” and “The Prisoner”).
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” is an absolute summary of their poetics, both for the complexity of the music (overlapping guitar at the limit of prog, a song that develops in alternating phases), and for the lyrics (the last minutes of a death row inmate’s life) The initial tolling of bells, Dickinson’s screams of despair and, from the fourth minute, the massive explosion of rage with subsequent guitars and bass escape for all that avant-garde metal.
“22 Acacia Avenue” is the continuation of the story of the prostitute of “Charlot The Harlot”, but decidedly more elaborate and complex. Between continuous variations of rhythm and moments of the real break with the rock tradition, the song proceeds with hard and direct lyrics but is endowed with a profound existentialist ethic that finds a solution in escape, the only possibility of realization and redemption. It is the return of the Maiden to the tale of the derelict, to the street life they had sung obsessively on their first two albums.
“Children Of The Damned” – loosely based on the science fiction short story “The Midwich Cuckoos” by writer John Wyndham, from which the phenomenal 1960 film “Village of the Damned” is based – is a gaunt and desolate ballad that rises to symphonic peaks of solitude summarized by Dickinson’s warm embrace to the damned of the title (metaphorically the hopeless adolescents of the abandoned suburbs).
“The Number Of The Beast”, becomes a classic of heavy metal, placing Eddie in a satanic context suitable for the masses (ie very far from the strictly underground visceral Satanism of the nascent extreme metal). “Run To The Hills” is a hymn to freedom perfect for live shows, while “The Prisoner” refers to the British science fiction television series.
The Impact of the first 3
The legacy of the first three Iron Maiden albums is enormous; starting from an innovative (if not revolutionary) movement, the band writes the basic rules of what is now called classic metal.
Harris’s band is now a well-oiled machine with increasingly spectacular live performances. This extreme professionalism creates another victim after Paul Di’Anno. Clive Burr is sacrificed for essentially unknown reasons; during the tour in the States, he is forced to return to England for fifteen days due to the sudden death of his father. The most likely cause is that Harris couldn’t stand the bizarre and extreme behaviors as well as the alcohol addiction of both DiAnno and Burr, for him the band had to be made up of professionals who had nothing to do with alcohol and drugs.
The farewell of Clive Burr and the great success
Clive Burr“I had to go home because my father died of a heart attack at 57. After two weeks I returned to the States. The situation was tense. There was a meeting and they told me it was time for a change. I was out of the band!”
In 1983 Maiden released “Piece Of Mind” with new drummer Nicko McBrain. The new LP represents an obvious turning point. Iron Maiden are purged of any residue of Di’Anno’s ideas to enter a new phase of their career, where Dickinson imposes new ideas. No more psychopathic thugs full of rage but war heroes, no more abandoned suburbs but battlefields where to praise heroic gestures, no more quotes from gothic literature but journeys into science fiction or mythology. The sound becomes more compact and heavy, the lyrics are hymns to heroism in battle, they begin to use the special effects of machine gun sounds and the lives become more and more majestic. In a word, Maiden’s music becomes epic.
The mighty “Where Eagles Dare”, one of the band’s hardest and most repetitive songs, praises the audacity of WWII aviators and is part of a war trilogy also composed by the very fast “The Trooper”, their live workhorse, and “Die With Your Boots On”, which begins with an incredible guitar riff.
“Quest For Fire” changes scenery: we are in an imaginary prehistoric world where humans and dinosaurs coexist. The rhythm and the voice of Dickinson are striking, which seems to tell a story rather than singing, in an attempt at metal with influences of medieval music that will partially recur in the song “The Prophecy” three years later. “Flight Of Icarus” plays on the card of mythology and is a hymn to courage and tenacity to achieve impossible feats.
There are also at least two masterpieces here, the phenomenal “Revelations” with texts inspired by the London writer G.K. Chesterton, swinging with continuous accelerations and decelerations in progressive territory and a final escape in full Maiden style. But the masterpiece is undoubtedly “To Tame A Land”, dedicated to the “Dune” saga of science fiction writer Frank Herbert (who scornfully refused Harris’ request to use “Dune” as the title). A song that makes history and becomes a model to be imitated for generations of metal bands.
