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For the first time in Maiden’s career, they skipped a year before releasing a new studio album. “Somewhere In Time” was released in 1986, still with the same line-up. Something had changed, though. Maiden included keyboards (or guitar synthesizers) for the very first time. Also, the sound has a futuristic feel to it. The songs themselves are mostly about space and time and distance, so it’s not far from being a concept album.
It begins with ‘Caught Somewhere In Time’, and the synthesizers are instantly there. I wonder how hard it was for Maiden fans at the time to get used to it, hehe. After a short intro, it kicks off, revealing a fast, galloping rhythm. Dickinson has the same skyhigh quality of a voice as usual, and the dual guitar-playing is present. Smith and Murray is the perfect guitar-couple. What amazed me the most when first hearing this album, though, is the superb drumming from Nicko McBrain! I feel this is his best work to date. The solos in the first song are spectacular and epic. Note that Bruce Dickinson didn’t write a single song in this album, and still it’s high quality stuff! Amazing. Anyway, all in all, the first track is a great opener (of course, we all know Maiden have no bad openers…) Track two is ‘Wasted Years’, and works as this album’s ballad. Except that it’s not really a ballad at all. It’s just slower and even catchier than the rest of the album. The lead intro is killer, and after listening to the chorus a couple of times, you’re bound to hum it for a week. This song also features a great, “heartfelt” solo. Perfect.
Then it’s onto ‘Sea of Madness’. This one’s faster than ‘Wasted Years’. The bridge and the chorus is what stands out on this song. There’s a certain epic feeling going through those sections of the song. Thinking of it, nearly the whole album has this epic feel, which is only a good thing. Again there’s an incredible lead guitar solo present. Halfway through the song there’s a section where things calm down, and it’s some of the best Maiden’s done yet. So far, so good. ‘Heaven Can Wait’ is next up. Again you quickly realize you’re listening to another classic, and this is perhaps the best song on the album. Perhaps. This is pretty much perfect from beginning to end, with a pretty fast tempo, and a memorable chorus. About halfway through, there’s a real singalong moment, just like at the end ‘The Wicker Man’. How Maiden accomplish this without it sounding cheesy, is beyond me, but there you are. Then we’re treated with a second solo, which is even better than the first. Then some twin-guitar play again, before the third verse begins. No wonder I love this song. The fifth song has the longest title from Iron Maiden yet: ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’. It begins with a nice intro, then suddenly explodes into yet another fast song. There’s a certain amount of galloping, as well. The chorus on this is perhaps not the most genious one of all time, but as a whole this song is extremely well written. I’m glad Bruce’s contributions to this album were scrapped, hearing how wonderful it is! He actually wrote a lot of accoustic stuff, but Steve didn’t think it was good enough, and didn’t go along with it. Well done, Steve!
Track six is without doubt the worst song here; ‘Stranger In a Strange Land’. That’s not to say it stinks, it’s actually very good, but it simply can’t compare to the other seven songs. It has kind of a disco-feel over it in places, but it sounds better than you might expect from hearing such a description. The line ‘no brave new world’ is repeated in this song, making me think of Maiden’s latest. If I were to rate this song by itself, I would’ve given it a 8/10, so it’s still quality stuff. The guitar solo in this is actually outstanding. Onto what is another candidate for best song on the record; ‘De Ja Vu’. A nice and moody intro, before speeding up (about every song on the album has this progression, without it getting repetitive). There’s a lot of double-bass drumming from Nicko in this song. The verse, the chorus, the guitars, the bass, the singing, the drumming, the sound, the melody lines…it’s all so damn perfect! What’s the word…yes, it’s orgasmic! Talking about those feelings, there’s still one song left. It’s the epic of the album, (not that there’s any lack of epicness elsewhere on the album, but anyway), and the title is ‘Alexander the Great’. Over 8 and a half minute long, it follows nicely in the vein of ‘To Tame a Land’ and ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. The intro is kind of march-based, which sounds great. It’s also very moody. Lyrically speaking, the song’s a bit ackward, thanks to Steve, but Bruce does what he can to make it sound great, he he succeeds. The chorus is again perfect. After four minutes the song calms a bit down, and this is where my favorite part of my song begins. Especially around the 4:52 mark. Who needs porn when you got that section?! The best thing is, that part of the song lasts quite a while, and features several killer guitar solos. The rest of the song is also killer. As you might understand, it’s between this one, ‘Heaven Can Wait’, and ‘De Ja Vu’.
Another review done. Phew! But I enjoyed reviewing this one. No need to say more, is there? Go and buy it! Meanwhile I’m going to listen to it one more time.