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Whatever happened to the Iron Maiden of old? I'm a long time Maiden fan, with years and years of enjoying and enduring the band's accomplishments/flaws. However, this was the pinnacle breaking point that I (agonizingly) do not follow Maiden as loyally as I had back then. I first got this single online when the Maiden website offered a free itunes track as a prequel to the new album.
The song bursts with something like a "Grand finale," something that most bands play at the end of a live show or song. That may have been acceptable, but at this specific circumstance, it seemed rather cheesy and cliche. When Harris plays that familiar galloping rhythm, the one we ALWAYS seem to hear nowadays, the flavor gets bland easily. Taking a glance at the lyrics did not help, since everyone has been babbling about "It's a guitar and lyrics album!" If it is a lyrics album, it is really mediocre to say, then. The lyrics have lost their poignancy and feeling, sounding like a cheesy fifth grader trying to write about viking metal. Bruce's vocals added further insult to injury, since "Going to tell you a story" immediately made me cringe with embarrassment. Why embarrassment? Because his voice, along with the terrible words of the song, just made me feel ASHAMED to be a Maiden fan! It made a recipe for a musical flop! The solo failed to impress me, and the rest of the song made me cry with shame.
I am deeply disappointed with Maiden today. I used to review Maiden albums with such happiness and enthusiasm, but this just destroyed my hope. Many people give the new album stupid, juvenile scores like "100%, best album EVER!" just because it is Maiden. I love Maiden, hell yeah, perhaps more than you ever would, but when you review, you have to understand that you must get into the inner core and understand and contemplate the faults. Maiden had lost its traditional touch and delved too deep (unfortunately) in prog territory.
This summer has seen the finalization of Iron Maiden’s fifteenth studio album, as well as the worldwide tour which came with it. The first sign of this album’s content came over two months before its release with the presentation of its first single, El Dorado, in a simple one-song format, which seems to have become the staple of many single releases for these past few years.
El Dorado is a pretty strange song in that, upon first listen, back in June, it was rather disappointing. It felt like it lacked that Iron Maiden feeling and gave off a very tired overall impression, without any of the catchiness and fun of the previous decade’s singles, such as The Wicker Man and Rainmaker, without even mentioning the brilliant 80s singles which largely made them famous. Then something strange happened. I’ve had the occasion to hear the song over a longer period of time, both the studio version and the live version. Twice. This has led me to a simple conclusion: this is a track destined first and foremost for the band’s live performances, and this realization has actually allowed me to enjoy it immensely more than before in all forms. In fact, it can safely be said that it beats anything released since the Brave New World singles, even if not necessarily by a very wide margin.
El Dorado is something of an acquired taste. Further listens will instill the lyrics in one’s mind, and from then on out it’s extremely enjoyable as a song along track, replacing that initial catchiness that was conspicuously absent upon first listen. It also seems to base itself a lot not on being an easy to like rocker but a more complex one, starting with a minute of instrumentals, including the first few seconds which sound exactly like the type of stuff a band plays when they end a concert. This in itself renders the song less accessible than pretty much all of their other singles. But even when the vocals kick in, El Dorado keeps on this very aggressive, very traditional guitar-based heavy metal path, compromising absolutely nothing for more catchiness. The riffs are intent on being almost crushing in nature, not necessarily memorable. However, this is a nice change from their usual material and the work here is flawless by the triad of guitarists. Even the bass is quite prominent, with a few sections where only it is heard. There are also considerable pace variations during the whole number, with a preference for slowness during the verses and some slightly faster choruses. Drumming is fairly standard if proficient and technical; it simply fits in with the rest of the music without being anything of exception (the bright side is that it’s not too loud, as often happens with modern metal releases).
Bruce’s vocal performance here is quite impressive. He doesn’t sound tired at all, possessing pretty much all the range and talent that he’s always had since the beginning of his career with the band. His work fits in perfectly with the considerably less catchy and commercial nature of this track, except during that chorus which is pretty hard to forget after a certain number of listens.
El Dorado is, in the end, an impressive representation of the similarly good The Final Frontier, and a good choice for a single. Curiously, the song sounds a lot more aggressive and powerful live than it does in its studio version. Either way, this, their best single in about a decade, proves that the band are in no way tired nor are they running out of ideas anytime soon; they’re still going strong with their post-2000 streak of solid material.
