IRON MAIDEN

"The Book of Souls" (BMG; 2015)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As I predicted in my review of Iron Maiden's previous studio album, 2010's "The Final Frontier," "The Book of Souls" is a better album. Bruce Dickinson's vocals are brighter here, more energetic and bigger. The guitars are fast(er) and furious(er) and Nicko McBrain once again proves his mettle (metal?) by delivering some of the most punishing and elaborate drum work out there. The album is bigger as well, weighing in at almost 90 minutes and complete with two CDs.

That being said, "The Book of Souls" can be a little weird at times. The opening track, "If Eternity Should Fail," starts with an eerie, almost spaghetti western instrumental before Bruce comes in to remind you this is an Iron Maiden album. Eventually, the song evolves into the galloping heavy metal we've come to expect from the band but, for a bit, it's a little off-putting. Next up is "Speed of Light," which sounds a little like classic Deep Purple (and, if you're a fan of cowbell, look no further). Although the rest of the album sounds like what you'd expect modern Iron Maiden to sound like, it all ends with a stunning, eighteen-minute track called "Empire of the Clouds." This final track is a mini rock opera about the British airship R101, which crashed and burned in 1930, killing 48 of the 54 people onboard. "Empire of the Clouds" is either a epic masterpiece or 18 minutes of pure metal cheese, depending on your take (although 'metal' may be the wrong term for this particular track due to the extensive piano and other non-metal instruments present). After multiple listens and a little research on the R101, I'm leaning more in the direction of masterpiece. This complex and lyrically engaging song paints a clear and emotional picture that easily holds your attention for its extensive running time.

Bottom line: "The Book of Souls" is evidence that Iron Maiden can still deliver the goods. Is this new CD as good as, say, "Piece of Mind" or "Powerslave?" Of course not, although there are flashes of that past brilliance here, as well as "Empire of the Clouds," and that's good enough for me.

For more information, check out www.ironmaiden.com

"The Final Frontier" (Sony Legacy; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Iron Maiden's "The Final Frontier" is a rare entry in the band's discography because it sounds tired. The music, for the most part, is sluggish and lead vocalist/dynamo Bruce Dickinson doesn't even seem to have the energy to bring the album to the level we've come to expect from one of the world's greatest heavy metal bands.

Overall, it's not a bad album ... it's still Iron Maiden ... it's just not great Iron Maiden. The songwriting and musicianship aren't as engrossing as so many albums from the band's past have been and a lot of the CD sounds like work. But then along comes Track 9, "The Man Who Would Be King," a towering track featuring jaw-dropping drum work by Nicko McBrain, and its energy alone almost makes up for the rest of the album's doldrums.

Ultimately, though, it's a case of too little, too late. I won't listen to "The Final Frontier" often, but it's done nothing but make me yearn more for the next, sure-to-be-better studio album from the mighty Iron Maiden.

For more information, check out www.ironmaiden.com

"Somewhere Back in Time" (Sanctuary; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Well, here's the most pointless compilation of the year. Already masters of releasing live album after live album, compilation after compilation, Iron Maiden have now released "Somewhere Back in Time," yet another collection of "Greatest Hits," this time "the best of 1980 - 1989."

As with most compilations of this kind, the only argument here is what deserves to be included and what doesn't. That's as pointless an argument as this is a compilation so I won't even discuss it. Suffice it to say there's plenty of great Iron Maiden on this disc, should you be so inclined as to buy it again.

Bottom line: If you're an Iron Maiden fan, you already have all of the music included on this CD so it's an unnecessary addition to your collection. If you're new to the band, there are other, better places to get the band's biggest hits: I'd recommend "Edward the Great" to start myself.

For more information, check out www.ironmaiden.com

"Live After Death" DVD (Sony; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Iron Maiden's "Live After Death" was one of the definitive live releases of the 80s. It captured the Maiden Machine at the top of their game, with a stunning live performance that gave us one of heavy metal's most memorable catch phrases: "Scream for me, Long Beach!" 

The VHS release was also a deserved monster hit. Not only did it capture the visual, as well as the audio, of that soon to be legendary performance, it captured the moment in time when Iron Maiden were kings of the (heavy metal) world, and their charisma and musical talents were on fire.

So it's a little surprising that it took over twenty years for "Life After Death" to get a proper DVD release. The question is: Does "Live After Death" stand up to the test of time?

The answer is, perhaps not so surprisingly, yes! Taken from the original 35mm film prints, the images on this DVD have never looked better. Just imagine your favorite movie and remember how it looked on VHS versus DVD. That's the difference you'll see here. In addition, although the original mix of the soundtrack is included here as well, the sound has also been remixed to full Dolby 5.1 Surround. It's like seeing this historical concert footage for the first time.

A second disc is also included with mounds of bonus features as well. Disc Two contains Part 2 of "History of Iron Maiden," (continued from the previous DVD release, "The Early Days"), plus the nearly one hour documentary "Behind the Iron Curtain" (with many live performances), "Rockin in Rio '85," (a 50-minute concert performance), a short film entitled "'Ello Texas," promotional clips and an artwork gallery containing tour programs, tour dates and photos.

Iron Maiden were at their peak during the "Live After Death" years and, though the band shows no signs of slowing, this incredible two-DVD set captures the stuff of pure magic. Although, admittedly, not everything holds up so well. I found myself laughing out loud at the feathered mask Bruce Dickinson wears during the performance of "Powerslave." At the time, I remember thinking it was cool. Now it just seems silly.

Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson (vocals); Steve Harris (Bass); Dave Murray (guitar); Adrian Smith (Guitar); Nicko McBrain (Drums).

For more information, check out www.ironmaiden.com

"A Matter of Life and Death" (Sanctuary; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Iconic metal gods Iron Maiden return with "A Matter of Life and Death," the group's 14th studio album. Maiden may be grizzled and getting on in years, but none of that shows up on this 10-track tour de force.

Instead, fans are treated to the tried and true formula of majestic guitars, epic songwriting, and Bruce Dickinson's signature wail roaring with the regal metallic firepower this band single-handedly damn near invented. 

"These Colours Don't Run" employs the trademark Maiden time signatures and choir vocal mid-section with grace and precision, while "The Pilgrim" sounds like something from the "Powerslave" era with its galloping guitars and swashbuckling sway firmly in tow. These songs are long (the shortest tracks in at 4:17, the longest at 9:24) yet aren't weighed down, thanks to capturing the raw sounds of a live Maiden performance by recording live in the studio as opposed to previous offerings, a nuance that assists the overall flow and keeps the intensity meter on full-tilt throughout. 

Dispersing a bit more complex feel, tracks like "The Longest Day" combine the unit's pomp and circumstance with a way darker atmosphere, while "For the Greater Good of God" juxtaposes that same ominous aura with some of Maiden's staple devices (booming bass, virtuoso guitar work, dynamic time shifts) taking precedence and stealing the show. 

See what happens when you throw eggs at Iron Maiden, Sharon? You get another classic album in the form of "A Matter of Life and Death," an album that satisfies old fans, stuns new fans, and clamors for many more years of "Up the Irons" chants around the world.

For more information, check out www.ironmaiden.com

"Death on the Road" (Sanctuary; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Very few, if any, bands boast as many live albums as Iron Maiden and, even though they'll probably never top the sheer metal genius of "Live After Death," the vast majority of Maiden's live releases are head and shoulders above most of their peers. "Death on the Road" is no exception.

Recorded to maintain maximum volume and brilliantly performed, "Death on the Road" contains many Maiden classics (i.e., "The Trooper," "Can I Play With Madness," "Hallowed by They Name," "Number of the Beast," "Run to the Hills") and some newer and not so well known tunes ("Wildest Dreams," "Rainmaker," "No More Lies," "Journeyman."). Although the classic tunes can't help but stand out, the lesser known/newer tunes have a sheer power all their own. In fact, songs that didn't sound so great on the band's studio CD, "Brave New World," sound a little better here. (In fact, the title track to that CD, gets a nice boost on this CD with its chorus of thousands).

The band is as stunning as ever. With three lead guitarists in action, the solos are fast, furious and irresistible. Plus, they are nearly perfectly recorded, ripping from the CD with laser-like precision. Legendary vocalist Bruce Dickinson is a little screechy at times but that's to be understood; even the mighty Bruce can't belt out tunes at 150% each night and not get a little scratchy now and then.

"Death on the Road" may not be the perfect live Iron Maiden recording (that honor would have to go to "Live After Death"), but it's a damn good one. Cut another notch in the belt of great live recordings for Iron Maiden. With "Death on the Road," they've done it again.

Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson - vocals; Dave Murray - lead and rhythm guitars; Adrian Smith - lead and rhythm guitars; Janick Gers - lead and rhythm guitars; Steve Harris - bass; Nicko McBrain - drums. 

For more information, check out www.ironmaiden.com

"Dance of Death" (Sanctuary / Columbia; 2003)


"Visions of the Beast" DVD (Sony; 2003)

Reviewed by Shelley Harris



"Respect" was the first word -- or first emotion -- that came to mind after I was recently treated to an advance listen to the brand new Iron Maiden studio album, "Dance of Death," in its near one-hour entirety. (The album is due for international release on Sept. 8.) Of course, there's only so much you can absorb after one listening to any album, and that is especially true with one as lush, layered, and sophisticated in its production as this Kevin Shirley-produced disc, but, nevertheless, "let me count the ways" -- precisely -- that
"respect" is the operative noun here:

1) "Dance of Death" happens to be no less than the (lucky) 13th studio album released by the unsinkable and definitive "British Heavy Metal" masters in their 25-plus year career, and it demonstrates they have not let up one iota in pleasing themselves first with their art, rather than the powers that be (you know, the "men in ties with dollar sign eyes").

2) "Dance of Death" finds Iron Maiden still progressing (in more ways than one), and yet simultaneously retaining the essence of the trademark fury and force of the unique -- and difficult to duplicate -- Maiden sound. (While some would say that the recorded Maiden is characterized by the blisteringly melodic guitar solos and harmonies, the "air raid siren" powerhouse vocals, and even the fantasy/historical/sci-fi/epic themes of its songs, which all are a consistent thread in the band's music since day one, guitarist Janick Gers may have put it best when he recently noted in the band's self-made bios of each other on the www.ironmaiden.com website, that Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain actually are "the pulse of Iron Maiden, the body of the band. You copy it at your peril, because the sound of Maiden is built around the way Steve plays bass and the only band that it would work in is Maiden.")

