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About 10 minutes too long... - 70%

Stormrider2112, February 20th, 2012

It's not that this is a boring album, it's that a few songs drag on WAY too long. The Angel & The Gambler from the video version (available on the Futureal single or Visions of the Beast) is actually a fun little rock song, but to DOUBLE the length of the song with the same chorus being repeated about 506834205 times just kills it on the album. The same goes with Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger...the intro and fast parts are killer, but again, there's just way too much chorus.

Futureal is a total classic, as is The Clansman (one of Maiden's finest epics). Futureal is the pure speed metal classic here (every Maiden album has one...other than No Prayer), and much better than its X Factor counterpart, Man On The Edge. Upbeat, simple, killer solo.

The Clansman, along with its X Factor counterpart Sign Of The Cross (and the live versions of Afraid To Shoot Strangers), is the highlight of the Blaze era. Slow brooding, epic chorus, and Blaze at his vocal peak. The live versions with Bruce are nice, but there's something about Blaze's gruffer voice that really sets the studio original apart.

The rest of the album can be lumped in as "good" Maiden, but it's all pretty generic Maiden, as well. Lightning Strikes Twice has a great vocal/guitar melody in the chorus. When Two Worlds Collide is the typical ballad-into-crusher Maiden song (see: Afraid To Shoot Strangers, No Prayer For The Dying, Infinite Dreams), but fails to really grab you by the balls. The Educated Fool is basically When Two Worlds Collide, but falls short of even falling short. Como Estais Amigos closes the album in a way that no other Maiden album has done since Killers (Drifter): with a thud. Generic song and doesn't really get going or even attempt to do so.

All in all, you won't miss not having this, but Futureal and The Clansman should find their way into your collection somehow (The Essential Iron Maiden has both songs). It's not that Blaze is bad (actually, he's in top form here, even compared to the epic Silicon Messiah solo abum), it's that Steve Harris just happened to have the great idea of making a 40 minute album 50 minutes long.