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For the Newcomer and Completist Alike... - 90%

reclusiam, August 27th, 2011

This two-disc set from the most respected and influential band in the history of metal compiles the "best" tracks from the band's post-"Seventh Son" material. "From Fear to Eternity" appears to be a companion collection to "Somewhere Back in Time", yet the band is covering two decades here instead of one. And admittedly, if you are a consummate Maiden fan, there is a lot of bang for your buck on this compilation.

Most will agree that the band's best work can be found on their first seven albums. This is a view that I share. But to dismiss everything that came after would be sheer folly, as Iron Maiden continued to produce quality songs after the departure of Adrian Smith and the inclusion of Janick Gers on 1990's "No Prayer for the Dying." Does every album they recorded since "Seventh Son" fire on all cylinders? No. But what Iron Maiden has accomplished with this "Best of" collection is a careful and thoughtful selection of the best material culled from two decades worth of releases.

The band managed to avoid some of the more embarrassing moments from the two albums following Smith's departure, although I would have preferred a more solid track selection from "No Prayer...". For example, "Fates Warning" and the title track would have been better additions than "Tailgunner and "Holy Smoke." The listener will also notice that the band picked the best track from their latest endeavor "The Final Frontier", which was a weak offering compared to it's 2006 predecessor. This song is "Coming Home," which actually has more of a "Chemical Wedding"-era solo Bruce Dickinson vibe about it than the rest of the material here. This is by no means a bad thing.

A close friend of mine lamented the fact that the Blaze Bayley-era material included here is all live, with Bruce on vocals. Well, this doesn't disappoint me terribly, as it adds some new live material which makes this collection more worthwhile. All of the best material from the Dickinson/Smith Reunion album ("Brave New World") and the two following releases are here in full force. The cost of this 2-CD set is no more than that of a single disc, and with the collection comes a deluxe booklet with cover art by Melvyn Grant (though I wish Derek Riggs was still producing art for Maiden's releases).

OK. Is this an essential Iron Maiden "extra"? No. The only essential non-studio release for this band is "Live After Death." This is basically a good pair of mix CDs for a long drive, so you don't have to haul a ton of CDs with you. All of the best stuff post 1990 (minus a few selections) is here in a neat little package. This would be an excellent starting point for newcomers to the band, and it is also something for the Iron Maiden completist. Am I glad I bought it? Absolutely.

Standout Tracks: These Colours Don't Run, Afraid to Shoot Strangers, The Clansman (Live), Coming Home, The Wicker Man, Paschendale, Different World, Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, Blood Brothers, Rainmaker, Fear of the Dark

Tracks that could have been omitted: Holy Smoke, El Dorado, Tailgunner, When the Wild Wind Blows

Tracks that should have been included: Fates Warning, No Prayer for the Dying, Childhood's End, Dream of Mirrors, Fortunes of War, Judgment of Heaven

Recommended for fans of: Metal in general. If you're not a Maiden fan, you should be. Up the Irons!