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Where the Maiden sound truly began - 88%

Fatal_Metal, September 29th, 2006

‘Piece Of Mind’ isn’t quite as good as its predecessor ‘Number Of The Beast’. On this one, the band takes a more melodic and yet more mature direction. This release is where Iron Maiden true sound actually begun. The album isn’t quite as consistent as the previous one, it has some slightly underwhelming songs for Maiden’s style which is what actually prevents it from getting a higher rating. Still, this is undoubtedly a damned good album. The variety on the album is outstanding, there are proggy numbers, (‘Revelations’, ‘Flight Of The Icarus’, ‘To Tame A Land’), speed metal (‘Where Eagles Dare’ and to a lesser extent ‘The Trooper’) and shorter, more melodic numbers (‘Still Life’, ‘Die With Your Boots On’, ‘Quest For Fire’, ‘Sun And Steel’).

Bruce delivers some of his best performances on some of the songs here – just check out his outstanding performances on ‘Revelations’ or ‘Where Eagles Dare’ or ‘Flight Of Icarus’. This I guess, is because the band as it progresses is getting more and more adaptive to Dickinson’s more operatic style. Dave and Adrian provide more melodic riffing this time around. The soloing here is totally ace – the solos on ‘Die With Your Boots On’, ‘Flight Of The Icarus’, ‘Revelations’ and ‘The Trooper’ rank among Maiden’s best. Steve does a great job on bass, his bass is the driving force for ‘To Tame A Land’ where he provides mesmerizing, trace-like pseudo-Egyptian bass which proves to be the backbone of the song. Nicko does a good job here although he isn’t quite as prolific as Clive.

‘Where Eagles Dare’ starts off with a burst of pure speed metal. Its based on Alistair Maclean’s excellent novel of the same title. ‘Revelations’ is a half-ballad with excellent, murky Sabbath-style riffing and stands only next to ‘Infinite Dreams’ in the list of Maiden’s best ballads. Also to be noted here is the awesome solo. ‘Flight Of The Icarus’ is regarded as a Maiden classic and rightfully so. It’s slower with an excellent vocal performance by Bruce (Dio’s influence on Bruce is clearly visible on this one) and excellent soloing by Adrian and Dave. ‘Die With Your Boots On’ is a melodic, hard-rockish number (the title’s origin isn’t clear at all). It’s one of Maiden’s catchiest and has a heck of a solo and chorus. ‘The Trooper’ is another short, speedy number. Although some of its char has certainly been lost by overplay, this one still does rule. ‘Still Life’ is a rather haunting song, Bruce keeps up with the tense atmosphere. It’s good but not quite up to Maiden’s standards, a rather underwhelming number for Maiden. ‘Quest For Fire’ and ‘Sun And Steel’ aren’t amazing either, although they’re in no way bad – they’re both very catchy with excellent choruses. Of course, all this is made up for by the last track – ‘To Tame A Land’. Based on the frankly amazing (pun intended) Dune, this one qualifies as one of Maiden’s best ever. The mesmerizing bass along with the murky Sabbath riffing is the driving force of the song. The song reflects the desert atmosphere of Arrakis (for those who haven’t read Dune, read it fools!) and pays tribute to the legendary book quite well. The song feels builds up a trance-like atmosphere excellently and finishes in a truly hypnotic fashion.

The maturity of the band is clearly seen in this release and it is recommended for Maiden fans and true metal fans alike. Although some might find the ‘lack of heaviness’ here a turn-off factor, it does make up with its more epic, mature songwriting and deserves its place of recognition in the metal universe.