3) With the proficiency and advanced level of musicianship that you might expect from a band that has relentlessly toured and recorded for so many years, Maiden continues to balance the two "sides" of its sound -- the straight-ahead, pedal-to-the-metal barn-burners that were more the rule than the exception on the first few albums, along with some of the epic, almost transcendentally passionate numbers that have evolved as some of the bands most aurally stunning tunes in recent years. (The title track of the new album, "Dance of Death," for just one example).

Although, as I write, "Dance of Death" has yet to be released for official press review (thus limiting the details I'm allowed to include) for now more info on the titles and certain particularities of some of the songs can be found on the band's website. Moreover, in the "Diary" section of his own website (www.cavemanproductions.com) producer Kevin Shirley also gives further insight when he notes that DOD is "a very organic album, and the basic tracks really reflect the way the band plays. Of course there is more dimension to it than it just being a raw performance, and the overdubs are fairly diverse, including everything from acoustic guitars and an orchestra to slamming guitars and monstrous explosions!" Shirley tantalizingly adds, "The guys cut an acoustic version of one of the songs, and it came out great ... It's also unusual, because it's the first time Maiden have ever had a guest artist on one of their songs, and I can now reveal, that the artist 'dueting' with Bruce is none other than the Ozzman!! Yes, we recorded Ozzy last month and kept it secret, and this looks like being the second single off the new album and it's very exciting!" 

In addition, though there has been much debate and rumor twirling about concerning the artwork of the album (nothing new for Maiden, of course!), I personally adjudge it to be their best ever in terms of intrigue and more succinct, broadly accessible imagery. With a background of red and a grim reaper-type Eddie surrounded by masked "arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments'" and "much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre" -- it is very reminiscent of Poe's masterpiece "The Masque of the Red Death" -- although (unlike "Murders in the Rue Morgue" from the Killers album) the title song's lyrics were not, apparently, actually derived from that classic short story.

Finally, on the issue of RESPECT: Yes, it is true that Maiden have never been willing to pay the proverbial piper when it comes to playing the airplay/payola game currently entrenched in mega-corporation run radio in America. As band linchpin Harris noted years ago, alluding to the band's determination not to specifically write and record for radio, "We're very strong minded -- even to the point of being stubborn!" Nevertheless, over the years -- and particularly on the last few albums -- the band has had many songs that were at least as '"radio-friendly" (and as "catchy" and high caliber) as those of bands like AC/DC, Metallica, and other less evolved "Nu-Metal" acts that have long been played on a regular basis. 

What's wrong with this picture?!! Is it that most of lemming-like America never had the gumption to get past the band's initial strong and "scary" imagery (including the comic-book Eddie) which was first imprinted way back during the double-edged sword "Number of the Beast" era? (Note that certain devilish connotations never hurt the likes of Ozzy and AC/DCs radio play in the least.) Or is it that Iron Maiden would never flirt with -- let alone kiss the ass of -- the radio middleman prostitutes that use their power, influence, and schmoozing skills to get artists on the playlists of most major radio stations these days? Whatever the reason(s), sustained radio play in America is one of the last golden rings that Iron Maiden have yet to achieve in their long and illustrious career (and unlike the rest of the world, it has affected their status in the US significantly). Interestingly, Maiden imagery has been popping up frequently in various mass-media, from movies, to commercials, to other artists' videos, indicating a grudging respect and element of -- dare we say -- hipness surrounding the band that would "never surrender." And now's the time, too, for corporate-radio America to reward, rather than punish, the band's sustained integrity and -- YES! -- talent. Certainly, "Dance of Death" would be a good place to start ... and none to soon! 

As support for all the statements/arguments above, I present the "Visions of the Beast," DVD which is a two-disc, eye-opening collection of 31 of the band's promotional videos over the years, plus various entertaining "extras." 

For those that have been following the band since their earliest forays on America beginning in '81 Disk One definitely will overwhelm you with a bit of nostalgia. Yes, you might even shed a tear to see "the lads" as you first remembered them, in all their youthful, no-holds-barred enthusiasm on classic tracks like "Run to the Hills," "Number of the Beast," "Aces High," etc., which once got high rotation in the earliest days of MTV. 

Not that they're any worse for the wear, despite years of nonstop touring, on the band's more recent work which appears on Disk Two. Probably, if you are anything less than a die-hard Maiden fan, and if you are American, you will not have previously seen most of the videos on the second disk, nor will you be very familiar with most of the songs, which are actually some of the better ones of their career. High time for some great backpedaling, then. Perhaps unfortunately, the epic and synth-orchestrated numbers that the band has always equally excelled at were rarely chosen for their promotional videos, but you can see spectacularly performed live versions of such songs like "Blood Brothers," "The Clansman," and "Sign of the Cross" on the earlier released "Rock in Rio" double live DVD (which commemorated Maiden's headlining show at the festival in 2001 and which went to #1 in Europe and platinum in the US). Nevertheless, on Disk Two of Visions of the Beast, you will see great live versions of the classic favorite "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Fear of the Dark" -- which is arguably the band's best live song, ever.

Also included on the three-hour-plus DVD, which is a true bargain with the selling price of $17 at most major retail outlets, is a great animated Eddie-related interface, six Camp Chaos versions of classic Maiden tunes, and other "hidden extras." My favorite of the latter is the video "football/soccer" version of the Blaze era tune "Futureal" -- which provides the soundtrack for the band and their mates during action-packed outtakes from several soccer matches. (As any Maiden aficionado knows, most of the band, and especially "team captain" Steve Harris, are ardent -- and skilled -- on the game both as athletes and as spectators.) 

