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“Somewhere in Time” is Iron Maiden’s sixth studio album. It was here, that Harris and friends decided to try something new, something completely different from the last three albums. As a result, Iron Maiden added synthesizers, keyboards, began to make futuristic music, and turned Eddie into a cyborg warrior that wears little more than a metallic speedo (It’s actually one of the best Eddie’s created). Naturally this means that there is much more to talk about in this release.
This album is like a journey through time and space. It’s epic, interesting, and mysterious. In one word, I would call it futuristic. Stranger in a Strange Land and Alexander the Great are exceptions; especially Alexander. I will get to the differences of these songs later. This is easily one of Maiden’s most distinct releases. DO NOT start this album hoping for another Number of the Beast (Piece of Mind, Powerslave, etc.), because this album is much different from its predecessors.
I cannot praise the band enough for their performance here. Bruce’s singing never ceased to amaze me on this album. He delivers unique vocals for every song, yet it somehow always fits his style. This album is possibly my favorite bass performance from Steve. Listen for some masterful bass playing on Stranger in a Strange Land and the title track. Steve also wrote most of the songs here so he did an amazing job in that respect as well. Adrian is very prominent on this album, providing excellent guitar work and writing both of the albums singles, plus Sea of Madness. Dave is just as good as ever, but unfortunately did not contribute any songs. Dave and Adrian provide some of the greatest solos ever on this release. Just listen to Alexander and you’ll know what I mean. Nicko sounds amazing on this album and creates a perfect rhythm for each song. Some of Nicko’s fastest drumming can be found here, particularly on the title track. Also worth mentioning is the album’s great production and mixing.
Now, the album opens up with its title track Caught Somewhere in Time. The song begins with some nice futuristic guitar and synth, that successfully creates the image of our badass, half-naked, Eddie flying around in a highly advanced, time-traveling, spaceship. After that great opening, Eddie goes into lightspeed, and the whole band follows with some fast paced galloping riffs, amazing singing by Bruce, and the unsurprisingly brilliant solo that fits the song so well. This is pretty much a really fast paced sci-fi inspired song; a highlight for sure. The next song, Wasted Years is this album’s equivalent to Run to the Hills; super catchy. However, Wasted Years is superior to Run to the Hills. Why? Because Wasted Years has nice epic verses, a good catchy chorus, and some interesting guitar work. In terms of solo, I guess Run to the Hills rivals Wasted Years, considering the solo in Run to the Hills is very good. The recurring intro of this song is the only part that really has the trademark sound of the album. Nevertheless, the song fits very well, and is a good listen. So understand that this album begins perfectly with these two compositions.
Sea of Madness starts off rather heavy, but eventually turns into quite a beautiful masterpiece, and closes perfectly. This song is one of Bruce’s best performances for sure. Bruce’s singing on this song is mysterious and operatic with a hint of aggressiveness at times. Next up is Heaven Can Wait, which is simply epic. Almost every part of this song is fantastic, aside from the overly happy, but thankfully short chorus. This song sounds like a mix of this album’s title track and Seventh Son (which generally sounds rather dark, epic, and fantasy inspired). Track five is The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, a very interesting song. Long Distance Runner has a quiet opening before abruptly speeding up and delivering some intense playing, which then transforms into a beautiful chorus. The funny thing is all of these styles perfectly fit together to create one hell of a song. Keep in mind all of the first five tracks have the atmosphere I have spoken of. That’s about to change with the album’s second single, (The other being Wasted Years) Stranger in a Strange Land. This song is Icy cold, heavy metal. Stranger is no doubt the heaviest song on here, and like I said, it has a perfect icy atmosphere. Here, we end up imagining a frozen desert, rather than a Star Wars inspired spaceship/time traveling journey. Bruce’s singing is another big highlight of this work of art. I also found the solo interesting, as it begins slow and beautifully, before becoming heavy.
The next composition is Déjà Vu, a guitar oriented song. For what little singing there is on this track, Bruce does well, using modern technology to give his voice a robotic touch. The guitar work here is very epic, intense, and deep; it really keeps the song beyond interesting at all times. Another song that fits the albums mysterious and futuristic style (especially the title). Now the closer, Alexander the Great, is perhaps my favorite song of all time. Completely different from the sci-fi feel of the rest of the release, this song sounds Middle Eastern. The song begins with a narrated intro, before proceeding into a quiet melody that finishes with a beautiful and emotional solo. The song soon shifts into its heavy Middle Eastern sound, accompanied by amazing vocals from Bruce. Eventually my favorite solo of all time kicks in. To describe this mind-blowing section, I guess its most simply put as a slow march beat with the greatest guitar playing that’s ever graced my ears. The solo is simply beautiful in every way imaginable. The guitar manages to be both very fast and very emotional at the same time. Additionally, the slow beat that accompanies this fast playing works very well with the guitar and completes the sound. After that masterpiece of a solo, the original Middle Eastern riffs return, along with Bruce, and the song closes beautifully. Synth is very present on Alexander, and makes the song even more amazing. It’s better than I can put into words; you must hear it.
- All of Alexander the Great
- The intro to Caught Somewhere in Time
- Chorus in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
“Somewhere in Time” is what I would call Maiden’s second best release. I liked “Brave New World” a tad more, but this comes damn close to it. In terms of cover and Eddie design I think the two albums tie. Speaking of the cover, this is the best 80’s Maiden cover, plus it contains a ton of Maiden references to satisfy the devoted Iron Maiden fans. Another thing that I like about this album is that it was the first Iron Maiden album to utilize synth and keyboards, two things that they would continue to use excellently. It is unfortunate the band ignores this release aside from Wasted Years and Stranger. A live recording of the title track and Alexander would be awesome.
In the end “Somewhere in Time” is a classic that has not aged in any way whatsoever. Most likely, this album will continue to pass the test of time, and impress new generations of people for many decades to come. That half-naked cyborg version of Eddy will represent one of the greatest albums of all time, for hopefully, many generations to come. The irons should be upped a hundred-fold for this masterpiece. Iron Maiden has truly surpassed themselves.