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“Brave New World” has always been a mixed bag for me. Many songs on the album were still written with Blaze Bayley in the band. If I take into consideration how great Blaze Bayley’s first solo record “Silicon Messiah” turned out to be, I would have adored listening to a record that mixes the best tracks from that solo release and this comeback album with new old members Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith in the band. Most fans may disagree but I think a potential third record with Blaze Bayley would have been the better possibility.
As strange as it may sound, Blaze Bayley’s darker, very emotional and more grounded vocals would have fit better than Bruce Dickinson’s more expressive, high-pitched and theatrical tones on most songs of the record. A good example would be the melancholic ballade "Blood Brothers" that sounds a little bit too epic for a thoughtful swansong dedicated to Steve Harris' late father. "Dream of Mirrors" is a progressive metal song with a cumbersome atmosphere that could have found its righteous place on the previous release and would have been the best song on that album. I'm really imagining Blaze Bayley's darker and more emotional vocals each time I hear the song and think Bruce Dickinson's vocals sound too forced and strained on this track. Overall, this new record feels as if two worlds collided: the slower, epic and emotional tracks written in cooperation with Blaze Bayley and the more traditional, straighter and faster songs developed with Bruce Dickinson. These two sides don't always fusion well. While Bruce Dickinson performs truly well on the tracks he was involved in, he doesn’t manage to add that certain human and yet magic touch to the songs written without him in the band.
Another negative point is that I’ve heard the phenomenal live release “Rock in Rio” before discovering the studio versions on this album. I must admit that several tracks that build up great atmosphere, electrifying energy and vivid pace on stage sound rather boring on here which may also be due to a rather lifeless production. Especially the longer tunes such as “Brave New World”, “Blood Brothers” and “Dream of Mirrors” are lacking a certain kind of energy on the studio release.
On the positive side, the band’s overall song writing is much more balanced on this release than on several other post-reunion albums like “A Matter of Life and Death” and “The Final Frontier”. This release includes a few energizing and short hymns such as the powerful opener “The Wicker Man” or the quite heavy and slightly hysterical “The Fallen Angel” that add both to the diversity and the flow of the release. One gets a few calmer and laid-back epics that can be seen as transitions from the last record with Blaze Bayley to the new era such as “Brave New World” and “Blood Brothers”. Finally, the band also delivers a couple of more progressive rock and metal infused tracks with long introductions and different promising ideas such as the Middle Eastern folk sounds on “The Nomad” and the complex yet rocking closer “The Thin Line Between Love and Hate”. From this point of view, the record never gets too boring. The problem with the last category of songs is that it includes several great instrumental and vocal melodies but that the overall song writing isn’t always concise. What I mean is that several longer tracks on the record are composed of different parts that work well on their own but don’t always seem to fit together. They feel a little bit hectically patched together here and there. These tracks also include a few unnecessary lengths that drag interesting atmospheres on for too long or take out the dynamic elements of a track. In these moments, the band is really losing me and I guess that fans of shorter and more traditional heavy metal songs may feel alike.
All these reasons lead to a point where I feel slightly confused about this release. I really like Adrian Smith’s signature guitar sound and the use of three different guitar players who are all quite diversified song writers. In general, I also think that Bruce Dickinson still has a phenomenal voice and may even sound better in certain songs on this release than he sounded in the late eighties and early nineties where he started to lack enthusiasm. Now, he is back with a fresh spirit and one really feels that the band put all its heart blood into this release. The song writing is balanced and diversified and the record is very entertaining as it includes shorter tracks that impress quickly and more complex tunes that open up as time goes by. Still, many parts of the release feel patched together in a hurry and don’t always fit together. Several songs already indicate a problem that would get even bigger on the next releases as many tracks include more or less fitting overlong introductions and plodding instrumental parts. The production is also little bit too calm and lifeless for a heavy metal comeback release in my opinion. In the end, the positive elements are still stronger than the negative ones. I must though admit that there is no Iron Maiden release I have listened to less than to this one. I know it’s a solid record but it has somehow become a dust collector in my collection. In Iron Maiden’s extensive and groundbreaking discography, I would categorize this overhyped record as a slightly below average effort. Among the so-called post-reunion records, I clearly prefer both the extremely diversified “Dance of Death” and the coherently dark and almost concept-like “A Matter of Life and Death” to this album.
In the year 2000, Iron Maiden released what would easily be their best album. My assertion should by no means indicate to you the Maiden purist that I'm ignorant of the band's legacy preceding this album because as a matter of fact I am not. I have listened with much enthusiasm as the next metalhead to the albums from the glory days and although they contain certified classics, they are by and large inconsistent works but accepted for what they are as metal was in its formative stages.
"Piece Of Mind" for instance is prevented from flawlessness by the unnecessary "Quest For Fire" and rather bland "Die With Your Boots On" and "Suns And Steel". I have plenty of issues with "The Number Of The Beast" and "Somewhere In Time" that I won't expound on because this review isn't about them. The first two records were genius except for the fact that they lack Bruce Dickinson's voice (Di'Anno sounds a tad goofy and unconvincing in comparison) and Nicko McBrain's masterful pound. Only "Powerslave" comes close to perfection and should by all means continue to be heralded as a masterpiece of metal for years and years to come.
With "Brave New World" I feel the grandiose and expansive elements of "Powerslave:" and "Seventh son Of A Seventh Son" become more cohesive and due to the fact that the players have matured in age and experience since then, the songs here have a classier edge and although the brute force of spirit is alive and well, I feel it is well guided and applied carefully. Iron Maiden exercise restraint to such great extent on "Brave New World" that you feel no random notes were struck. Everything is served in the right doses and they manage to deliver a thoroughly complete work. The album boasts of ballsy, quickly memorable rockers like "The Wicker Man', "The Mercenary", "and "The Fallen Angel" that could easily stand neck to neck to the overly touted staples such as "Run To The Hills", "2 Minutes To Midnight" and "Can I Play With Madness".
"The Mercenary" in particular echoes the resounding spirit of "The Trooper" and though it might pale a tad in comparison it fits well in the flow of the album. It follows "Blood Brothers"-a great song to hear live-and precedes the lovably dramatic "Dream Of Mirrors" which was actually conceived before Bayley's exit but just wouldn't have worked as well with his voice on top of things.
What makes this album such a monument is because it is absolute Maiden. All the songs are quintessentially theirs - you don't get any sense that they're veering off the rails and trying "something new" yielding dubious results as is the case with "A Matter Of Life And Death" (fondly referred to as AMOLAD) and the severely bloated "The Final Frontier". They are in their element here a hundred percent and sometimes listening feels like walking into an Iron Maiden Museum.
"The Mercenary" pays light tribute to "The Trooper", the title track inspired by the Huxley tale resembles "Fear Of The Dark", "The Nomad" dares to reawaken the might of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" and "The Thin Line Between Love And Hate" takes the emotional power first felt on "Hallowed Be Thy Name" to even deeper depths. Its like all the best features of Maiden are on display but given ultra brilliance from an entirely new light source.
Three guitarists are now in the fold for one as opposed to before and the riffs are more meatier this timer round. Steve Harris is as audible as usual and I've always said he plays the bass like a plant - you can hear it grow as the song progresses. The legato fuelled guitar solos are a highlight on each song. They range from distantly classical to faintly folky and never sound wasteful or random-they have character and serve the songs well.The harmony guitar interplay on "Out Of The Silent Planet" for instance embellishes what would have been a rather bland passage.
Nicko McBrain is the backbone - without him it wouldn't work as well as it does. Sometimes seeing only the front you forget what holds it in place. But he is content to man his fort in the back and what his trusty kit does more than anything is to give the songs presence as everything else then takes flight.
The lyrics that stood out for me were those of "Ghost Of The Navigator", "Blood Brothers" and "The Thin Line..." Bruce Almighty is in fine form from start to finish. I've always admired him but I always thought in the past there was a reckless edge about his voice. It is absent here and I instead find him graceful and seasoned.
I'll have to note in passing that the album is probably the logical bridge between Iron Maiden's glorious past and dubious future. But when you reach this here bridge I suggest you make the pace of your walk leisurely. It is most worthwhile.
Ah, Iron Maiden. They are easily one of the most influential bands of all time, up there with Blind Guardian and Judas Priest. And like most early metal, they are from England, which again shows up the American music scene (but if that is a surprise to you, open your eyes!). This album is from when Iron Maiden showed back up on the radar with them bringing back vocalist Bruce Dickinson, a very important decision. This will help them phenomenally after fails like Virtual XI and others that are too horrible to mention. As the label says on the CD, welcome to 21st century Maiden.
The best way to look at this album is by dividing the songs into three groups, based on the length of the song. All of these songs contain that distinct Iron Maiden sound, and unlike some of their other works, this album just screams power metal. Soaring vocals, ripping guitars that chug and amaze, plus a drummer that can enter and leave his mark at will, all contribute to that delightful conclusion, as power metal is one of the most legendary genres.
