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Lost Somewhere in Excellence - 100%

InfinityX, November 13th, 2012

This album seems to be the forgotten gem in Maiden's discography. You don't even have to like metal to have heard of songs like Number of the Beast or Run to the Hills. And I haven't met too many people who haven't heard of Aces High or Two Minutes to Midnight. But ask anyone about Somewhere in Time and you often don't get much of a reaction. This album had no big single that everyone knows about, and despite how great this album is, it seems often overshadowed by Maidens other masterworks.

BUT WHY!? This album is damn near flawless! And yet even the band themselves don't play much off of this album. Wasted Years and Heaven Can Wait are the only songs you have ANY chance of seeing get played live by them anymore. And I think it's ridiculous! Oh yeah, play freaking Futureal and Sign of the Cross but no Caught Somewhere in Time!? No Alexander the Great!!?? NOT EVEN FUCKING DEJA VU!!??

So yeah, this album is the masterpiece that is forgotten, which is a shame because it just may be Maiden's best ever. This is the first album to have synthesizers popped into the music, but no keyboards like on Seventh Son, just guitar and bass synths. And the addition is subtle in parts and grandiose in others, but is definitely a fantastic addition to the bands already epic sound. Just listen to the AWESOME intros to the opener or Heaven Can Wait. It sounds fantastic and creates more of that science fictiony feel the band was going for on this album. And though not a concept album, the theme of time is apparent on most of the songs here. All except Sea of Madness, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, and Heaven Can Wait have time as a theme if you count Alexander the Greats historical lyrics as being time oriented.

And lyrically this album is top notch. Every song has a catchy chorus that sticks in your head (in the case of Heaven Can Wait perhaps a little too sticky). I've had every song stuck in my head at least a hundred times I swear. And the lyrics aren't just stupid catchiness, they are original, and at times hard to decipher. I'm still not 100% what Caught Somewhere in Time is about, but the lyrics have an intellectual feel to them the whole damn album. Alexander the Great's lyrics are literally just historical facts, somehow pulled off in a melodic fashion by the legend himself, Bruce Dickinson.

And the vocals are as good as it gets as well. I can hear him belting out 'Time, Is Always on my Side' right now as I'm writing this review. If you've listened to Dickinson era Maiden before (and by god, you really should get on that if you haven't) you know how awesome the vocals are. But if you SOMEHOW haven't, his vocals are just godlike. Operatic in quality and precision, with the power of a nuclear bomb. There isn't much more to say. Other then that he is Bruce Dickinson, and he rules you!

Instrumentally is what really makes this album stand out. The galloping bass which is so loud in the mix it can and will crush your ribcage. The dueling guitars and the fantastic drumming of the weirdest named person in metal. The strings as I mentioned are accompanied by synths in some parts, but not throughout the whole album. It certainly is not abused. I don't see how anyone would find the synth accompaniment a nuisance, but if you need your metal absolutely purely guitar-bass-drums then I have wasted your time.

The songs are all fantastic, with no filler whatsoever. Caught Somewhere in Time serves as my favourite Maiden song as of now, with it's infectious intro and pounding bass, and the grand instrumental section in the middle. Wasted Years is the closest thing this album had to a hit, and with that amazing guitar intro who wouldn't like it? An emotional vocal delivery makes this a Maiden classic. Sea of Madness is one of my favourites, and is probably the fastest on here, and who can resist the 'OHHHHHHohohOHHHHH, My eyes they see, but I can't believe!'. Just awesome. Heaven Can Wait is best known for its chorus, but I favor the bass intro and the choral section in the middle. Though I;m not going to deny the infective power of that chorus...

Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is my least favourite song on here, and is certainly the least memorable. The intro is great though, and I still never skip it. Stranger in a Strange Land follows, and is the second weakest track in my opinion. But the main riff is excellent and I can't help but scream in my car: "LAND OF ICE AND SNOOOOOOOOW!" Deja Vu is favourite of mine, and is the only song here not breaking through the 5 minute mark. But it is still one of the finer songs here. And of course, ending with a Maiden epic is the excellent Alexander the Great. Though on the whole an excellent song, the instrumental section should've been trimmed a tiny but I feel. But still a great ender to a near-perfect album.

**EDIT**: After more listens, Lonliness... has become a favourite of mine. Stranger in a Strange Land is what I consider the weakest track, but it still kicks ass. So now I certainly consider this to be a PERFECT album that you must now go buy!

Original lyrics, great use of synthesizers, and excellent songwriting add up to one of metals best records, Iron Maiden's forgotten opus Somewhere in Time gets a 100 out of 100 or a 5 out of 5.
Highlights:
Caught Somewhere in Time
Wasted Years
Sea of Madness
Heaven Can Wait
Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner
Stranger in a Strange Land
Deja Vu
Aleaxander the Great