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This was probably the most important album for Iron Maiden to craft as it was "make or break" for them. It really can be seen as the twin album to Piece of Mind as it has many similar traits with that album, including the production and the all around aura they both obtain. This album is much more majestic, however, as it truly cemented Maiden's position as THE metal band to beat in the 80s metal scene. Sure, there were heavier and faster monsters (mainly looming from the West Coast of the US at the time, but that's another story), but Maiden was truly stepping into the world's spotlight at the time. Sold out tours in America and just about everywhere else on the planet cemented that fact into the most metal of all stones. Quite a feat considering Maiden recieved next to no airplay in America.
The album itself is quite collossal. I consider it to be just as collossal as the stage show that followed after this record hit shelves. The 12 foot tall eddie coming out during the title track, holding Steve Harris in his hand. [sigh] What I would do be alive to witness such an important thing in metal history.
The album opens firing on all cylinders with 'Aces High'. A nice fast song recalling WWII air combat, with very turbo jet engine like riffing ideas and some amazing vocal work courtesy of Bruce Dickinson.
'2 Minutes to Midnight' is next, one of the band's biggest hits, and probably an eternal concert staple. For some odd reason, the intro/main riff recalls 'Welcome to Hell' by Venom to me. There's just a whole lot more to this one, and let's just say the guys in Maiden knew what they were doing a bit better than the Newcastle never-do-wells :)
'Back in the Village' is supposed to be part 2 of 'The Prisoner' which was on Number of the Beast. The lyrics are based on some reality TV show or something. I'm not quite sure though. I could be wrong. Musically, its got a very great rhythm, reminding me of something Megadeth would do on Killing is my Business.
The two closing tracks on the album are the true highlights though. They are so completely massive and epic, they put any other band trying to top this to shame. Symphony X wish they could write another 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. The title track of the album has some great egyptian style melodies. This is another Dickinson penned song, and it shows he's made a great leap since Piece of Mind, as this song is even better than Revelations, despite that song completely slaying. 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' itself is the coin Maiden epic of their entire discography. It has some great gallop type riffing, and some great lyrics to go along with it, detailing Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 19th century poem of the same name. Describing this song would be redundant and overlong, so I just recommend it is heard. It has so many feels and moods in its 13:40 minute duration. But I will say here, that the section around the 9 minute mark, after Bruce yells 'THEN DOWN IN FALLS COMES THE RAIN!' would have to be one of the greatest metal moments ever. It's like those spine chilling moments during 'Hallowed be thy Name' all over again, just less somber sounding.
Yes, this was the album that put Maiden at the top of the world. And it was rightly deserved too. The album cover art of an Egyptian carved Eddie is very fitting, considering Maiden is eternal and will be remembered always.