Eddie is now an image that can be exported anywhere. Placing him in a totally alien context such as ancient Egypt is not surprising. Although the Iron Maiden brand has vastly pushed the boundaries of metal, Harris’ creativity does not seem to give up.
“Powerslave” (1984) is yet another great job in just five years. The total split between what they represent aesthetically (violence, war, skulls, zombies) and what they are in reality (impeccable professionals) is now clear. “Aces High” continues Dickinson’s passion for world war air battles, “Flash Of The Blade” begins with yet another perfect riff and becomes part of the soundtrack of Dario Argento’s “Phenomena”. “Losfer Words” returns to instrumental tracks with skill and class, but unfortunately it will be the last of their career. “Back In The Village” reaches speeds almost to the limit of delirium, while the famous “2 Minutes To Midnight”, about a hypothetical nuclear apocalypse, becomes their umpteenth success with the public thanks to a powerful and catchy riff.
The best comes in the two most elaborate and complex tracks, a path that Harris is now pursuing with determination. The seven minutes of “Powerslave” are Dickinson’s masterpiece, a long journey into the obsession of death, majestic and gloomy at the same time. “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” (thirteen minutes), based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s short story, is Iron Maiden’s longest track to date. Emotional, with literary ambitions, he is capable of making the protagonist’s despair perceive in a tangible way (“Water, water everywhere, water everywhere and no drops to drink”). The recitation of Coleridge’s lyrics is followed by a truly irrepressible metal explosion which represents one of the compositional peaks of the band.
Here come the synths
Iron Maiden are now a live machine of extraordinary efficiency. Concerts for three hundred thousand spectators would be the envy of any mainstream artist. The “World Slavery Tour” lasts more than a year and the historic “Live After Death” (1985) testifies to it, with a charge even higher than the studio works.
Somewhere in Time
After a short hiatus, they return with “Somewhere In Time” (1986) which represents a new turning point, this time the most difficult and divisive for extremist fans of pure metal. We pass from Egypt to an imaginary future, presumably in the universe of “Blade Runner”. Eddie is no longer a street hooligan but seems to be an ultra-tech policeman with a trigger-happy shot (the cover looks like an overturned version of “Killers”, which once again testifies to the radical change of perspective compared to Di’Anno).
The real turning point comes from an idea of Adrian Smith, namely that of expanding the sound of Maiden so as not to risk over the years becoming a sort of cover band of themselves. Looking ahead with determination is the motto, “somewhere in time” is what comes out. The idea is acceptable but is not easily accepted; Harris takes a week to decide, Dickinson threatens to leave the band but Smith eventually convinces everyone.
The futuristic metal of “Caught Somewhere In Time” makes diehard fans (at least initially) turn up their noses, horrified at the sound of synths, but it actually works perfectly. From the intro to the final solos to Dickinson’s singing, the piece consistently continues the evolutionary path begun years earlier.
“Stranger In A Strange Land”, inspired by the novel by Robert A. Heinlein, slows down to almost metal-pop, with a powerful and evocative riff. It is probably the most original moment on the album. Together with “Wasted Years”, it marks the end of the spirit of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in a way, but it doesn’t sound like a betrayal at all, but a necessary evolution.
“The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” and the epic “Alexander The Great” play cards already used previously, while the remaining songs, while dignified, do not seem to live up to their history (among these tracks as “Heaven Can Wait ”Seem written only with live performance choirs in mind).
The proto-prog-metal concept
This evolutionary path finds its apex in the concept “Seventh Son Of The Seventh Son” (1988), in which the influences of progressive-rock strongly emerge (there are above all affinities with Genesis and Marillion but not only) that crowns a virtuous path born years before. The result represents an ideal missing link with the recently born progressive-metal, which in those years was finding shape thanks to the important work of American groups such as Fates Warning and Queensryche, as well as the bases previously provided by the prog-hard-rock of Rush.
The record, in hindsight, will also influence progressive-metal bands that came in the following decade who cited it as one of their sources of inspiration (it was released six years before Dream Theater’s “Images And Words”, for example) and in this sense can be considered a precursor to them.