Whether you are a dyed-in-the-wool metal or hard rock fan or not, and regardless whether you are 15 or 45, you will walk away from viewing this DVD with a greater respect for this band's endurance, as well as a stunning realization of just how unique their music really was and is -- all the while being an obviously gargantuan influence on the evolution of the hard rock/metal music and scene as we now know it. 

For more information visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

"Eddie's Archive" (Columbia; 2002)


"Edward the Great" (Columbia; 2002)

Reviewed by Shelley Harris

King of kings or jokers wild? When it comes to Iron Maiden - the band that led the original, historical NWOBHM ("New Wave of British Heavy Metal") back in the late '70s and which has gone on to a stunning, 25-plus, truly international year career (thus far) - the verdict tends to be one extreme or the other. 

But, as Steve Harris, the band's mastermind/founder, comments in the liner notes of "Edward the Great": "I think it is important to point out now that Iron Maiden has never been about fashion or writing our music to the beat of someone else's drum. Hot singles have never really been the focus of what we do. We write music to please ourselves and we focus on being a live performance band providing a show that people will walk away from and hopefully never forget ..." 

Yeah, it's always been that you either "get it" or you don't with Iron Maiden, and, frankly, I've always took the stance that this band is true rock royalty. Not only because it was Maiden's powerful, ear and eye-popping live performances (which, as Harris hopes above, ARE truly unforgettable) that first whetted my tastes for the heavier end of the rock spectrum , but also because the band members' uniquely uncompromising, non-commercialistic artistic integrity, "can't be bought" individualism, nonconformist rebel stance, and "working class hero" background represented an ideal that I - and millions of others like me - found extremely rare and inherently close to the heart. Indeed, for many, Iron Maiden have represented more than just a creatively innovative and world-class live band - they have represented a particular mindset and a life philosophy/creed. 

Now - notwithstanding the career blessing and curse(?) of the maniacal, comic/horror "Eddies" that have graced the covers of most of Maiden's albums and releases - the newest cache, "Edward the Great" and "Eddie's Archive" (yes, the cover of the former also features the famous corpse in full monarch regalia), should at least be a heads up to the old and jaded - and to the new guard of "heavy rockers" coming up - as to just why, despite almost zero support over all the years from American radio and popular media, this consummate British heavy metal band has sold over 50 million albums worldwide to date. [Indeed, though the band's status in America has had its ups and downs over the years, in no part due to the "spoon feeding" mentality of corporate media and radio in this country, Iron Maiden is, in fact, still one of the biggest drawing live bands on the planet and continues to headline the biggest major festivals throughout the world, including last year's "Rock in Rio," which ha
s also generated a live album and state of the art DVD. See below].

In a nutshell, Eddie's Archive is a comprehensive 6-disc boxed set marketed more towards the hard core fans (of which there are astounding numbers to this date) who can never get enough of anything Maiden. Included herein are rare live tracks from BBC's Friday Rock Show in 1979, from The Reading Festival in 1980 and 1982, from the Monsters of Rock Festival in Dongington in 1988, and literally dozens of hard-to-find b-sides (including covers of songs by Jethro Tull, Golden Earring, Montrose, Chuck Berry and Led Zeppelin). And, as if the music weren't enough, "Eddie's Archive" also includes a scroll-like family tree (wrapped up in a metal Eddie ring), a shot glass and the metal box containing it all with an embossed cover featuring none other than Eddie himself. 

Conversely, "Edward the Great" is a new Iron Maiden "greatest hits" collection that is a 16 cut compilation of some of the band's primo cuts from 1982's groundbreaking Number of the Beast through 2000's Brave New World. 

Consequently, whether you'd like to be reminded of what made you love this band in the first place, or if you're a "newbie" interested in finding out what all the fuss was about and seeing for yourself just what it was that made this band so influential in the metal genre (i.e., Metallica, Manson, et. al), then "Edward the Great" is probably the best place to start, absent attending one of the band's incomparable live performances during their upcoming U.S. tour this summer (in support of a brand new studio album currently in the works). 

For more information, check out http://www.ironmaiden.com.  

"Rock in Rio" (Portrait/Columbia; 2002) DVD

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I'm not a really big fan of concert videos or DVDs. It seems like there's nothing like really being there and these releases are often no more than souvenirs of the live show. Still, there's something about a live performance caught on video rather than just audio that makes it stand out. Such is certainly the case with the video release of "Rock In Rio."

As you can garner from my review of the CD below, I enjoyed "Rock In Rio" but wasn't exactly thrilled. The problem is that Iron Maiden has so many live CDs that it's really hard to separate them these days, even with the addition of another incredible guitarist. "Rock In Rio," the CD, was good but not great.

"Rock In Rio," the DVD, takes a step closer to that greatness. Coupling the audio with the live action footage of Iron Maiden in action makes for a much better experience. The band is so charismatic and powerful in their onstage performance - a performance that you can't see on the CD release (except in the bonus footage) on stage - that "Rock In Rio" the DVD earns a higher rating than its CD, audio-only counterpart.

