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After last year's album that further marks Iron Maiden's foray into progressive and softer territories, the band releases the sequel to the 2008 Somewhere Back in Time compilation, From Fear to Eternity, sequencing and cataloguing the last 20 years of their career. This compilation incidentally also is the first compilation that marks guitarist Janick Gers' first contribution to Maiden up till now.
Unlike previous compilation releases before this, From Fear to Eternity features a marked lack of "classic" songs since it only contains tracks from 1990 onwards, which many fans consider the downward path of the band's career. There is a good mix of tracks from the band's No Prayer for the Dying album all the way to last year's The Final Frontier, and fans of the band's earlier works could find this compilation a difficult pill to swallow, especially with the heavy presence of songs from the Brave New World album onwards, which sees the band heading towards longer and slower (and somewhat emotional) songwriting styles. The introduction of guitarist Janick Gers is prominent, especially on tracks taken off the No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark albums, with the departure of guitarist Adrian Smith seeing him taking over most of the lead guitar duties.The triple guitar attack after the return of Adrian Smith on tracks taken off the later albums definitely displays a marked increase in energy and versatility of the band's musical approach and is certainly refreshing for long-time Maiden fans.
One other thing that one instantly notices is that even though the compilation catalogues Maiden's journey between 1990 and 2010, there isn't a single track featuring Maiden's ex-vocalist, Blaze Bayley present on the release at all. Tracks included on the release that are from the albums Virtual XI and The X Factor are instead live renditions with current frontman Bruce Dickinson on vocals, but I am not complaining either as he manages to bring these songs to live with his sheer energy and vocal range.
While the arrangements of the tracks on this release are mostly alright, with songs alternating between albums ensuring that all albums between 1990 and 2010 are covered in the utmost detail, there are moments that old fans of the band may find hard to sit through, such as having These Colours Don't Run come up right after For the Greater Good of God, two of the slower numbers on the release. Having Bring Your Daughter ... To the Slaughter come up right after that is awkward as well, with the sudden outburst of energy. One thing is certain though, ending the compilation with When the Wild Wind Blows is definitely a suitable choice.
Many fans of bands often complain and dislike compilation releases and condemn them as moves that are made by the band to make a final run on fans' money. While I generally agree with this notion, it is hard to deny that From Fear to Eternity has caused me to rediscover albums that I have neglected from Maiden's discography, and has helped in getting me to appreciate albums that I have previously disliked and I eventually go back to these albums instead of this compilation. For casual fans of the band, From Fear to Eternity is a good introduction to later-era Maiden. For more serious fans of the band though, this compilation will end up as just another CD/LP in one's collection with no real purpose other than for the appreciation of the beautiful artwork on the picture LPs.