This approach to progressive finds its point of arrival in two songs in particular: the title track (ten minutes), with an inexorable rhythm, epic, and atmospheric accompaniment keyboards and a memorable instrumental finale that becomes an instruction manual for future prog-metal bands (and beyond), and the epic metal ballad “Infinite Dreams”, with poetic lyrics on the dualism of life/death, initial slow pace, and final explosion. “The Clairvoyant” begins with a memorable bass intro and then becomes yet another classic of live performances, while “The Prophecy” recalls the trend of “Quest For Fire”.
Adrian Smith leaves. A return to the past.
Nicko McBrain“Adrian did not agree with the musical direction we wanted to take. Bruce had done his solo album with Janick and spoke very highly of him. When things started going downhill with Adrian, it almost made sense to ask Janick.”
From this moment on, the long path of change started by The Number Of The Beast onwards suddenly stops. Smith leaves the band, probably due to differences of opinion, and embarks on a solo career. Dickinson also releases a solo LP, “Tattooed Millionaire”, where he meets guitarist Janick Gers who takes over from Smith. The result is “No Prayer For The Dying” (1990), a LP that clearly shows the reasons for Smith’s abandonment.
This return to the past is above all a mistake from a conceptual point of view (going back in the field of art is in itself wrong) and does not leave its mark as – for the first time – Harris does not find an alternative way to go and attempts an impossible return to the early days. But it is quite evident that a band of millionaire professionals cannot possibly be what it was when playing street metal in semi-deserted pubs. It is the first misstep after seven top-level albums, a small flaw in an enviable career.
The best thing is the cover (fantastic), but there is something else to save. “The Assassin” could be the “Killers” of the 90s, “Bring Your Daughter … To The Slaughter” is a good metal song with horror movie lyrics, while the title track is an attempt to recall the glories of “Hallowed Be Thy Name ”with even heartbreaking moments in the final screams for help to God (“ God gives an answer to my life, God gives an answer to my dreams, God gives an answer to my prayers ”). Also not bad is the fury of metal “Public Enema Number One”, while the ultraconservative “Mother Russia”, a hymn to triumphant capitalism, by the person who – just ten years earlier – portrayed the murder of Margaret Thatcher is surprising.
Fear of the Dark
After the usual tour, it’s the turn of Fear Of The Dark (1992), lasting fifty-eight minutes, their longest album to date. Eddie transforms into a monster tree with gothic scenery and a full moon behind him. Although the beginning is very violent (“Be Quick Or Be Dead”) and the whirlwind title track probably becomes their last great live classic, there are many songs that show a lack of ideas. Not bad “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” and the blasphemous metal of “Judas Be My Guide”, both typically Maidenian, while “Wasting Love” is an atypical power-ballad for the band. Other than that, not much remains in the memory.
Albums with Blaze Bayley
The feeling that something is being lost becomes more and more evident. Dickinson leaves, probably due to disagreements with Harris but also to have more time to devote to his (forgettable) solo career. The choice of the replacement is painful – considering the weight and esteem that Dickinson has among fans – and falls on the young Blaze Bayley, vocalist of Wolfsbane. If the history of Iron Maiden had been a continuous evolution, a constant change in every Lp from the debut up to Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, interrupted with the last two disappointing works, “X Factor” (1995) resumes the path and marks a change definitely positive.
Bayley’s voice is completely different from Dickinson’s, much darker and gloomy, Harris embarks on a path that will continue for several years, that of the subdivision of the songs into three parts (initial arpeggio-metal-final arpeggio with conclusion).
The result is a much darker and more reflective work, with dark connotations, with intimist and existentialist spirals. The epicness of the heroic gestures, children of the distorted vision of war in “Aces High” or “Where Eagles Dare”, makes room for much more realistic scenarios, which depict the horror of any conflict. These are the years of the terrible war in Kosovo, the Second World War studied in the history books and celebrated as a model of heroism leaves room for the real horror that is represented in the gloomy “Fortunes Of War”, one of the most emblematic episodes of the new course (“After the war and now that we have been sent home, I can’t help but feel that I am alone. Nobody can see what this conflict has done to the minds of the men who are returning home”).
For the first time, Iron Maiden do not write about war, but against war, they do not seek the exaltation of death or the glorious enterprise, but they describe the anguish of those who can never be the same as before. The structure of the song is the new model from which Harris is inspired: slow initial arpeggio with singing, classic metal but less aggressive than the origins, return to the initial arpeggio and closure.