Everything seems to gain another dimension on the DVD (which, now that I think about it, I guess it really does). "Rock In Rio" the DVD, is a fuller rock'n'roll experience than the double-CD. You get the incredible onstage performance by the band, the full light and visual show, and shots of the crowd having a rousing good time. Hell, you wish you were there with them.

In addition, this DVD comes with a bonus disc that includes interviews with the bandmembers, documentaries about the band and its preparation for a big show and a photo gallery by legendary rock photographer Ross Halfin.

There's a total of almost three hours entertainment on "Rock in Rio," the DVD, and it's all quality stuff. Of course, it's still not the same as being there, but it's as close as you'll get in your living room.

Up the Irons!!

Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson; Steve Harris; Dave Murray; Janick Gers; Adrian Smith; Nicko McBrain.

For more information, check out http://www.ironmaiden.com.  

"Rock in Rio" (Portrait/Columbia; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Rock In Rio" is a document of the legendary Iron Maiden's comeback tour in support of their "Brave New World" CD, the first CD the band recorded after lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson returned to the fold. The CD was recorded during the infamous Rock in Rio show in Brazil that drew an estimated 250,000 people.

The bad news is that, all said and done, this is just another live Iron Maiden album. The band has done many of them in the past (several are reviewed below) and many of the songs that appear on "Rock In Rio" appear on the previous releases as well. Sure, there's some new stuff from "Brave New World" here and a tune or two from the Blaze Bayley-led days of "Virtual XI" and "The X Factor" are featured here with Dickinson at the mike, but - let's be honest - those weren't Maiden's best days in the studio.

The good news is that "Rock In Rio" benefits greatly from its enormous audience. There's not much that's more impressive than 250,000 screaming metalheads screaming out the chorus from such Maiden classics as "2 Minutes to Midnight," "The Trooper" and "The Number of the Beast" and to hear that same crowd singing every single word to "Run to the Hills" may just bring a tear to your eye. The audience in "Rock in Rio" is just as important as the band. They enhance every track. And, to those of you who don't like live albums because of the audience, the audience here never overwhelms the music either.

Also good news is that this is the first live recording with the band's current three guitar line-up. The performances on "Rock in Rio" may just be the band's richest ever.

In addition, as with all the re-releases of the Iron Maiden catalog, "Rock In Rio" features a couple of bonus videos. Disc 1 contains a live recording of "Brave New World" and Disc 2 contains a liver rendition of "A Day in the Life." That's cool enough in itself, but I have to say that these videos are the best I've ever seen on CD. The quality is excellent, the colors vibrant and clear and the performances ... well, if you've ever seen Maiden live, you know how good the performances are.

The bottom line is this: Iron Maiden fans should immediately add this CD to their collection (as if they have to be told). Others can pick and choose their favorite era and select a live album accordingly. 

Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson; Steve Harris; Dave Murray; Janick Gers; Adrian Smith; Nicko McBrain.

For more information, check out http://www.ironmaiden.com.  

"Brave New World" (Portrait; 2000)

Reviewed by TBJ

There isn’t much I can say about this CD that hasn’t already been said. It is the best overall album since "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son." It is complex, melodic, heavy and driving. Bruce’s vocals are as great as ever, as is Steve’s bass and Nicko’s drumming. The three-guitar attack is captivating, and -  although there aren’t many three-part harmonies - it is in the solos that Dave, Janick, and Adrian truly shine. 

The songs resemble more the latter-day style of Iron Maiden (i.e., long clean intros/outros) that was previously heard on "Virtual XI" and "The X-Factor." What's ironic is that some fans have said that Maiden’s music sucked during the Blaze Bayley era, and those same people are praising the new album - although the "Brave new World" songs could have been written with Blaze in the band. (It really never was Blaze’s fault if you ask me.)

What I feel now while listening to this CD is energy, and a hunger to kick the current incarnation of "The Rock World" right square in its ass. (Whether or not that attitude was present during the Blaze years is arguable). Janick has proven himself a worthy keep; many songs were co-written by him, and many of the really fast songs are his. Bruce and Adrian collaborated in some songs as on the first single, "The Wicker Man" - a prime example of what their new attitude is all about.

The best songs on the CD are "Out of the Silent Planet," "Fallen Angel," "Dream of Mirrors," "Brave New World" and "Blood Brothers," all of which provide those classic Maiden ingredients mixed with some new influences (shades of Dickinson's solo effort, "The Chemical Wedding" surface in the chorus of "Dream Of Mirrors," and in "Fallen Angel"). In "Blood Brothers," Maiden use Metallica’s symphony orchestra method, and expand on it. It would be so cool to see Iron Maiden playing this song with a full orchestra behind them.

Out of all this ecstasy there is but one flaw that I can find. They should have used Roy Z as producer. Why they did not, I understand completely, but nevertheless, Roy Z would have given them that extra "ultra modern edge" they could have used to great results (as Bruce did on his last two solo CDs). Well, maybe next time.

Don’t get me wrong: "Brave New World" rules. If you feel a little tired of that up and down bouncing rap-metal stuff, give this a listen. Countless bands of yesterday and today cite Maiden as a major influence in their sound, ranging from thrash to death to black and from Marilyn Manson to Cradle of Filth to In Flames. "Brave New World" proves why.

Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson - vocals; Steve Harris - bass; Nicko McBrain - drums; Janick Gers, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith - guitars.