So first, let us examine the short songs. These are Wicker Man, The Mercenary, and The Fallen Angel. This is the most underused style of song on the album and appeals directly to the mainstream radio metal. Most of the time I’m against this, but here it works beautifully. Solos are nice, sweet, technical, melodic, short and memorable, which really pulls the song together as it ends. These songs also make use of a very catchy chorus which really indicates the attempt at mainstream. However, when most of the time these annoy me, it works delightfully here. Occasionally with bands like Blind Guardian that might get overused, but with only three songs styled like that it is a welcome respite from the rest of the album.
Next on the table are the medium length songs which clock in at around six to seven minutes. These are Ghost of the Navigator, Brave New World, Blood Brothers, and Out of the Silent Planet. These songs differ from those aforementioned in that they all feature some type of intro or slowed down solo section (Blood Brothers is the only one). They might feature acoustic guitar (Brave New World), some folk elements (Blood Brothers), an epic buildup (Ghost of the Navigator), or maybe even a solo right in the beginning (Out of the Silent Planet).
As these songs progress, you can tell with relative that these are the star songs of the album, and it is where Iron Maiden is most comfortable overall, in my own amateur opinion. The song writing takes things much more complex and intricate than the shorter ones, and solos abound in much longer sessions, which defy the mind. The soloists could be any of the THREE guitarists, each with their own distinct style that comes through, although I have no clue who is who. It is also these three guitarists which I do not feel is utilized at every moment, but then again there is very little material out there which does exhibit that many. A missed opportunity, but still very good guitar work on these songs.
The last three songs to be mentioned are each about nine minutes long, and these are Dream of Mirrors, The Nomad, and The Thin Line between Love and Hate. These songs take it nice and slow with their interchanging tempos, which also keep me interested, especially on the repetitive speed demon Dream of Mirrors. I appreciate that they take these long songs slow, as they provide a good deal more imagery than other longer songs (Nile comes to mind as one who doesn’t, but they are a another story entirely, on the opposite end of the metal spectrum). These songs feature absolutely entrancing solos (The Thin Line between Love and Hate is great at that), which mesmerize the listener and shows us why this is Iron Maiden, capable of all this on a single album, not amateurs.
These long songs also feature the most interesting drumming on the album. There is interesting double bass pedal work throughout, but the real talent is shown on these longer and middle length songs. Here, intricate rhythms seamlessly intertwine with the leading melodies in an accomplishment of songwriting. Dickinson is also most at home when he sings here and the vocals are astonishingly clear and the story is keeping you on the edge of your seat almost as much as the song. OK, not really but the lyrics are interesting, despite their vague meanings.
I feel that this album was an instant classic, and shows us today with new Iron Maiden albums coming out, what the standard is for Iron Maiden, and it is very high. The legendary band shocks you with their recent return and how much they can pick up from their last album. Must buys; Ghost of the Navigator and The Thin Line between Love and Hate, but any of the middle length songs are also highly recommended. Actually, I love every song on here. But I’ve ranted enough. Good buy. God, I am make too many puns.
In three decades of listening to heavy metal music, there are few periods in which I was so glum and down on a band as the awkward, silent years after Iron Maiden released the atrocious Virtual XI, which pretty much tolled the death knell for the band with Blaze Bayley on vocals. Once again, I should clarify that I actually do like Blaze, in particular his work with Wolfsbane and his solo band, but he just never felt right in this band...and of the few live performances I've heard, in only a few of the songs was he clearly doing justice to the Maiden standards. Having Dickinson off with a fairly successful solo career (making better records than Maiden) and watching the world race past with a revival of power and classic NWOBHM sounds in the late 90s must have all shaken off on Harris and co. The result was that the band were going to reunite with the 80s, Dickinson lineup, Blaze graciously stepping aside.
So Bruce and Adrian Smith joined back up, and the band decided to keep Janick Gers for the three guitar attack. To be fair, the guy put in enough work to deserve it, and having seen them live in this incarnation, I can honestly say the three guitars do not hurt. As the result of all this kissing and making up, Maiden released Brave New World right about the turn of the century, and oh my was it glorious. Not in the jaw dropping, new masterpiece sense, but by the simple virtue that one of your favorite heavy metal albums had released their best album in over a decade (since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son), and gone were the grim memories of the tired and spent Iron Maiden of the 90s. Brave New World is not a perfect album, but it's a damn good effort, and as there have been no more brave new worlds since, well...I'll take it.
I will say that the band wasted no time in placing the best track on the album in the opening slot, and "Wicker Man" had me parading about the streets when I first heard it, wearing a denim jacket far too small for me, reeking of old alcohol and grunge, but absolutely no regret! No, sir. The song reminded me of everything I had always loved about this band...solid old heavy metal rhythm guitars, brazen vocal melodies and a solo that has more to offer than some showboat's flatulence. Granted, this is a happier song than most of the band's past glories, but it certainly has an emotional impact, as any track with Bruce Dickinson pointing at you and screaming 'Your time will come!' is likely to have towards any fan, on so many levels. Quite an exhilarating song, and the rest of Brave New World had its work cut out for it...
And to my surprise, I was not disappointed. "Ghost of the Navigator" has a spacious, airy feel to the driving guitars, and a powerful, soaring chorus that shows Dickinson has not skipped a beat since his earlier years with the band. "Brave New World" trots along like one of those desperate old tracks like "Quest for Fire", with a nice segment around 3:00 where Bruce highlights the guitar melody, and a crisp, emotional dual lead near the final chorus. "Blood Brothers" is hard not to enjoy for its folksy swagger, though it does take a few minutes to really pick up into its string section. But for that final, sailing chorus, it is entirely worthwhile. "The Mercenary" is one of the tracks that was originally written for Virtual XI but ended up here. It's not the best song on this album, but I have to wonder, why the HELL was this not included on the predecessor since it clobbers anything on that album many times over.
Ditto for "Dream of Mirrors", which is supposedly co-written by Blaze Bayley. Not a great track, and certainly not enough good riffs to support its bloated 9+ minute bulk, but still would have amped up Virtual XI a little, and I can even mentally hear Blaze's vocals. "The Fallen Angel" has a killer lead-in riff which brings me back to a song like "Be Quick or Be Dead", but then surges into a solid mid-paced majestic rhythm which makes you want to swill your mug and then smash it off someone's head. The vocal hook in the pre-chorus is extremely cool, and the chorus does not disappoint as the guitar melody begins to dance below it. "The Nomad" is another track from a few years before, and while it has some great atmosphere, mystic leads and vocal climaxing courtesy of Bruce's weathered throat, we have another case where the 9 minutes isn't entirely justified through the actual music. "Out of the Silent Planet" is based loosely on some pulp sci-fi stories (like the C.S. Lewis novel of the same name, and the classic film Forbidden Planet), and features some great speed metal licks when it picks up the pace from its sobering, psychedelic intro. The chorus here is yet another killer, though obvious. "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate" is probably the only longer track here does itself justice, with a slow escalation towards the climactic chorus, where the standard rhythm falls out for some thrusting drums and emotional screaming. The song serves as a pseudo-biography for the band's separation in the 90s.
Brave New World has a very bold production which also separates it from the band's prior recordings, but I have mixed feelings on this as I loved the old 80s sound. It's got a punchier edge to the guitars and feels more 'digital', but the melodies carry through gracefully and it certainly delivers if you've got good listening equipment. Style-wise, the writing does pick up where Fear of the Dark left off, ignoring the blandness of the two albums in between, and I do get confused that the 1992 album gets so much grief when this does not, but I do think this is the better of the two, so with Dickinson and Smith back in the fold they had tagged the clouds once more and were off, writing in the sky.
Highlights: The Wicker Man, The Fallen Angel, Out of the Silent Planet, The Thin Line Between Love and Hate
Blaze Bayley's tenure in Iron Maiden is often seen as something of a low point for the band, both vocally and compositionally. Although the two albums he recorded with the band were undeniably flawed, they did have a few moments of excellence and these innovations were not discarded with the return of Bruce Dickinson to the fold. With Brave New World, the band make no attempt to reset their sound to the hook-driven immediacy of the early '80s, or worse, the directionless rock pandering of No Prayer For The Dying and (most of) Fear of the Dark). Instead, the reunited writing team of Dickinson, Harris, Murray and Smith, now aided by Janick Gers, staged a triumphant expansion of the progression hinted at on The X Factor and Virtual XI, with flavours of Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son.
The result is probably my third favourite Maiden album (after the last two I mentioned), as well as the pinnacle of Maiden's 21st century renaissance. The album constantly returns to the themes of travel and creating/ finding new identities, but occasionally becomes more specific in its references to the Aldous Huxley novel it takes its name from - aside from the title track, 'Dream Of Mirrors' seems to be a critique of the concept of sleep-learning. 'Blood Brothers' meanwhile is more than a romantic paean to universal brotherhood, and could easily be a glance at Emile Zola's Etienne Lantier, who 'laughed at his earlier idealism, his schoolboy vision of a brave new world in which justice would reign and men would be brothers.' With that quote in mind, the song's lyrics take on a distinctly more serious tone, though not entirely despairing.
