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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.