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This has been a much long awaited release by the British heavy metal legends, Iron Maiden. Still sticking to their roots, however, this album is very different from their classic releases in the 80s. A lot like A Matter of Life and Death, Iron Maiden has continued working on their new-found progressive sound with longer longs and odd time signatures. Their ascension up the heavy metal hierarchy can be really attributed to their previous style; harmonized leads and 4-5 minutes classics. How will this album fare with the critics? It’s certainly a point to be proven by Steve and his mates.
This is, as I said before, a completely different album and one which will receive much criticism and acclaim simultaneously. For me though, I had to listen to the whole album three times before I could come to like it. It does prove a point; it’s a pretty good album. Anyone can dislike it at first go and not listen to it a second time before jumping to a straightforward conclusion. Although, grabbing the listeners’ attentions is a key aspect of a success, this album is not dismissive. It is a good album which sticks to some basics that have come to define the archetypes of Iron Maiden’s music. Steve Harris still maintains those galloping basslines that made this band’s music so popular and sonically “different”. It’s always catchy. Moreover, Adrian did a good job in taking the lead role in compositions and his solos sounded beautiful and well constructed. I guess, Janick didn’t play a big part in solos in The Final Frontier.
What disappointed me, however, was that, provided many of the songs were long, the instrumentals were not really varied. The verse and chorus repeated a couple of times and that was really it. I expected some well executed interludes and guitar harmonies. All the lengthy songs, quite characteristically, start like those in AMOLAD- with slow clean guitar passages and Steve’s basslines. Not that it sounds bad, more like it has become a hackneyed start. Although, I really love the intro of “The Talisman” which starts off with a beautiful acoustic passage played by Janick. I really expected some more acoustics in this album bearing in mind that the albums are going to be long. On contrary, the only song that had the touch of the classic Maiden is “The Alchemist” with its intro guitar defining it all. It also has a catchy chorus with Bruce singing it well- although Bruce didn’t put one his operatic voice into it. Now, Bruce’s voice sounded extremely tired in the chorus sections of this album, exemplified by the choruses of “Mother of Mercy” and “El Dorado”, both of which are quite decent songs. The beginning of this album, the title song, is rather eccentric which commences with a Harris bass section that sounds quite psychedelic. To me, the long intro wasted the song and it would’ve served better to be only the last four minutes. To me, the best song of this album was its longest- Where the Wild Wind Blows. It has great melodic guitar works and very good lyrics. But, the repeating song structures prevented it from entering my all time Iron Maiden favourites.
This is a good album, no doubt; however it has the potential to disappoint many fans. I think they could’ve worked on a bit differently. If they really wanted to create progressive metal, they could’ve made the guitars sound heavier, maintaining a modicum of melody. If an Iron Maiden freak, but I still can’t say that it is really good or great. Simplified, it is good but, it could’ve been better for the sake of the band’s talent. If this album fails to make a world wide sales impact, I won’t be surprised. It’s clear that Iron Maiden has tried something new, and it is really appreciated by many. However, people looking for the Iron Maiden classics of the 80s won’t find this album very pursuing probably because of over-experimentation and repetitions of the song structures.