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I’m quite a big Maiden fan, so whenever there’s a new band/project that features any of the Maiden members, I would definitely look forward to checking them out. Unfortunately, the recent Adrian Smith’s Primal Rock Rebellion was quite a disappointment, though Bruce Dickinson‘s solo albums turned out pretty well and the short-lived WhoCares was pretty impressive as well (though that shouldn’t be surprising considering the all-star lineup).
And here we have Steve Harris‘ side band with their first album, British Lion.But British Lion isn’t exactly a brand new project as the original band started back in 1992, with Steve Harris only joining in the creative process much later after the demise of the original British Lion. So with Steve Harris helming the band that he once mentored, my personal expectations for the album are rather high, with his history of producing classic albums with Maiden.
Unfortunately, the album falls rather short of expectations. Expect no Maiden here as Steve Harris‘ British Lion is more mainstream, hard rock with melodic, catchy hooks and grooves. Album opener This Is My God starts off with a rather groovy riff, but this is about as heavy as the track is gonna get. Unlike the complex music that Maiden has released throughout most of its history, the music on British Lion is mostly straightforward rock, with little surprises hidden on the album and probably the most “complex” part of the album beign Steve Harris’ trademark style of playing of the bass like another lead instrument, minus the aggressive galloping that he usually has.
To be honest, while there isn’t anything that stands out in particular over here, there is nothing really offensive as well in the songwriting and the music. The musicians are all pretty good on their instruments (what else could one expect from a band that was once mentored by Steve Harris?), with guitarists David and Grahame using various effects on their guitars to give them some unique flavour, like towards the ending of This Is My God. The main gripe I had with British Lion was the vocals of Richard Taylor, and without discrediting his vocal abilities, I found his style rather unsuitable for the band’s music, lacking the much needed aggression on the harder parts of the album like on Karma Killer, and his light, singing style definitely did not click well with me though admittedly on the more mellow parts of the album his vocal style certainly suits the music like a glove.
I guess it isn’t that surprising that the music on British Lion takes a different direction from Maiden, with this album being a rather mainstream oriented hard rock album that would capture those looking for some easy listening music.