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Power Metal bands, take heed - 97%

TableofHELL, December 9th, 2007

I have a strong feeling this album was concocted by Iron Maiden to shed their NWOBHM skin entirely. They sure as hell were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition when it came to making this kind of music. Less NWOBHM and more power metal is on hand here. It has all the traits that future power metal bands would take from them: vocal acrobatics, melodic and epic sounding guitars and songwriting, technical chops, lyrics speaking of battlefields, barren wastelands and sci fi imagery, bass lines that bring along ensemble work with the guitars, and drumming that is completely over the top.
Speaking of drumming, exits ex-drummer Clive Burr and enters Nicko McBrain. I dont know which drummer I prefer more, but lets just say that both drummers have their strengths and weaknesses. This will be the 4th time and the fourth album where they lose an original member, but this lineup would remain stable until 1990. Onto the songs themselves..
Where Eagles Dare. The aforementioned power metal sensibilities come into play here. Quite the epic song if I do say so myself, stretching the 6 minute mark, with several riffing ideas built on top of the last one. Revelations, the first song written entirely by singer Bruce Dickinson, which changes feel and tempo without warning several times, alternating between heavy riffing sections, and softer, prettier sections for the verses.
The true classic on hand here is The Trooper, which is a staple in the live set today, and for good reason. This Steve Harris (bass) penned composition has just about everything good about Iron Maiden included in its four minute duration. The riffs are meant to make you raise your fist and join in with the defiance, while the lyrics are very descriptive and detailed, like many Maiden lyrics.
Other standouts include the very atmospheric To Tame a Land (which was to be based on the novel Dune, and was to be titled "Dune", but the author of the book threatened to sue Maiden if they used the title), and Still Life, a song that reminds me very much of Hand of Doom by Black Sabbath for some reason, and Flight of Icarus, the first single from the album, with a very anthemic sounding chorus.
Yessiree, this album took Maiden to the next level and beyond, as their stage show got even bigger and more theatrical, and they began touring more consistently with lengthier tour sets. The NWOBHM tag had finally been torn off and now they were the leaders of the modern metal movement of the time. The only question was...where do they go from here?