While I usually ignore lyrical content in my reviews, the above is key to the album; Dickinson was putting more thought into his lyrics than ever before, and the stories told are one element of a more considered and cohesive approach to writing an album. The album is lovingly crafted, based around melodies that favour atmosphere and a grandiose pomp over the straight for the throat catchy riffs and leads of old. Even the swift opener 'The Wicker Man' with its exultant guitar curls and empowering chorus chant is hardly humming material, with more focus on technicality and scale. Its evil brother, 'The Mercenary' is an instant Maiden classic with a gritty do-or-die message, an anthemic chorus and a mean attitude. It would have made a good opener to the album, but also serves well as a shot of adrenalin to the heart amidst the beauteous extravagance of 'Blood Brothers' and 'Dream Of Mirrors.'
The album is also a lot heavier than the two previous ones, in part due to Janick Gers having stayed on with the return of Adrian Smith. Together with Dave Murray they provide an exceedingly tasty platter of urgent riffs that rock harder and heavier than 'Futureal' and such, crunching power chords during the choruses and heroic leads that sail over Nicko's characteristic gallops and tumbling fills. Not to mention a wealth of solos that range from Smith's carefully designed classical pieces to Gers' more forceful, freeform bursts.
The early part of the album is mostly comprised of three semi-epic songs that build from clean, melodic guitar sections into heavier riffing and anthemic vocal lines that return to the opening melodies. 'Ghost Of The Navigator', the title track, and 'Blood Brothers' vary in pacing and scale but are all very beautiful in their own way, setting dark and heavy sections against anthemic bridges and emotional performances from The Air Raid Siren, who still lives up to that moniker despite often using a softer and more regulated style. 'Brave New World' is among my favourites on this album, often making me a little emotional although I'm not quite sure why. There's no denying however that the chorus, simply repeating the title, is a moment of chest-beating exuberance and emotion for both the singer and the listener. Classic stuff, this.
If this is to be called a progressive metal album, and to me it does not pretend to any genre but is rather a natural growth of Maiden's natural leanings toward the grand and evocative, but if it is then a song like 'Out Of The Silent Planet' is an example of how progressive should be done. It is very simply constructed and revolves around the repeated lines 'out of the silent planet, out of the silent planet we are' and 'out of the silent planet, dreams of devastation, out of the silent planet, come the demons of creation.' Even at over six minutes it seems one of the catchiest and easiest songs on here, and is a good argument for simplicity over pointless progressive widdling. 'The Thin Line Between Love And Hate' is a funny way to end the album, shedding the contemplative nature of the bulk of Brave New World for an upbeat and power metal inspired charge to the finish. By funny, I don't mean to complain - its movement into a tranquil and smooth outro, almost reminiscent of Anathema's Eternity album, is sublime, and it is always healthy for an album to end with something unexpected rather than have all cannons fired before the grand finale.
With Virtual XI, Iron Maiden had moved away from the flamboyantly progressive and unpredictable compositional diversity of epics like 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' and 'Sign Of The Cross' (which were built on the freeform climbing structure of 'Hallowed Be Thy Name') toward the era of repetitive Iron Maiden epics. Much like 'The Clansman' and 'The Angel And The Gambler', 'Dream Of Mirrors' and 'The Nomad' are more slowed down, expanded and enriched than other songs on the album, while being characterized by central motifs that are returned to instead of discarded for other things. Choruses and other repeated vocal parts are a focus, but with plenty of allowance made for instrumental rambling and building atmospheres. The reason these pieces are so successfully enthralling is the fact that each makes itself known for its content rather than its length, never feeling as if they are eight or nine minutes for the sake of being epic and progressive.
Although Blaze's career in Iron Maiden was ultimately ill-fated, it gave Dickinson the time to explore a few other musical territories, to eventually fall back in love with metal, and to return to an Iron Maiden rejuvenated with more passion and creativity than it had benefited from for twelve years. The meanderings of '90s Maiden had also set the foundations for a new and more matured sound, exhibited with surpassing excellence on this album. There is not a single track on here I feel could have been left off, or abridged or changed in any way. The brilliance of the album is that ideas are allowed to run their full course no matter how long it takes, and it is a richer and better experience for it.
As for Bruce, in the words of Nicko as the album fades, 'Aah, I fuckin' missed 'im!'
IRON MAIDEN are an enigma to me. While I both understand and respect the incessant lauding the band has received since their initial inception (or for some, after "Number of the Beast" was released), for all their flair and elegance their music has always been quite middle of the road and bland to me. The music seems easily enjoyable, energetic, and able to generate plentiful fist pumps...for the first few songs. But once you get halfway through and are treated to more of the same it's like feasting on a supper of saltines and water; sure, it's filling, but leaves leaves the palette uninterested and blah. I gave this band more than a fair share of honest tries, unfortunately to the same conclusion time and again, so I figured it would suit us both well if I were to just leave them to their dedicated fanbase and for me to fuck off into that goodnight. That was, until a high school chum made me listen to this, stating its importance and all-out awesomeness within both the MAIDEN and metal world, hoping to change my perspective
Nope. Didn't happen.
I'm not saying IRON MAIDEN is a bad band, far from it; they're very capable and professional musicians who know their craft and do it well. It's just that my tastes have been tempered since day one with more extreme and relatively differing acts to the point where ensconcing of the NWOBHMy kind just doesn't cut the mustard. As with JUDAS PRIEST and MANOWAR I'm not really thrown by the more simplistic and humbly necessary old-timers in this day and age, and "Brave New World" doesn't help matters.
This album screams "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", obviously remembering the days of yore and catering to it in absolute spades. However, this time around the energy and interestingness is watered down, coming off more as "MAIDEN by numbers" as opposed to the Seventh Son of A Real Live Beast that plugged along for years. In my eyes this isn't quite the rebirth of the MAIDEN that many people have made it out to be. When it comes to the performance, however, the listener gets a column A-column B dilemna...Steve Harris is still a master of the four stringer, plinking along to his heart's content as the rest of the band follows suit in varying degrees; from the good end of the human metronone-style drumwork of Mr. McBrain to Bruce Dickinsen's air-raid siren wails still having the punch and power they once had, to the bad end of overly-rhythmic, phoned-in guitar riffing and the same lack of original ideas that's plagued the band. When the band is on, they're on, as evidenced by the stronger "The Fallen Angel" and "Dream of Mirrors", but they also fall flat on their faces with clunkers like "The Wicker Man" and "Out of the Silent Planet"...essentially it starts strong (outside of "Wicker Man") and slowly fades into oblivion by the album's conclusion.
So all in all this didn't quite live up to its original expectations for me, nor did it really change my mind about the IRON MAIDEN world. Unfortunate, I'll admit...but to each his/her own, and this still slated the hunger of all MAIDENites the world over. Sorry guys, I tried.
Yeeees!! Our dreams have finally come true. Bruce Dickinson, the ultimate metal singer has returned back where he belongs. Okay, he has done very well in his solo career but this band is his home. Steve Harris realized, at last, that the experiment with Bailey wasn’t getting anywhere and that they were running out of time. So he sent him back to the nothingness from where he came. Now the Iron Maiden strikes back! Forget the Priest-Halford fairytale. This IS the ultimate reunion! And even more as now Maiden have three, (yes three!) guitarists. Adrian Smith has also joined them once again to give them fresh ideas. Hell yeah!
They knew there wouldn’t be another chance. Their reunion album would either bring them to the throne of heavy metal or it would sign their death sentence. So, they charged full ahead and they won. Brave New World brings Seventh Son… ten years closer, being a natural development in the band’s glorious history. It is almost flawless, proud, inspired and it widely unfolds all the elements that created the legend of Iron Maiden.
So, what is there in this album? Ten songs that will rock your ass off! Filled with great guitars, superb bass, pounding drums and majestic vocals, the songs vary from good to perfect. From the first hearing you realize that the compositions are made exactly to fit Bruce’s vocals. He is in such a great form, just like the old days. The opener track, The Wicker Man is a classic Maiden piece. Explosive and rhythmic, it features heavy riffs, imposing vocals and McBrain’s dynamic double-boots playing on the drums. The album’s first single and what a way to start off! Then follows Ghost of The Navigator, with a beautiful melodic intro, multiple breaks, inspired lyrics and an astonishing performance by Bruce that reminds us of the Powerslave era. Simply brilliant.
The self-titled song is of mid-tempo mostly but there are quite a few changes in the rhythm that make it very interesting. And it has a very nice chorus that sticks to your mind. And behold, Blood Brothers, with violin (!!) melodies and Bruce’s epic way of singing, creates an atmosphere not to familiar of Iron Maiden. Yet again, it’s another surprise by the band. After all, why should they be so monotonous every time? Yeah, right, you’d wish! The Mercenary is the next in line and the aggressive, sharp guitars are here to get us in motion. The old chaps haven’t forgotten how to rock.