For more info on Iron Maiden visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

"Brave New World" (Portrait; 2000))

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The wait for the return of Bruce Dickinson to Iron Maiden practically defines "anticipation." The appetites of Maiden fans everywhere were whetted with an Iron Maiden club tour during Summer 1999; but seriously, everyone was really waiting for new recorded material!

Countless Iron Maiden fans are probably pouring over every little detail of "Brave New World" as I write this. So, the big question is whether or not the wait worth all the anticipation? Yes, the wait was worth it! But there are some caveats.

Iron Maiden has created ten new songs of classic metal; all the trademark styles, galloping riffs, flowing harmony leads, and epic songs are back in full force. The return of Bruce Dickinson to the fold only heightens the quality of the songs - Dickinson's voice is tailor made for Iron Maiden and his voice shines on every single track. In addition, the return of Adrian Smith has brought a classic sensibility to the band's songwriting.

One of the most interesting things was trying to figure out how the three-guitar line-up would work. Certainly I expected the guitar sound to be a bit cluttered, but that's not the case here. Murray, Gers, and Smith show considerable restraint and each get their chance to take the spotlight and they never disappoint.

Harris and McBrain are as consistent as any rhythm section in the business today. The bass and drums respectively lend the right amount of support at all times as Harris' bass work continues to be a foundation of the classic Iron Maiden sound. 

Personally, I like the epic tunes "The Nomad," "Dream Of Mirrors," and "The Thin Line Between Love And Hate" - the epic tunes remind me of why I liked Iron Maiden in the first place. These types of songs broke convention back in the '80s and added something new to the metal scene.  The same could be said today with the proliferation of angry young men cluttering up the rap-metal genre.

The made-for-radio single "The Wicker Man" fails to excite me (I'm sure it will have radio listeners clamoring to turn up the volume), but it is the perfect single to re-introduce Iron Maiden to the public - it's fast, catchy, and chock full of great lead guitars. "The Mercenary" languishes too much for me while "Blood Brothers" is too long and too slow - as a consequence these tracks never rise above meandering filler. These flaws can easily be overlooked knowing how great the rest of "Brave New World" turned out.

Overall "Brave New World" plays like "Somewhere In Time" and "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" with a maturity that only 20 years in the metal business can provide. Not only should "Brave New World" appeal to old Maiden fans, it should also appeal to an entirely new generation of fans as well. 

"Brave New World" was produced by Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Liquid Tension Experiment) and co-produced by Steve Harris. 

Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson on vocals; Steve Harris on bass and keyboards; Dave Murray, Janick Gers, and Adrian Smith on guitars; and Nicko McBrain on drums. 

For more information visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

"The Wicker Man Singles" (EMI; 2000)

Reviewed by TBJ

Being just a single (and because of this, it rates 3½ and not a 4), I still can’t help but fell all tingly inside because of what these guys are about to release. The Holy Single, or "The Wicker Man," is a song reminiscent of faster Maiden numbers. Think of a mix between "Futureal" and "Two Minutes to Midnight." Adrian’s guitar is leading throughout the song, although Janick and Dave are never left in the dark. It just seems that Adrian’s style is what we all missed the most (aside from the obvious) from the previous albums. His leads provide that classic "edge" Maiden lacked so much in the last four albums. (This is obviously reason enough for me to call him my Personal God). 

The three-guitar attack in all the songs - be them the live ones, or the new single - sound heavier and fuller than ever before while at the same time sounding clear and crisp. Surprisingly, the bass had to give for this to work. Nevertheless, Steve delivers, as always. 

What is most surprising is Nicko’s newfound use for double-kick pedals. I’m not completely sure, but it’s either that, or he been taking too much caffeine for that foot to be so fast. 

Bruce of course is Godly, and there aren't words to describe his return to form. 

The live songs: "Futureal," "Killers," "Powerslave," and "Man on the Edge," give a taste of things to come in the Metal 2000 World Tour. And, depending on what version of this single you pick up, you may find video footage included as well.

It’s a fucking joy these guys put aside whatever differences they might have had and decided to conquer the world all over again. This is what metal is all about; loud guitars, pounding bass and drums, GODLY vocals (not that down-tuned rapped-out gunk the blasphemers are calling 'Heavy Rock') these days. Heavy fucking Metal is back, and I can’t be happier about it.

For more information visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

"Ed Hunter" (Priority; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I know what you're thinking: "How many times can Iron Maiden release the same songs on compilation CDs?" The answer is, "Apparently as many times as they want to." "Ed Hunter" is a collection of the Top 20 Iron Maiden songs of all time, as voted for on the Iron Maiden website in December of 1998. It's a pretty decent collection of Maiden history, including such instant classics as "Number of the Beast," "Powerslave," "Aces High" and "Two Minutes To Midnight." However, there are a few strange choices here as well. I'm not sure "Fear of the Dark" deserves to be on a Maiden Top 20. And did Maiden website visitors really choose three - count 'em, three - songs from the Blaze Bayley era ("The Clansman," "Futureal," and "Man on the Edge")? I can understand one, maybe two, but three?