“Sign Of The Cross” is the best song since “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” and probably the best of the 90s. Inspired by Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose”, it begins with a choir of monks, immediately giving an atmosphere totally new gothic, then moving on to continuous accelerations and decelerations, a new choir with martial rhythms, and a final outburst of textbook guitar. Synths are once again an integral part of the band’s sound, adding new stylistic possibilities for Harris.
“Lord Of The Flies”, before detonating in a classic metal track, starts with almost danceable keyboards, something unheard of for the Maiden discography. “Man On The Edge” is the most speedy and engaging song, not surprisingly chosen as the opening of the whole future tour. But the road that Harris seems to want to take decisively is that of songs with a structure similar to the perfect and unattainable “Fortunes Of War”. “Look For The Truth”, with sad lyrics from dark music, is a clone, as well as the beautiful “Blood On The World’s Hands”, with a memorable guitar intro.
“The Edge Of Darkness” is still about the war, this time in Vietnam, treated in an adult and not adolescent way. “The Unbeliever” closes with eight minutes that change in rhythm and style, an attempt at the limits of the all in all courageous prog.
In this new season, there is a desire to get involved and avoid repeating themselves, but unfortunately, there is probably a prejudice against Bayley, caused by the ghost of Dickinson who does not abandon the thoughts of the fans. In this climate, the eleventh LP, “Virtual XI” (1998) was born, the most unjustly mistreated and defamed. Definitely shorter than X-Factor (almost half), it transports Eddie from the medieval torture chamber into a hyper-technological future. Rejected by everyone (critics and fans), he forces Harris to make the difficult decision to separate from Bayley, a decision that – to read the statements of the time – was more suffered by Harris than fully shared. Even today Harris is careful to underline in various interviews how significant he considers the albums of the Bayley period, wishing them a well-deserved belated rediscovery.
Accused of lack of ideas and even betrayal, Virtual XI is a decent album with good cues – once again enriched by Bayley’s anti-war lyrics – although certainly less ambitious than the previous one. It is inexplicable to crush (if not with a prejudice) an LP that contains one of the most engaging speed tracks of Maiden, three minutes of pure delirium at the speed of light (“Futureal”), and above all one of the most complex and articulated of their career. (“The Clansman”) who slavishly follows Harris’ new path. But even totally forgotten traces deserve a rediscovery.
The sad ballad “Como Estais Amigos” recalls the fallen of the British Falklands War (whether British or Argentinian) with lyrics by Bayley from a mature songwriter who knows that hatred could always return (“If we were to forget their sacrifice and if they return to visit us wickedness and sadness, we will dance in the sunlight and drink the wine of peace “).
“Lightning Strikes Twice”, “When Two Worlds Collide” or “Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger” are definitely more dignified than half the songs of No Prayer For The Dying or Fear Of The Dark. Even “The Angel And The Gambler”, with its ubiquitous keyboards – used as a pretext to decree an alleged betrayal (if the hypothesis of betrayal in a band could be configured, then Iron Maiden should have already been “condemned” in 1982 with the farewell of Di’Anno) – is a brave attempt to create something different from the classic Maiden, with a hard-rock solo that does not look bad at all.
In any case, the pressures for the reunion are many, the label press Harris after a not exciting tour. The reunion has been in the air for some time and, with Bayley sacrificed, the predictable return of Bruce Dickinson and the much less predictable return of Adrian Smith are announced.
Iron Maiden find themselves for the first time with three guitars and this, combined with the return of Smith – who has always been critical of “past” solutions – would suggest something new. Harris confirms that he is not interested in anything that metal has produced in its extreme sides in the 80s or 90s. Brave New World (2000) is therefore a great nostalgia operation prepared in detail with painstaking professionalism.
All the songs are perfect and well studied, but mostly they remind something of the previous discography. “Ghost Of The Navigator” looks like a simplified version of “Rime Of the Ancient Mariner”, “The Mercenary” is the “Killers” of the new millennium.
Harris does not abandon his writing style of the 90s with “Blood Brothers”, dedicated to his missing father. The complexity increases with the notable “The Nomad” (a cross between “To Tame A Land” and “Alexander The Great”) and “The Thin Line Between Love And Hate”. The album mends the rift between the band and the fans.