Dream of Mirrors is truly a dreamy song. Nine minutes of unrepeatable melodies, sudden breaks, an amazing Dickinson and a feeling of paranoia is floating in the air. Definitely, it is one of the best moments of the album. I wonder where Maiden and Bruce would be if they hadn’t found each other. A volley of guitars and drums blow us away on the demonic The Fallen Angel. It’s a heavy metal blaster with three great solos from the fantastic trio, Murray/Smith/Gers. And here comes the absolute masterpiece, a rough cut diamond titled The Nomad. Maiden feed our hunger for greatness with another nine minute oriental storm, with breaks, solos and an imposing atmosphere. Divinity is the only word that comes to my mind for this one.
The remaining two songs are nice and catchy, though some of you may find them a bit mediocre. Mostly I’m referring to The Thin Line Between Love and Hate that might confuse you since it is a bit out of place. On the other hand, Out of the Silent Planet starts kind of slow but turns into well played heavy metal. They are just a step below the rest of the album.
Brave New World sounds like a traditional Maiden album and it consists, as a total, of the best composing ideas they have had for ten years. Let’s be honest, it cannot replace the “holy trinity” (The Number… Powerslave… Piece of Mind) but it stands proudly along their side. I have no doubt that their faithful fans were delirious, those who questioned their abilities were forced to rethink and their few enemies just kept singing the same old song. Let them fuck of and die while you dive in the ocean of Maiden’s majesty. Their banner waves high again!
Perhaps the main reason that I had been attracted to heavy metal is the fact that the artists consistently utilize various works of literature, art, and other accomplishments of the human race throughout history as the subjects of their music. For some bands, mythology and culture received emphasis while others may focus on military conflicts of the past. For the band Iron Maiden, the focus has been on history and literature. When I decided to do a review on a Maiden album I decided not to do one of their earlier more influential pieces but rather the album they created when Bruce Dickinson returned to the band after a brief hiatus.
“Brave New World” is the album that Iron Maiden released in 2000. The album is created in the likeness of the novel with the same name, and the album returns to the general theme of the novel throughout its span. Certain themes such as the future, transformation, death, and companionship are all explored in this album.
One fascinating thing, to me personally that I feel I should mention, is that this album is released as the 12th full-length album by Iron Maiden. I find it damned impressive for a band to release so many albums and remain consistently good without allowing the perverting grasp of commercialism transform the band from an epic group of metal pioneers (like Metallica, pre-Black album) to a bunch of whiny pussies bitching about royalties and putting their music aside. Maiden’s legacy is, in my opinion, well-deserved and it is nothing but enhanced by this release.
Now, on to the music. The album opens with [i]The Wickerman[/i], an incredibly catchy tune that has some less than enlightened lyrics. Despite the fact that the lyrics are rather poor, the song utilizes Dickinson’s singing style better than most Maiden songs. The way that the band flows so naturally throughout the song is nothing but inspiring. [i]The Ghost of the Navigator[/i] is a filler song in a way, but it has some catchy guitar work and some interesting allusions (although not related to the novel that this album mirrors.)
The title track is a good track, but it certainly is not the best in the album. The chorus is somewhat repetitive and doesn’t really say much more than “brave new world!” over and over again. They have a few good strips of time where the band’s three guitars remind you why you love Iron Maiden. [i]Blood Brothers[/i] is another one of those songs that proves that the band knows how to flow and more importantly how to use their incredibly singer.
The following three tracks are vastly inferior to the opening tracks on this album. They are much longer and in all honesty they do not accomplish as much as the other songs do, despite taking an average of 2 minutes more per song. [i]Out of the Silent Planet[/i] is the archetype of a filler and is easily forgotten. The album ends with, [i]The Thin Line Between Love and Hate[/i], which is largely out of place on this album. It has quite a few slow spots on the song, which although not inherently bad, they do wanting to listen to the first four songs on the album again for those catchy riffs.
Iron Maiden would go on to release two more full-length albums after this release, and neither of them are as good as Brave New World. Regardless, Maiden will be forever cemented as one of the Gods of metal, and this album certainly doesn't disappoint.
“Brave New World” is the 12th studio album by Iron Maiden, and in my opinion, the best. This album has an amazing cover, and also brings back Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith to the lineup. The production quality and mixing on this album is top notch; everything sounds great and you can hear all the band members very clearly. The album’s cover and title track are based on the novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. I would suggest looking the book up for more information, because the description is very complicated. Anyway, let’s get on with the album.
This album is has very mixed styles, containing both melodic tracks, (Blood Brothers, The Thin Line Between Love and Hate) “Classic Maiden” sounding tracks, (The Fallen Angel, The Mercenary) and epic tracks (Brave New World, The Nomad). The solos on this album are all fantastic; In particular, the solos on Brave New World and The Nomad are some of the most epic things I have ever heard. I thought all of the tracks are amazing, particularly Brave New World, The Nomad, The Thin Line Between Love and Hate, and The Ghost of the Navigator. The Nomad is an especially great Middle Eastern sounding song.
The chorus’ on this release are generally more melodic than catchy, and the verses are generally more serious than on older releases. Many of the songs create very distinct atmospheres, examples including Ghost of the Navigator’s dark atmosphere and The Nomad’s desert atmosphere. The Thin Line between Love and Hate closes the album in a very fitting way, with its soft guitars and melody near the end of the song. On your first listen, shut the album off as soon as the closing track ends; the atmosphere may be ruined by some comic relief in the last few seconds.
Overall the album has a very epic feel to it. Even the more fast paced tracks have an epic feel to them. One major suggestion of mine is to listen to this with headphones or surround sound. The album does not as much atmosphere if you do not hear the music all around you. Some essential parts of the music will not be very apparent if you listen to this without headphones or surround sound.
The band members perform beautifully on the album. Bruce Dickinson’s singing sounds less high pitched than on previous releases and fits the feel of the album extremely well. All three guitars play in an excellent unison and create an amazing sound. The added rhythm guitars greatly enhance the sound of the solos. Nicko McBrain’s drumming sounds especially powerful on this album. And Steve Harris’ bass provides a more slow rhythm which also greatly fits the feel of the album.
As much as I want to give my favorite album of all time a perfect score, I cannot because of a few minor flaws, such as an annoying chorus’ on Blood Brothers and Out of the Silent Planet and the weird guitar during the chorus in The Wicker Man. The issue mentioned in paragraph four is another minor problem. I understand that some fans cannot enjoy this album; my guess is because the album has only a few songs that sound like classic Maiden. If you think a change to a slower epic style may annoy you, keep your expectations for this release low. I definitely think this is one of Iron Maiden’s greatest releases, along with Powerslave and Somewhere in Time. Up the Irons!
Expectations were high before the release of “Brave New World”. First of all, because Bruce Dickinson returned to the band and many people wanted to see if he was able to transform the band into the heavy metal machine that it once was. Adrian Smith also returned, forming a trio of guitarists together with David Murray and Janick Gers. In the end, “Brave New World” turned out to be a fascinating album, much better than anything the band released since “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”. Allow me to explain why...
First of all, in a compositional level, all the songs are fantastic. Really. It's like the band spent lots and lots of time composing the record. They are extremely varied, from straight-forward, catchy tunes, like the opener, to more progressive, complex epics like “Dream of Mirrors”. There are lots of mellow, soft parts within the songs and they all sound amazingly well, inspired and heartfelt (check out the beautiful “Blood Brothers”). There's also an inclusion of some keyboard lines here and there, mainly during that afore mentioned calm parts, and that really gives an amazing (and special) atmosphere to the album.
This atmosphere is also highlighted because of the excellent production, which is reminiscent of the one on “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”. Everything is audible, with the vocals assuming the main role; the bass is always there to give an extra groove to the songs and the guitars sound awesome, blending perfectly with the keyboards. The drums are extremely well mixed too, finally we can hear the bass drums of Mr. Nicko McBrain, who seems to get better over the time, since his performance here is very very good, not overplaying anything yet delivering a relatively technical performance. His tone is great too, in my opinion.
Bruce Dickinson's amazing vocal performance is another essential ingredient of “Brave New World”, his screams and wails are reminiscent of the band's past efforts, and that's saying something. He doesn't rasp anymore, like he did on “Fear of the Dark” and thank God for that! He also brought a lot of energy to the band, a thing that everyone can notice by hearing one or two songs of “Virtual XI” and then listening to “Wicker Man” or “Ghost of the Navigator”. Really, he is essential to Iron Maiden.
So, there's lots of highlights here and, most of all, there's NO FILLERS, which is something remarkable, since Iron Maiden is a band that can't deliver records without fillers (“Powerslave”, my favourite album ever, being a notable exception). The journey begins with “Wicker Man”, an energic track, featuring a great guitar performance. Its chorus is also anthemic (“Your time will cooooome!!”); in fact, all the songs are pretty catchy, which is a plus. “Ghost of the Navigator” is another highlight, I just love the amazing, soft beginning and how the song then turns into a relatively fast heavy metal number... great! One of the best songs of the bunch.