As far as a "Best of Maiden" collection is concerned, I'll take "Best of the Beast" any day. However, "Ed Hunter" offers much more than just the Top 20 Maiden songs of all time. Also included is a complete PC shooter game called, interestingly enough, "Ed Hunter." "Ed Hunter" is a killer game, featuring the kind of graphics you'd expect from Iron Maiden as well as a terrific selection of Maiden songs playing throughout. Basically, the game put the player - as a former freelance journalist/roadie/investigator - on the trail of Eddie, the band's mascot - who was last seen in a mental institution. It's not a complicated game by any means, basically a run-and-shoot in the style of "Area 51," but it's great fun, especially with the Iron Maiden theme that runs throughout.

So - is "Ed Hunter" worth the price (seeing as it's a three-CD set)? We'd say yes. Especially if you're a Maiden fan who likes to play shooter games on your PC. If you're just into the music, we'd recommend "Best of the Beast" instead.

For more information visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

"Live at Donington" (Raw Power; 1998)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Part of the recent re-release and re-mastering of the IRON MAIDEN catalog, "Live at Donington" was recorded on August 22nd, 1992 and was one of the last performances of IRON MAIDEN with Bruce Dickinson as lead vocalist (before the reunion, of course).

While not any better or any worse than any previous live IRON MAIDEN release, this re-issue of "Live at Donington" does have several items to recommend it. First, the packaging is terrific. The cover is a perfect IRON MAIDEN cover (Eddie and all) and the enclosed cover booklet contains all the lyrics to the songs and lots of color photos of the band.

In addition, the re-mastered sound is crisp and clear and the performance by the band strong and powerful. The song selection is excellent as well, including classics like "Two Minutes to Midnight," "Number of the Beast," and "Running Free" and later tunes like "Be Quick or Be Dead" and Fear of the Dark."

Also included in these re-mastered re-issues is an extensive Enhanced CD section that includes several live Quicktime video clips ("Afraid to Shoot Strangers," "Heaven Can Wait," "Hallowed be Thy Name," "Iron Maiden" and excerpts from "Be Quick or Be Dead" and "The Number of the Beast"), band bios, photo galleries and internet links.

Again, "Live at Donington" is really nothing new to fans who have listened to "Live After Death" and "A Real Live One" and "A Real Dead One" (which have also been re-mastered and re-issued), but it is another great live recording by a great heavy metal band.

For more information visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

ironmaiden.jpg (18317 bytes)"Virtual XI" (CMC International; 1998)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

I wasn't too thrilled with "The X Factor," Iron Maiden's previous release (and first with new vocalist Blaze Bayley). That classic IRON MAIDEN sound and Bayley's almost Southern Rock vocals just didn't seem to mesh. With "Virtual XI," however, both the band and Bayley seem to have grown closer to each other's styles and the result is a better record than "The X Factor." Beginning with the fast-tempoed opening track, "Futureal" and continuing through seven equally powerful songs, "Virtual XI" is a strong next step in the evolution of IRON MAIDEN. In addition, the CD is enhanced, containing lyrics, band photos, a link to IRON MAIDEN's website and free trial AOL software. Fans who found it difficult to say goodbye to former lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson can console themselves with the fact that IRON MAIDEN is back with a strong new album - although it may be a little different than they're used to.

IRON MAIDEN: Steve Harris, bass; Blaze Bayley, vocals; Dave Murray, guitar; Janick Gers, guitar; Nicko McBrain, drums.

For more information visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

"The Best of the Beast" (Raw Power; 1996)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Usually reviewing a greatest hits CD requires little or no research. The songs listed are familiar and the music is well known. So I’m going to cherry pick this review (sorry, boss). 

This greatest hits package was offered in three different formats: vinyl (with 34 tracks on 4 albums), a 27 track two-disc CD set and a single disc with 16 tracks. Thje vinyl is quite rare and worth a small fortune if you can find it. The 16 track CD version is listed below. I don't think I need to do more than list the song titles here. Everyone knows Maiden and they know these songs as well, with the possible exception of "Virus," which was recorded just for this compilation. Bottom line: If you like the songs in this collection (and you probably know them all), it's certainly worth picking up.

1. “The Number Of The Beast” (1982) Taken from “The Number Of The Beast.”
2. “Can I Play With Madness” (1988) Taken from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.”
3. “Fear Of The Dark” (Live) (1993) Taken from “A Real Live One.”
4. “Run To The Hills” (1982) Taken from “The Number Of The Beast.”
5. “Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter” (1990) Taken from “No Prayer For The Dying." 
6. “The Evil That Men Do” (1988) Taken from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.”
7. “Aces High” (1984) Taken from “Powerslave.”
8. “Be Quick Or Be Dead” (1992) Taken from “Fear Of The Dark.”
9. “2 Minutes To Midnight” (1984) Taken from “Powerslave.”
10. “Man On The Edge” (1995) Taken from “The X Factor.”
11. “Virus” New recording.
12. “Running Free” (Live) (1985) Taken from “Live After Death.”
13. “Wasted Years” (1986) Taken from “Somewhere In Time.”
14. “The Clairvoyant” (1988) Taken from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.”
15. “The Trooper” (1983) Taken from “Piece Of Mind.”
16. “Hallowed By Thy Name” (1982) Taken from “The Number Of The Beast.”

For more information visit http://www.ironmaiden.com

"The X Factor" (Sanctuary; 1995)

Reviewed by TBJ

After coming off a farewell tour and album due to Bruce Dickinson’s decision to leave Iron Maiden, Steve Harris had to think of a way to let his fans know that nothing would change. 

