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Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark - 70%

ConorFynes, December 9th, 2011

Despite having one of the band's best-known crowd favourites, Iron Maiden's 'Fear Of The Dark' is a somewhat less successful album for the legends, at least critically speaking. My first experience with the band, the album may have more of a personal significance to me, and while proving to be one of the band's less consistent works, there is some great music here from the band. While not as good as the true classic material of the band, 'Fear Of The Dark' is an at-times wonderful collection of tracks from one of metal's most enduring acts.

'Be Quick Or Be Dead' kicks off the album in a fairly classic Maiden fashion; a fast pace, galloping rhythm, and Bruce Dickinson's howl makes this track one that I would not have been surprised to see one of the earlier records. 'From Here To Eternity' also somewhat follows this formula. Truth be told though, Iron Maiden does take the rest of the album down a somewhat different lane. While it's certainly nothing alien to what Iron Maiden had already been doing, the music is perhaps a little more conservative in terms of speed, with many of these tracks veering towards Judas Priest's 'older' sound. Cutting straight to the point; this is done very well at times, but some songs fall off the wagon, and this may be why some fans of the band do not regard this album as highly. 'The Fugitive' and 'Judas Be My Guide' are two more straightforward tracks that really rock. While the intensity is toned down a bit, the riffs are in much the same style that Maiden had done before. Despite the subdued angle, there is still the care taken to the dual guitar harmonies. Weekend Warrior' is the only miss of a track here, with fairly uninspired guitars and facepalm-inducing lyrics. Here, Iron Maiden virtually declaws their music, and despite being released in '92, 'Weekend Warrior' sounds like it would have been some arena rock track from the heyday of the '80s. One bad apple aside, I don't think it hurts the rest of the songs.

Bruce Dickinson's voice is a point of contention for some, especially seeing as he would leave the band for the next two albums after this. Although some of the melodies are not so inspired or memorable, his voice was still in top shape, although he does not quite sound like himself here. At times, he sounds like Rob Halford- a good thing- and at others, he ad-libs away in the style of Axl Rose- a decidedly bad thing. 'Fear Of The Dark' certainly has some weaknesses to contend with, but the album's two most involving songs take it from being merely decent, to a very good album. Those two are the famed title track, and the lesser-known 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers'. The first of these evokes a maddening response from the crowd whenever its played live, and for good reason. It begins with a classic riff, then takes a breath as it gently builds into the most intense passage of the album. 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers' proceeds in much the same manner, with perhaps a more progressive direction. With these two songs alone, 'Fear Of The Dark' is more than worth a listen to a fan of the band.

Iron Maiden have gone through many phases, and 'Fear Of The Dark' falls on the brink of a rough transition for the band. All the same, there are many good songs, and even some gold to hear with this one. A painfully underrated album.