Then, there's the title track, another great song, beginning, again, calmly, evolving later to heavier parts, where Bruce screams the catchy chorus. “Blood Brothers” is another favourite, a soft song with awesome keyboard melodies. “The Mercenary” is faster and more aggressive, leading the way to “Dream of Mirrors”, a song composed during the “Virtual XI” sessions, which absolutely kicks ass. Great great epic. “The Fallen Angel” is another straight-forward rocker, a bit weak but worth listening. The record ends with three long songs, the first one being “Nomad”, a song that I don't like that much (I can't get into it), “Out of the Silent Planet”,a decent tune, a bit overlong, and “The Thin Line Between Love and Hate”, this one being an excellent closer.
So, looking to “Dance of Death” and “A Matter of Life and Death”, the two albums that were released by the band after this one, I conclude that “Brave New World” somewhat mixes the simple structures of the majority of the songs on “Dance of Death” with the exaggerated complexity of “A Matter of Life and Death”... And guess what, in the end, “Brave New World” is much better than those two records. It loses a bit of power near the end (“Fallen Angel”, “Nomad” and “Out of the Silent Planet” are a bit weak, unfortunately) but it still is a great album, one of the most melodic records Iron Maiden ever recorded. Better than the majority of the 80's catalogue of the band? Hmm... Am I blaspheming if I say so?
Best Moments of the CD:
-the ending of “Wicker Man”.
-the crescendo of “Ghost of the Navigator”.
-the part of “Blood Brothers” where a beautiful keyboard riff picks up.
-the beginning of “Dream of Mirrors”.
I had expected it would be a matter of time before Dickinson would rejoin Maiden or even another vocalist replacing Blaze eventually. I never expected to see Adrian Smith again though. Glad he’s back though. Even though Gers was the more flashier player, I prefer the looks, style and coolness of Smith. Not forgetting to mention that smith is able to write far more rocking metal tunes than the lightweight rock ‘n’ roll Gers from time to time writes for the group. But now we have all three guitarists in the band and this seems somewhat overdone. I understand they just can’t fire Gers because Maiden are a bunch of swell guys and because it is a challenge to try it with three guitarist but it still remains weird to this day.
Anyway, Smith and Dickinson immediately wrote a fair bunch of material for this album and the credits show this album was written more by the band as a whole than a few individuals bringing finished products to the rehearsal room. In some cases this works (Blood Brothers, Ghost Of The Navigator) but sometimes it becomes an overstretched mess (the title track).
It is good to hear Dickinson singing Maiden songs again. He has a clear voice with much dynamics, giving the music something extra. How classic the X-factor would have been with Dickinson singing those songs. He couldn’t have saved the awful Virtual XI album though. This album mostly mixes the X-factor style with No Prayer for The Dying and incidentally refers to their eighties days. Don’t expect really fast songs of intense riffing on “Brave New World”. The album is more about chord progressions and melodies. Adrian Smith did however put riffs (Wicker Man, The Fallen Angel) back into Iron Maiden fortunately.
As said two of the highlights are Ghost Of The Navigator and Blood Brothers. Both are lengthy epic tunes from which “Ghost of the Navigator” sounds most traditional in the “Afraid To Shoot Strangers / To Tame A Land” kind of way. “Blood Brothers” brings interesting string arrangements to a folk-orientated waltz. A new approach which works out remarkably well.
Opening tune “The Wicker Man” shows Adrian Smith at his best. A simple rocker which balances between good old hardrock and heavy metal with some steady riffing and a decent chorus (not mind blowing though). The fourth track worth mentioning is the epic “Dream of Mirrors” which features Gers in the credits and he has surpassed himself here. Even though the chorus is a bit too hardrockish it remains a solid epic Maiden classic.
Then there are the fillers. “The Mercenary” and “The Fallen Angel” have a lot in common with the average song on No Prayer For The Dying with some hints of 1986-era Smith material and are decent Maiden tunes with some good moments but never becoming true masterpieces because in both cases the chorus should have been stronger. Also on these songs it becomes most obvious the production has its shortcomings. The drums are too damn heavy. This lumberjack sound makes the songs heavy but also makes them feel slower and more dragging.
Now, the Murray-Harris tune “The Thin Line Between Love and Hate” is pretty bad. Even though it has Dickinson singing, it still sounds as if it’s coming straight from Virtual XI. The vocal line is dull and monotone and the song as a whole an annoying dull hardrock tune without balls. “Out of the Silent Planet” has some sweet ideas but is far from memorable.
“Nomad” suffers from the Mother-Russia-disease. The song is based around some ethnic sounding melodies but fails to deliver as a whole. The chorus is pretty weak as well. The remain really bad track is the title track. Now this song has enough ideas and lyrics for a two and a half minute song yet manages to drag on for over six minutes! I haven’t counted the times we hear Dickinson sing the title but it is bloody annoying.
So there you have it. Great to have smith and Dickinson back and great to have some new Maiden classics. But there are too many fillers or really bad tunes here to consider this a classic Maiden album.
Blood Brothers, Ghost Of The Navigator, The Wicker Man, Dream Of Mirrors
The Mercenary, The Fallen Angel, Nomad
Brave New World, Out of the Silent Planet, The Thin Line Between Love and Hate
I was too young to feel the blow to metalheads everywhere that was Bruce Dickinson leaving Iron Maiden in 1993, so I can't fully appreciate the comeback of Dickinson in 2000's “Brave New World”. However, that means I can review this album without bias. And it's a pretty damn good album.
I can see how old-school Maiden fans who grew up with the band can react unfavorably to the “new” Bruce. The vocals are soaring in this album, especially in songs such as “Out Of The Silent Planet” and “Dream Of Mirrors”, among others. Compared to the pre-Blaze, post-Di'anno era of Iron Maiden, the vocals are much more mature, much more “epic”, and much more technical. Every Maiden fan has heard Bruce sing “Aces High” on the “Live After Death” album/video, and I'm sure most of us cringed when we heard how Bruce half-assed it through parts of the song because he just couldn't hit those notes or hold them. That definitely isn't a problem on this album. This is probably the best Bruce's voice has been in any Maiden album, although it definitely took some time to get used to.
The songs themselves are mostly good. The Wicker Man is a great song; it harkens back to old, 80's-era Maiden. After that are a series of slower songs, but these are really where the band shines. “Ghost of the Navigator” and especially “Blood Brothers” are slower, but more epic-sounding than most anything else by Maiden up to that point. This is definitely a slow album (and long) but in the end, it works for the band. The songs “The Mercenary” and “The Wicker Man” are probably the fastest on this album, but once again, it's perfect for the mindset of this album. The only qualm is that “Out of the Silent Planet” really takes too long to get going, and “The Thin Line Between Love And Hate” is wholly forgettable.
As an Iron Maiden album, this is in the top half of albums. As one of the three albums Iron Maiden has made since the return of Bruce, this is probably right in the middle of the other two. It's a good album but it could have been better. But, damn, Bruce Dickinson sounds good here.
I remember being ecstatic at first hearing the news that the Maiden line-up that gave us “Number of the Beast” and all the other great 80s albums associated with the better days of the band was going to reform. I also remember staking out the local CD store in West Chester Pennsylvania in early June during a summer session at college, anxious as hell to get myself a copy of the album that had given true metal its first slot on the Billboard Top 40 list in quite a while. In retrospect, if I had written a review for the album at that time, it would have been loaded with endless fan boy praise and worship loaded with all the complementary metaphors I could throw at the band. Although since that time my love for this album has moderated itself quite a bit, there is still much to be liked on here.
“Brave New World” listens mostly like a continuation of the sound that began to manifest itself on “The X Factor”, although there are some throwbacks to the later 80s material as well. For the most part, the songs tend to be long and loaded with atmosphere. Riffs tend to step aside to make room for melodic hooks, sectional development, and a lot of Bruce Dickinson blasting above the arrangement in a manner befitting of the air-raid siren. The 3 guitar arrangement gives the album a very dense feel, not so much in a heavy sense, but a thickness that is likely more characteristic of 70s progressive rock music.
For the most part, this album works the best when the songs don’t break the 8 minute mark. Shorter, compact fast numbers like “The Wicker Man” and “The Fallen Angel” prove to stick in the memory the easiest, and finally bring back the hit making machine that is Adrian Smith to the fold. His solo offering on “The Wicker Man” is the best lead put to a Maiden song since 1988, relying equally on flash and a developed storytelling approach to soloing. “The Mercenary” has a solid main riff, but lags a tiny bit on the chorus, which is far too repetitive.
As the songs get longer, the influences shift away from the older Maiden to the free form compositional approach that was typical to Maiden’s early 90s material with Bruce, but with a better vocal performance. “The Ghost of the Navigator” and the title track are the most memorable and exciting of the bunch, although “Blood Brothers” doesn’t ride too far behind and sports the most interesting string arrangement heard yet from the band. These songs also make a greater use of the 3 guitar format, utilizing varied accompanying guitar lines to fill out the background while the lead puts forth one of many variants on the classic “Fear of the Dark” oriented melody.