But things did change. Out went Bruce, in went ex-Wolfsbane vocalist Blaze Bailey. Cries of "he sucks" and "he doesn’t have Bruce’s vocal range" were heard throughout the Maiden fanbase. Sales went down and interest dwindled but what was overlooked by many was the fact that "The X-Factor" may have well been Maiden’s best effort since "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son." I realize that’s a strong statement but there is much reason for me to think that way.

From "The X-Factor’s" dark lyrics, to its cover, to the themes surrounding each song, Maiden proved that change could be good. This, folks, is Maiden’s darkest, saddest and overall the most gothic-sounding disc. There’s an air of deep emotions permeating the tracks; from the epic "Sign of The Cross", to the multi-textured "The Unbeliever." Every time I feel kinda glum, there’s nothing like playing "Fortunes of War" to get the feelings flowing.

On this disc you will find no "Bring your Daughter …" or "From here to Eternity." This album is serious from beginning to end. Topics include war, the sad reality of an uneventful life, books, movies, etc. The music itself seems more complex and progressive than on Maiden's previous two albums. Nicko’s drums sound heavy as hell, guitarists Murray and Gers start to complement each other more smoothly, and Steve Harris’s bass is ever-powerful (he even does a little bass solo at the beginning on "Blood on the World’s Hands"). 

This is where things become tricky. It might be a matter of opinion, but as great as Bruce Dickinson is, I cant imagine him making a song like "Blood on The World's Hands" work as well Blaze Bailey does. Since Blaze’s style is more subtle and works best in the lower registers, a dark mood is created which just fits perfectly the type of music played on "The X Factor." Although Bailey seems able to hit high notes, it is in the lower registers that he obviously feels more comfortable, and it works for the best. 

In my opinion, "The X Factor" was never given a true chance by Bruce-followers, but - if you like your metal moody and full of emotion - try this one on. It works.

Iron Maiden: Blaze Bailey, vocals; Steve Harris, bass; Janick Gers and Dave Murray, guitars;  Nicko McBrain, drums.

For more info on what Maiden’s up to visit www.ironmaiden.com

"Live after Death" (Raw Power; 1985)

Reviewed by TBJ




There are many reasons why instead of reading this review, you should be listening to this CD right now (Editor's note: How about reading the review and listening to the CD at the same time?):

It’s Iron Maiden,
It’s Iron Maiden in their prime,
It’s Iron Maiden in their prime LIVE.

This album definitely marks an era when the flag of metal was waved high and proud and striped spandex was the norm!

This album produces the real deal, no fancy overdubbing, no piped in crowd. This is metal the way it’s supposed to be: live. The guitars are sharp and clear; the drums are correctly mixed in; the bass ... well, it’s Steve Harris, need I say more? And, of course, good ol’ Bruce wailing and screaming with so much feeling and passion that you can almost picture him clutching his fist in the air as he hits those high operatic notes.

If you haven’t listened to Iron Maiden (where the hell have you been?) this is the perfect way to get into them. It worked for me. The moment you hear Winston Churchill’s speech morph into "Aces High" you just know you're in for a ride you’ll never forget. 

It’s hard to point out standout tracks, but I’d say "Aces High" and "Revelations" rate, due to the intensity and passion of Bruce’s vocals. You are definitely depriving yourself from quality material if you don’t go out and get this CD. Now. 

Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson (vocals); Steve Harris (Bass); Dave Murray (guitar); Adrian Smith (Guitar); Nicko McBrain (Drums).

If you wish to find out more about Iron Maiden log on to http://www.ironmaiden.com

"Iron Maiden" (Sony; 1980)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Iron Maiden’s self-titled release was their first full length album. They paved the way for so many styles of music: speed, thrash and death metal. In listening to this early CD, I would have to say this is “unironed” maiden. It’s raw and -- although the intensity of their passion was apparent in their musical talent -- it just shows where they started and how far they’ve come ... and how far they will go. Plus, any band that entitles a song after the name of their band is just plain cool.

This CD features Iron Maiden's first lead singer: Paul Di’Anno. Di'Anno he has that heavy metal voice that, for all purposes, worked back when they started axe slinging. After DiAnno left, of course, Bruce Dickinson stepped in (then out, then in). Di'Anno now has a career of his own.

The guitars are really surprising on this disc, not only because the British sound is represented so well but because the solos are incredible. I remember when Iron Maiden first came out; people thought the devil wore black leather. The music is what grabbed me along with all the others who paid attention to the lyrics because they weren’t just about drugs, sex and rock'n'roll. Looking through the liner notes makes you think of the kids that were the opposites in school, and that’s what probably gave Iron Maiden their following.

Sometimes you will hear a hint of progressive guitar, and -- even though Iron Maiden was not considered a progressive band -- it showed that their musical talent was threefold. As I said above, the guitar solos are awesome. After a few listens you can hear some early work that translated into future solos. The songwriting also shows their intelligence as well as their musical skills. The production is very well done and remains one the best heavy metal releases that marked the British heavy metal invasion.

The best Eddie inspired cuts are “Running Free,” “Transylvania,” and “Iron Maiden.”

Iron Maiden: Paul Di’Anno – vocals; Steve Harris – bass; Dave Murray – guitar; Dennis Stratton – guitar; Clive Burr – drums.

For more information, check out www.ironmaiden.com.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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