Dance of Death
Unfortunately, the subsequent Dance Of Death (2003) does not live up to expectations. The ads seem dire right away, starting with the computer graphic cover and – as if that weren’t enough – the first single available borders on embarrassing (“Wildest Dream”).
Fortunately, the second single “Rainmaker” is much more enjoyable. The very tight “No More Lies”, the warlike “Paschendale”, the title track, and the dark “Montségur” are saved. Also noteworthy is “Journeyman”, almost entirely acoustic, as it hasn’t happened since the days of “Prodigal Son” in Killers.
A Matter Of Life And Death
Certainly a step back, but Harris manages to get up by immediately taking two steps forward with A Matter Of Life And Death (2006) which manages to restore dignity to their historical name, thanks to a series of long and complex tracks (their already mentioned soul progressive that re-emerges).
“Brighter Than A Thousand Suns”, “The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg”, “The Longest Day” and “For The Greater Good Of God” capture the theme of war and associate a tangible tragic vision to the typical structure of Maiden’s songs of the new millennium and fatalistic of life.
It is a more mature and dark, antiwar (“These Colors Don’t Run”) and desperate work. A Matter Of Life And Death is the most mature moment of the 2000s, able to overcome the simple nostalgic operation with long songs and adult themes, which synthesize the various souls that have always been present in the band.
The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier (2010) has the shortcomings of the latest LPs (continuous self-quotation) but not supported by adequate creative ideas. Eliminated any gloomy aspect of the previous LP, the focus is once again on futurist settings, up to new cosmic scenarios for the band’s production.
After several listenings, not much remains in the memory, if not the cosmic intro of “Satellite 15”, while the longer and more elaborate songs (“Isle Of Avalon”, “The Talisman”, “The Man Who Would Be King” and ” When The Wild Wind Blows ”) are dignified but certainly don’t stand out in their extraordinary career.
Book of Souls
The announcement of a double album, with four tracks over 8 minutes, sounded with these premises like a threatening inferring on the corpse of the “trooper” who had fallen in battle. And instead comes the surprise: “Book Of Souls” finally marks an inspired and above all concrete work, sweeping away with relief the fears of a megalomaniac monster of 92 minutes on the way.
A record that blends the two souls of the band: the increasingly marked progressive vein, embodied in the long marathons in the lineup, and the more melodic one. The result is an all in all convincing balance between ambitious compositions, such as “If Eternity Should Fail”, certainly the best opener of the new millennium of the band, and tracks with a simpler structure such as “Speed Of Light”, a simple battle singleton, with few tinsel at the right point and an excellent solo section.
The album often recalls ancient ideas expressed in the duo Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, especially in the use of synths and in the delayed phrasing of the guitars available, perhaps never before exploited in all their variety since present. in trio. The band’s aesthetic is always the same, which also makes this record a substantially fashioned work.
Nicko Mc Brain is the real surprise: finally favored by a dry and dry mix, far from the dirty and muddy sound of recent times, he gives his best in the most pulled tracks of the record. Bruce Dickinson also brings comforting confirmations, returning to twirl between very high peaks and expressive lows, despite the recent fear of tongue cancer.
Book Of Souls does not come close to excellence also due to a few digressions too many, as in the very ambitious “Empire Of The Clouds”, the Dickinsonian marathon to seal the album. The melodies offered are effective and the use of the orchestra discreet and intelligent, but not all of its 18 minutes appear essential, especially in the instrumental fugues of the central section. Paradoxically, the less articulated pieces of the lineup give the same impression, which would have been more effective with more contained minutes (“The Great Unknown”, “Death Or Glory” and “Shadows Of The Valley”) but these are non-mortal sins.
Stay Tuned for More
And, now, it’s time for some exciting news! On September 3, 2021, the new Iron Maiden album is scheduled for release. “Senjutsu” will be the next album of the legends from East London, and the album after the longest break they had ever made between 2 releases.
I sincerely hope that Senjutsu will be every one of us is hoping for: A good blend between the classical Maiden, with some new stuff that will give it the extra spice.
It’s been long in the making, and we had waited long enough. I just hope that the current global situation will not get in the way of another Iron Maiden ass-kicking tour.