As the songs get even longer it gets difficult to keep of track of where you are. “Out of the Silent Planet” is probably the most unlikely candidate for a single of any song on here, and I would argue that the abridged version used for the music video utterly destroys the song. The intro line sounds very similar to that classic keyboard intro that kicked off “Moonchild”, accompanied by a pair of acoustic guitars. Of all the songs I’ve heard before the “A Matter of Life and Death” album, this is probably the most formally complex thing to every come out of Maiden.
After this the songs get very Virtual XI sounding; and basically go on too long for their own good. Unfortunately, like many of the long numbers on that album, there is usually a ton of repetition and very little development. “The Dream of Mirrors” just takes way too long to finally get going, and when it does, if you’re still listening, it doesn’t quite live up to what is expected for a 5 minute build up. The first half of “The Thin Line between Love and Hate” is pretty solid, but then it just fizzles out at the end. If they cut the last 2 minutes off of this song, it would have been much better. “The Nomad” also loses most of its punch about halfway through, and spends too much time in dreamland during the slow middle section. You can find bits and pieces of excellent ideas throughout it, but there is nothing that really holds it all together enough to make it worth 9 minutes of your time.
All in all, I would still venture to say that this is better than everything that the band offered up during the 1990s, but it’s not quite the unrelenting classic that I had thought it would still listen as when I first heard it. The best parts of this are usually where Adrian Smith is running the show, which is the way I remember it being back in the mid-80s when this band was at its peak. Prospective buyers are encouraged to pick up “Dance of Death” and “A Matter of Life and Death” before getting this one, mostly because they are much more consistent listens. Like with all metal reunions, things often start off slow, but given enough time the old beast re-emerges to reclaim its crown.
This was Iron Maiden's much lauded comeback album from the depths of mediocrity, and it gets a lot of praise for just being a good old Maiden album with Bruce on vocals and the mouth-watering twin leads taking the spotlight. Indeed, Bruce Dickinson had indeed returned to the band, and indeed, these songs are not the Blaze albums or the horrible hard rock abominations that were Bruce's last albums with the band before those, but it's obvious that Brave New World was tragically over-hyped upon its release, as was expected. Simply releasing an album that doesn't blow donkey cock (anything sounds good compared to the awful Fear of the Dark for instance) does not a good album make.
If you're an Iron Maiden fan, you'll most likely find something to enjoy here, as all the elements are in place for a nostalgic time-warp back to the days when Maiden were the kings of the metal genre: We have Bruce's soaring, air-siren wailing belting out some of the catchiest choruses the band has done to date over a cascade of jumpy, rock-solid heavy metal riffs, courtesy of the band's three guitarists (!), Nicko McBrain's skin-pounding fury on the drum kit, and Steve Harris's trademark basslines, which are decidedly low in the mix this time around, puzzlingly enough. The production is clear as day, and musically the band haven't slacked off at all here. However, a lot of these songs seem to be trying to sound like old Maiden songs, but they just don't quite cut it a lot of the time. I mean, really, this isn't a bad album, but it's just too "safe" for Iron Maiden; as if the band was afraid to dive headfirst into the proverbial metal pool.
Instead, Brave New World is pretty much an entire album the band edging nervously around the aforementioned pool, lightly dipping their toes into the water every now and then, but never really taking any chances and jumping in. Come on, "The Mercenary"? The title track? "Blood Brothers"? "The Fallen Angel"? "Out of the Silent Planet"? B-sides at best. Even the energetic, catchy advance single "The Wicker Man" is restrained and doesn't show what the band is capable of. I understand the band was sort of testing the waters with their fan base again after a decade of more negative feedback, but they never really let loose here like they should. Iron Maiden was a band with boundless enthusiasm, and it showed in their heyday, with vibrant, speedy cookers like "Aces High" and "Flight of Icarus." They were never the best band ever, but what they were was consistent, and also passionate. This album is neither of those things, sad to say, just a sort of "we're baaaaaack!" album, for the sake of being back, and nothing else.
Fortunately, the band clearly hasn't really lost it, as there is a slight progression in evidence here. There are three songs above the 8 minute mark on display here, and while "The Nomad" drags a bit (still a fine song), "Dream of Mirrors" is a fantastic song; 9 minutes of pure heavy metal class and style, the way only Maiden can do it, leaping head first into the proverbial metal pool and making a splash. Shifting from an acoustic crooner to a mature, rocking headbanger, it doesn't fail to please, with some pretty damn cool lyrics to boot. "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate" is somewhat along the same lines, with the odd attribute of being the only song Maiden's ever done with backing vocals on the verses instead of the chorus, which is sung solely by Bruce. It's not Maiden at the top of their game, but it is a cool song, and it closes the album with style and class. However, the real gem here is a 6 minute exercise in pure metallic bliss, titled "Ghost of the Navigator"; a brilliant, riffy tune that's probably the best song the band has done in 15 or 20 years now, since the Seventh Son era. Bold words, but it's not that hard to agree, considering the magnitude of everything they've released since. The song is reminiscent of a condensed version of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", boasting a catchy chorus and a commendable set of riffs, alongside lyrics that will beckon you to the old sea with a ghostly, welcoming hand. Magnificent.
There is good stuff here, but this isn't the best Maiden can do, and it's actually very disappointing when you look at the bigger picture. The title track is the only real dud here, as every other song is at least listenable and fun, and overall this isn't bad in the least - it's just a legendary band going through the motions; Iron Maiden at 75% of their power. It's respectable that they can still pump out an album like this after 25 years of existence (most bands don't), but it's safe to say that this isn't an album that will be in constant rotation even by Maiden die hards after the shock wears off.
After the departure of the often criticized Blaze Bailey, British metal band Iron Maiden shocked the world when they announced that both Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith would be returning to the band. However, the band promised that Adrian Smith's replacement from the 1990, Janick Gers, would not leave the fold. For the first time, Iron Maiden would become a sextet, which opened new songwriting possibilities for the band. Iron Maiden immediately set out on the Ed Hunter tour to support their new compilation album and computer game.
After the three month tour, one which they were supported by once huge thrash band Megadeth, Iron Maiden went into writing mode for their highly anticipated reunion album Brave New World. The album was released to on May 30, 2000. Even though both Bruce and Adrian were absent for the greater part of the past decade, they both participated in the writing process, and in the end, both Adrian and Bruce had multiple writing credits on their names.
With Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson returning, Iron Maiden released what was possibly their best album since 1988's Seventh Son of Seventh Son. Brave New World continues the trends set forth by The X Factor and Virtual XI. With longer songs such as Dream of Mirrors, The Nomad, and The Thin Line Between Love And Hate, Iron Maiden shows off some of their Blaze era influences. However, the band also crafted shorter songs, more reminiscent to 80's era Maiden in tracks such as The Wicker Man, The Mercenary, and The Fallen Angel. Anybody who enjoyed Iron Maiden albums, whether from the 80's or 90's should be able to find something they like in Brave New World.
Brave New World sounds like what you would expect an Iron Maiden album to sound like. Great harmonies and melodic riffs can be found all over the album, as they always have, and unless Steve Harris loses it, always will. Bruce sounds like he never left the band, only it's 1988 and not 1992. As with his solo material, Dickinson ditched his painfully bad raspy vocal style and returned to the operatic vocal style found on earlier Maiden records. Several songs such as Ghost of the Navigator, Brave New World, and Blood Brothers start off quiet, much like many of the songs found on The X Factor. The album's nine and a half minute epic, Dream of Mirrors, also contains several softer moments. The slower paced, soft intros help set an epic atmosphere before the band kicks the song into overdrive. The tracks that are void of the long, clean sections make up for it with pure energy. Iron Maiden still manage to play like they're 25 instead of 45 on this release. Rockers such as The Mercenary, The Fallen Angel, and The Wicker Man get the adrenaline flowing just as well as any 80's era Maiden track. Perhaps Brave New World's best song is the other nine minute track, The Nomad. Seemingly inspired by past greats such as Powerslave and To Tame a Land, The Nomad combines the best of Brave New World's characteristics; excellent riffs, relaxing mellow sections, and exciting solos into what one day might be regarded as a classic Iron Maiden epic.
Despite looking old and tired in the album's linear notes, the band's fire has seemingly been re-lit on this album. After a great, though at times dull Virtual XI, an album that sounds uninspired, the mood of Brave New World gives off is that of a motivated Iron Maiden. An Iron Maiden that hasn't been seen since the days of Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Brave New World is definitely the easiest album to get into since the band's glory days. The album is also the most enjoyable to listen to. Unlike in the albums of the 90's, there isn't a moment that feels forced. Whether this is due to new producer Kevin Shirley, the return of Bruce and Adrian, or just a more focused effort, Iron Maiden does an excellent job living up to the hype that built up before the album's release.
Brave New World was Iron Maiden's 12th studio album. To date it is one of the band's top albums; along side the likes of Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, and A Matter of Life and Death. The reunited band does an excellent job combining the elements of their earlier albums into nearly 70 minutes of music. If anyone still does not own the album, they should definitely pick it up when they get the chance.
