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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.