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A gem - 95%

morbert, March 1st, 2010

…And if you thought The Trooper was a single which embodied Maiden in crystallised form, here’s ‘Aces High’! The pace is even higher and Bruce-era Maiden are getting close to the speed and rawness of the Di’Anno days with this tune. What a mixture of two brilliant eras of Maiden I must say. Blistering leads and marvellous harmonies, an outstanding vocal performance by Dickinson (which he unfortunately never could pull off live) and the rhythm section seems inexhaustibly energetic.
To this day ‘Aces High’ remains the most furious Dickinson-era Maiden tune (Moonchild following closely) and therefore an indispensable song from their massive discography.

As for the Nektar cover. I never fully understood why Maiden choose to just call it ‘King of Twilight’ when in fact the song consists of sections from two Nektar songs, including ‘Cryin in the Dark’, which actually is the first half of Maiden’s version. Nevertheless Maiden actually again manage to make drug-laden progrock sound like haunting metal as they did earlier with Jethro Tull. Once again, one of my favourite Maiden B-sides.

The live version of ‘Number Of The Beast’ is pretty good (one of the rare live recordings from the world Piece Tour) and released in a time when the world wasn’t already flooded with billion versions already. Nice addition but quite unnecessary since ‘King Of Twilight’ was already more than enough reason to get this EP.

As if this wasn’t enough already, we get one of the greatest Eddie drawings as well. What a superb cover. What a marvellous single!