It’s almost astonishing how much life Bruce Dickinson brings to Iron Maiden. The two albums recorded in his absence were unbelievably devoid of energy. There was no feeling and no intensity to the music, just uninteresting, drawn-out recordings. Jump forward a few years to the release of Brave New World and the triumphant return of both Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith. What we get is not the greatest album of all time, but an impressive release nonetheless. The sound is a little different, but it’s still distinguishably Iron Maiden in its purest form. Just make sure to give it more than one listen before you judge it.
Brave New World is perhaps the artsiest Maiden release yet. Most of the songs are longer than typical, with a lot of lush synth textures mingling with the guitar work, especially in the mellower sections. It’s somewhat progressive in that sense, similar to the way Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son are presented. Unlike those albums, Brave New World has no stand-out tracks, which is its only notable flaw. There are no songs as magnificent as “Infinite Dreams” nor are there any on the level of classics like “The Clairvoyant,” “Wasted Years,” or “Alexander the Great.” However, that doesn’t mean that the album is weak in any sense. Every song is incredibly well-written and polished. There is no filler; every song lets you hear that there was an incredible amount of effort put into composing and recording it. The general level of consistency and quality is a lot higher than most of the band’s other releases. Whether the song is a straight-forward rocker like “The Wicker Man” and “The Mercenary” or a more diverse epic like “Dream of Mirrors” and “The Nomad,” the album just kicks incredible ass. The songwriting has progressed way beyond the band’s heavier albums, but there is still a fair amount of pure metal riffing integrated. It’s not the album you’d generally listen to for casual head banging since its more of a ‘progressive’ experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s not heavy in its own right.
As noted before, Bruce Dickinson returns on this album and his presence is most welcome. His voice hasn’t sounded this good since Seventh Son. The vocal melodies are absolutely amazing and the production allows his vocals to be delivered articulately, another plus for this album. Even the lyrics are really good, though that’s not much of a surprise on most Maiden albums. Adrian Smith’s return is also welcome, considering that he’s twice the player that Janick Gers is. But Janick has stayed on, even with Adrian’s return, making it the largest Iron Maiden ensemble to date. Three lead guitarists may seem like overkill, but it allows for a more complete live performance. Iron Maiden is not the kind of band to waste three guitarists by writing parts with only one or two in mind. Besides, the Eagles did it years beforehand and made it work.
One of the best things about Iron Maiden is listening to the guitarists progress between albums. From the band’s first release all the way up the this one, you can hear the solos getting better and better, rather than more repetitive and formulaic. The guitar tone on this album is stellar, probably the best yet, allowing it to meld beautifully with the synth layers. It’s a really polished album, but doesn’t sound overproduced. Another thing easy to notice are the drums. I’ve never really presented Maiden’s drum work as one the band’s outstanding aspects, but the drums sound really good on here. The drumming itself is quite intricate, even incorporating double bass pedal, while the mix is almost perfect. All the volumes and sound are ideal and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Great production on this album, especially since they managed to keep Steve Harris’ bass in check.
I really can’t find fault in this album, except that I wouldn’t put any of its songs on a Maiden greatest hits. The album on a whole is outstanding, a natural progression of one of metal’s most respected groups. It’s powerful, heavy at times, mellow at others, and it’s one of the band’s most melodic and overall well-written releases. It takes a little time to get into, but once you do, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience.
I don’t know why lots of people have been getting up recently proclaiming this to be ‘nothing like Maiden’ and a ‘really really bad album’. I don’t understand this ‘I hate the legends so I’m cool’ stance lots of people have taken up. This album sounds very much like a bridge between the X factor era and 7th Son Maiden. Bruce too has returned and thus the vocal performance here is much better than the previous effort. Although he isn’t quite his prime, Bruce still manages to get the job done – and excellently at that. The production is just about perfect with everything retaining its place perfectly. Nicko’s drumming too has shown great signs of improvement, I tell you - this guy gets better as he ages. Steve’s chunking bass can be heard clearly and still maintains solidity. The riffing here isn’t the dark X Factor-style riffing (although check out ‘The Fallen Angel’ and ‘Out Of the Silent Planet’ for moments of this) but a more traditional Maiden style gallop. The song’s aren’t at al built on weak riffs like every detractor mentions. They have three guitarists now, although the material here still remains only for two. It is still murky why they keep Gers hanging around – he obviously isn’t half as good as either of his co-guitarists.
‘The Wicker Man’ starts off the album with an improvised ‘Running Wild’ (Judas Priest) riff. The song is upbeat speeder with a great chorus and ‘oh-oh- singalong section. ‘Ghost Of The Navigator’ starts off with beautiful, dream-like strumming before beginning with the ‘I Don’t Know’ (Ozzy Osbourne) riff. The song isn’t as good as everyone proclaims it to be, but is still excellent with that bridge at 5:03 being especially distinctive in that it manages to sound just as if a boat were sinking in a raging sea – it shows Maiden’s ability to conjure images of said lyrics in the listeners mental spectrum using only music. ‘Brave New World’ is a half ballad and once again starts with beautiful strumming. The song is another highlight as it is tinged with atmosphere and emotion and also has a sing-along chorus and pre-chorus and a great solo section. ‘Blood Brothers’ is surely one of the albums best tracks. The thing just oozes atmosphere and inspiration. The keyboards and guitar both are used excellently to develop the song as Bruce’s excellent vocals and the melodies add to the tensing of the atmosphere before the mesmerizing chorus. The effect truly is stunning and especially works live. The keyboard segments on the song are absolutely fantastic and contribute excellently to it. ‘The Mercenary’ though is a low-point. Bruce sounds vicious here delivering the verses and the chorus with power and inspiration. But unfortunately the chorus and pre-chorus are absolutely grating and especially so when repeated again and again and again. Slap all this on a standard Maiden track and what we have here is a track totally not up to Maiden’s standards. ‘Dream Of Mirrors’ is a nice, epic song with great, fluid tempo changes. Bruce sounds really great here perfectly bringing forth the underlying desperation in the song, although not quite as well as say ‘The Clairvoyant’. There’s a heck-lot to sing-along to here which especially makes it work live – ‘the dream is true…’, ‘I only dream in black and white’ and that excellent ‘oh-oh’ section in the near end. The song moves from slow in the beginning to absolutely frantic in the end with excellent, pump-like drumming from Nicko. ‘The Fallen Angel’ is a nice, small slab of The X Factor. The riffing here sounds very X and so do the chorus and the pre-chorus.
Now is when the album starts getting really good. Up till now, the album has been just ‘good’ and would have earned a 70+ score but the last three epics cranked up the score quite a lot. These three songs are the best on the album. ‘The Nomad’ is a brilliant pseudo-Egyptian epic with an awesome mid-section. ‘Out Of the Silent Planet’ is incredibly haunting with mesmerizing melodies and gets really damn fast as it ends in contrast to the milder start. This and the closer both are neck-to-neck for the best song on the album. ‘The Thin Line between Love and Hate’ is an awesome way to end the album. It has a strange vocal approach and a queer chorus (at least it seems so to me) all of which work in unexpectedly excellent ways. Also, there’s some absolutely gorgeous soloing here. The song in contrast to its predecessor starts off mid-paced and gets slower as it goes. The melody in the slow section is taken from Heathen’s ‘Prisoner of Fate’; here it is highlighted whereas there it passed off in a mere 3 seconds. The song though, ends rather abruptly – one can immediately notice this. But heh, if one hears rather closely – he can hear the Nicko lamenting and the band laughing over him missing a cymbal, perhaps that’s why.
All in all, this album is above 70 minutes in length – and still manages to be entertaining. This is quite a feat, and to think Maiden have done it a total of 4 times (The X Factor, A Matter Of Life And Death, Brave New World, Dance Of Death) already! This is truly what puts Maiden at the top of all bands including legends like Priest and Sabbath. Their music is more well-thought out which can clearly be seen in the lyrics – the lyrics are based mainly on history or literature unlike the other great bands out there who write on anarchism, sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll. Their style has remained similar throughout their career with significant and miniscule variations made without losing the path they originally took unlike the thousands of other bands out there. Looking at Maiden’s career and winning formula establishes perfectly the difference between the legendary bands (Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple) and the king of them all – Maiden who have kept their material fresh and have soldiered on to be a relevant band even in this decade.
So, it's been fifteen years since your band formed, and two crucial members of your lineup have returned? What is a band to do? Well, Iron Maiden decided to release this monster, almost as if to say "We're still around, and we're not going away". From the opening riff to "The Wicker Man" (even if it is ripped off) to the closing notes of "The Thin Line Between Love And Hate", this album screams excellence. Granted, it took a few listens to some of the slower tunes to really get a feel for them, and the repetitive choruses can be a little irratating, but on the whole, it's a worthy release that's found itself a comfortable home in my player.
