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Awwwh yeah, this is what Maiden should have been sounding like. Well, at times anyway - it is not a perfect album and at times tends to be quite boring, but when this album is on, it is dead on....
"Freak" and "Starchildren" are two fairly average midpaced songs. They really aren't amazingly memorable, but are not bad. The weak part seems to be that the chorus doesn't immediately grab you and cut you to bits. (This would definitely become a problem on the NEXT Bruce album.) Then, we have the softer "Taking the Queen", which leads up into the absolutely incredible "Darkside of Aquarius".
Set phasers to BANG!! Fuck yeah, the main riff in here is fucking nuts. Total thrash metal here. The best song on here. This section is the strongest part of the album... from tracks 4 to about 9. "Road to Hell" is a bit simpler, more straightforward, also a winner. Then, we have the awesome "Man of Sorrows". One of the best ballads Bruce has ever done - this is the second coming of "Infinite Dreams" here. The piano bits add so much to the song, very well done.
Next. Repeat BANGING INTERVAL!!! "Jesus had his day off when they pulled you through!" Title track! Total Fucking Iron Maiden here... amazing song. "The Magician" is also quite nice, but a bit weaker... then we get "Welcome to the Pit" which really doesn't go anywhere, and "Capturing the Ghost of Cain", which has some decent verses and a totally over-the-top chorus that just doesn't quite work. Not bad, just not great. "Omega" and "Arc of Space" conclude the album, and both are solid but unspectacular - decently cool ballads, but not nearly as great as Man of Sorrows. Okay, that kind of thing is once in a lifetime, you can't expect two like that on the same album...
So what we have here is half of an unmitigated classic, sandwiched between some forgettable songs. The middle part of this album is incredible, showing a variety of songwriting strengths from flat-out speed metal monsters to great ballads. Definitely worth getting, when all is said and done.