Coming form a very succesful Somewhere Back In Time world tour, the Maiden machine hit back the road with the announcement of a new album. The world was kept in constant touch about the developent of the record and according to descriptions, it was to be one of the best thing they had done in a while. The time soon came when Maiden announced the new single El Dorado was to be released. The whole world waited with huge expectations to catch the single.
The new Maiden single is typically like the previous Maiden singles, short, catchy, galloping, simple and to the point. But this one lacks the ferocity of Aces High, the darkness of Be Quick or Be Dead, the melodies of Infinite Dreams, or the chorus of the Trooper. In short Maiden, in this song tried hard to create the earlier effect which made their singles enjoyable, but failed to add intresting portions in it. The single sounds dated and nothing is surprising or adventurous. The vocals aren’t that inspiring. Dickinson sounds tired. Repetetive and poor quality choruses have been plaging Maiden albums since The X Factor, and here the problem emerges again. The chorus is pretty weak and dated especially considering who wrote it.
In spite of all these defects, gentlemen, this is Maiden doing what they do best. ‘Arry is still at his galloping best. The triple guitar unit of Murray-Smith-Gers are in fine shape and the guitar work in this song is quite good. The lead work is what you would expect from Maiden, superb as usual. The drum work, well its Nicko McBrain on the drums with his single bass drum, so you can’t expect any flaws. Yes, the drum work is really superb.
Concluding we can say that this is just OK. These type of songs are something we listen from Maiden every time. Something adventurous could have been like a breath of fresh air here. This is neither epic nor something aggressive or something complex. This is simple, straight forward which is fun at the first listen or two but then slowly gets dated. The problem of weak chorus complicates the matter further. The lyrics aren’t inspiring either and are just random. Nothing here just stands out to scream “AAAH, TELL ME WHY I HAVE TO BE A POWERSLAVE!!!”.
When Iron Maiden placed a countdown timer on their website, fans all over the world got excited. Was this going to be an announcement of tour dates? Or perhaps announcement of the release date of the upcoming album? But what was at the end of the countdown was far more than what most fans would have expected: the announcement of the new album art, album tracklisting, the first single, and *gasp* an mp3 download of this new single: El Dorado.
Eddy has once again transformed, this time as an alien. Maiden has taken a bold step on the cover art of the single, with a comic book style concept and calling El Dorado the "incredible sci-fi stories from The Final Frontier". How then would this new song from Maiden fare?
Fan reactions varied, with one extreme proclaiming this to be Maiden's best work yet in their career spanning 30 odd years, whille others criticising this as one of their worst works ever. There are also the in-between, sitting-on-the-fence fans, who say that it's not a bad song and it grows quickly on the listener.
The song starts off with a somewhat Wasted Years-inspired guitar introduction which breaks into a very melodic riff, reminiscent of Edguy's latest works - somewhat uncharted territory in Maiden's earlier works but can be progressively seen in their newer stuff. The instrument section remains clearly strong, with Steve Harris' signature galloping riffs on his bass and the harmonising axe-wielding trio. Halfway through the song, a solo featuring each individual guitarist was included, allowing them to show off their skills and influences.
As could be clearly heard from the song, age definitely took its toll on Bruce Dickinson. On first listen, I have to admit that my reaction was somewhat similar to those of the negative extreme, mainly due to Bruce's vocals. Unlike their previous works, El Dorado is void of Bruce Dickinson's famous soaring and wailing vocal parts, which was quite a bummer for me. Another gripe is also how low Bruce's vocals had been mixed, not doing his full potential justice, at times even making him sound unmotivated.
While this song is not a ground-breaker, it does not mean that El Dorado is not a good song. To be really honest I got put off for the first listen (and ONLY the first listen) but like songs on Maiden's previous album, A Matter of Life and Death, it slowly started to grow on me, with new discoveries with every listen. Also, unlike AMoLaD, where there was a dark overtone throughout the album (with the exception of opening track Different World), El Dorado has a lighter tone, which hopefully is an introduction to the good things to come.
Up the fuckin' irons! \m/
Originally written for Heavy Metal Tribune (http://heavymetaltribune.blogspot.com/)