The whole band goes all in one this one. Bruce's vocals seem to actually get stronger as he ages, and he nails everything this album demands of it. Maiden now features three guitarists, as they did not drop Janick Gers or Dave Murray when Adrain Smith returned. Each have their own playng style, and they bring their own touch to the album. This is particularly true of the incredible solos found on every song. As usual, Nicko McBrian's drumwork is top notch, and it provides a powerful backing to the music. Steve Harris throws some strong bass lines at us, and although they often lack the gusto that he showed on earlier Maiden release, it's still a dominant force throughout the album. He also handles the keyboard work.
The album opens with the Wicker Man, and like most Maiden openers, starts off the album perfectly. Featuring some excellent guitar work, it really sets the tone for the album. However, almost as if a sign of things to come, it has that infamous repetitive chorus that the post-Blaze Maiden has featured on far too many songs.
"The Ghost Of The Navigator" is one of those songs that you immediatly know is going to be a live classic. It builds up from the intro inro a great riff. Bruce nails this one vocally, and does this really cool sounding thing in the prechorus where it sounds like he's dragging his voice. The chorus itself is fantastic, almost defying you to not sing along with it. The solo, as per usual, is awesome, and a nice little riff section ties it back to the chorus. All in all, a very strong song.
The title track slows things down a little bit, but it's still a great song. The song gathers speed as it goes along, gradually drawing you into it. This is one of those songs that take a few listens to truly enjoy, and you'll probably skip it until you really listen to it. However, once you really get into it, it becomes one of the strongest songs on the album. Bruces vocals are nothing short of impressive, and the lyrics are excellent. The solo section, as usual, borderlines on overkill, and is immediatly followed by a ringing guitar riff that really brings it together. The chorus repeats, and the song shortly reverts to the slow verse that opened it.
Next comes "Blood Brothers", another slow song. A melodic riff and lead that is typical to new Maiden carry us through the intro and the verse, which leads into yet another repetitive chorus. Harris' bass is very strong during the chorus, but retreats into the background for much of the song. The first solo is short, but after some meandering and build up, the song culminates in a great second solo. However, one solo isn't enough to redeem the song, and overall, it seems like Brave New World if it never picked up.
Finally, Bruce and the boys decide to kick us in the ass. "The Mercenary" is a balls-out return to the classic Maiden mix of speed and heaviness that hasn't been seen since "Futureal". However, the song suffers from, what else, a repetitive chorus. However, a killer solo section will make you willing to forget all about it, and in the end, the song delivers what it set out to do.
"Dream Of Mirrors" has always been a bit of a toss-up for me. Again, it starts out slow, gathering speed as it progresses. It just takes longer this time. The lyrics seem familiar, probably because they released a little song called 'Fear of the Dark' eight years prior, and with yet another painfully repetitive chorus, I find it hard to want to listen to it. However, when it finally does get up to speed, it's a worthy tune. I think the biggest problem with this song is that it's needlessly long. At over nine minutes, I've often found myself wondering if they really needed to repeat the chorus so many times, or wishing that they'd shaved a minute or two off it. But, as the song nears the six minute mark, the song kicks into gear and makes it all worthwhile. In the end, I find this song to be best when you listen to it only on occasion.
After "Dream Of Mirrors" you're probably wondering when the album will kick into overdrive again, right? Well, you won't have to wait long. "The Fallen Angel" is here to kick you in the teeth and ask if you want more. It starts off with a totally badass riff that lets you know what this track is all about, and doesn't let up until it ends. It even features a chorus with more than one line! The solo is one of the best on the album, and towards the end of it, there's some wicked guitar work where the music gives you imagery. It's tough to describe in words, but you'll probably understand what I mean when you hear it. The solo leads back into the chorus, and at the end, Bruce holds the note in that special way that he does so well. Through and through, this song just oozes the good stuff.
Ah, "The Nomad". Where would this album be without you? It opens up with a great little insrumental section that lasts just over a minute and features a killer lead riff just before the vocals kick in. The song features two (!) choruses that aren't repetitive. The first one is great, but the second one's lyrics kind of pissed me off. More specifically, the last line "No man's, ever understood your genius". It just doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the song, and seems a little over the top. However, to redeem it, the first appearance of the second chorus is followed by an immaculate solo section where Adrian and the boys really lay it on you with that desert feel the song is just dripping in. After another verse and chorus, the song drops off into a great melodic lead with keyboards. The song goes back to the verse and chorus, and comes to a close.
Now for the really good stuff. "Out Of The Silent Planet" is an absolutely amazing track that really gives you a feel for what Maiden can throw at you. The lyrics are some of the best on the album, and Bruce puts some real oomph into the vocals. More than anything, this song feels like the band has reached their apex, where all cylinders are firing and gives off that spjne-chilling feel of excellent that songs like Hallowed Be Thy Name threw at you. Of course, the soloing is top notch, drives the song forward. All in all, the song is near perfect. I'm even willing to look past the repetitive chorus.
The album comes to a close with "The Thin Line Between Love And Hate". The lyrics are strange, and seem like they were written in high school. the whole song doesn't seem very Maiden-like. That is, until you hit one of the solos scattered throughout the first part. There are a few, and they scream Iron Maiden goodness. However, the song's climax is towards the end, when it kicks into a smart little instrumental section with an incredibly soulful solo. It leads into a wicked lead riff, another great solo, and the riff again. The song slows down again, and comes to a close. The last three minutes of this song are some of the most intelligent I've ever heard from Iron Maiden before, and when it's all over, you want nothing more than to hit play again and listen to the whole thing over again.
Overall, I found the album to be fairly accessible on the first couple listens, and it became deeper and deeper on subsequent play-throughs. Depsite the repetitive choruses, this album is very strong, and heralds in the post-Blaze era of Iron Maiden. Keep it coming, guys.
Iron Maiden reunites with Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson, and release an album with the coolest artwork in years- it has to be a masterpiece.
Unfortunately, it isn't. Brave New World is the biggest disappointment in quite a few years, and definitely one of my least favourite Maiden albums.
The sound and production is very solid- the guitar tone is killer and the bass is just loud enough. The snare drum sounds a bit flat, but otherwise it's all great.
The band members are also pretty good. Bruce's voice works well, even though his performance is not close to the classic stuff, the triple guitars are excellently played, although I'm quite sure they could do alot more with three guitars than what they have. Nicko's performance on the drums is one of his best ever, in fact, delivering catchy and memorable beats as a solid base, his right foot working the pedal frenetically and for once doesn't overuse neither the hi hat nor the ride.
So why the low rating, you ask? Well, it's as simple as this: The songwriting is, for the most part, horrible.
Brave New World was supposed to show a more "mature" Maiden. But what we really have here, is an album with a few supposedly classic Maiden-styled fast paced numbers that feel uninspired and watered out, and then a bunch of overlong, overemotional, failed attempts of epic masterpieces.
One of the most annoying factors with the album is the unbelievable amount of repetition. To mention just a few examples... The chorus of opening track The Wicker Man is simply "Your time will come" repeated a bunch of times. The title track's chorus is "A brave new world in a brave new world", also repeated a couple of times. Blood Brothers: "We're blood brothers" x4. But the worst case of repetition is found in The Mercenary, I believe. The pre-chorus is "Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, you've got to kill to stay alive" repeated twice. And the chorus is "Show them no fear, show them no pain" repeated four times. All this repetition gets thoroughly annoying, and it makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking.
There are, though, a few high points of the album. The Wicker Man isn't really a bad tune, the chorus is quite powerful despite the repetition, and features some really cool singalong moments. The riffage is pretty solid as well, even though the main riff is stolen from the Priest track Running Wild.
Ghost of the Navigator is also alright, actually, with some very powerful guitar and vocal melodies.
Dream of Mirrors is a very nice epic. The melodies and time changes actually work without sounding overly emotional, overly epic, or overly anything. It also has several killer singalong moments, most notably the (repetitive but still good) "the dream is true" part. The song, (heck, the entire album) works much better live, as it gains a whole lot from the crowd participation. But the studio version is very good too.
We also have Out Of The Silent Planet. It's just a solid, straightforward and catchy number with a very memorable chorus and excellent soloing (Maiden's soloing never disappoints, ever! That much you can rely on). And it was also, believe it or not, the first Iron Maiden song I heard.
Finally, The Nomad is a very solid epic, and the only one that really manages to capture some sort of epic atmosphere. The heavy beginning, the powerful chorus and the mesmerizing instrumental section help to make this my favourite song off the album.
So really, the album consists of five songs ranging from decent to great, and five pretty much worthless songs. Blood Brothers, The Thin Line Between Love And Hate and especially the title track are all incredibly boring. The Fallen Angel goes on at an efficient pace, and despite some nice, dark riffage and a solid (and in fact not repetitive) chorus, it just falls short, and The Mercenary is just plain boring.
Iron Maiden will never return to their glorious form of the 80's, but there is some nice stuff found in here. Half of the songs are pretty damn solid, but the rest is incredibly weak. It could've been better, but unfortunately, it isn't. The fast rockers are not as catchy and in-your-face as they used to be, and the epics fails to capture any actual epic atmosphere. A crushing disappointment, indeed.