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Much better than DoD - 90%

StygianSteel, August 24th, 2006

And my long wait has come to an end. Here it is, the new Maiden. This one has had me pumped for awhile now. Ever since I saw that video for Benjamin Breeg hit the net I've been salivating for this album and every new song that came out just left me wanting more.

Now that I have it... I can truely say this IS the Maiden album I was wanting in every way. The sound is smooth and flowing, the songs are loaded with hooks, and this album manages to be both patented Maiden yet strikingly adventurous. I loved Brave New World, but it was sort of a safe album that tried to recapture and in a way repeat what had been done before. Understandable as it was their attempt to bring the Maiden sound back from life support and say 'Hey, Bruce is back'. DoD then tried to experiment but came off as awkward at times. I read in an interview with Bruce that he thought this album was experimental but came much more naturally and I have to say his assessment is 100% right.

There was a time when every Maiden album really had it's own identity and sound... and that time is back. There are a couple standards here like These Colours Don't Run and The Pilgrim which follow a mid-paced gallop and would not be out of place on an album like BNW. These are two of the shorter tracks and probably the most direct on the album. The Pilgrim does have some interesting dual layer vocals of Bruce in his mid and high range though which work quite well. Different World is also fairly direct but is insanely catchy and features a chorus with a somewhat different vocal sound by Bruce that I really enjoy. Another short but sweet track is Out Of The Shadows which is an utterly incredible song that harkens back to a sound I've not heard from Maiden in some time. A truely passionate ballad the likes of which I don't think I've heard since Children Of The Damned.

This album is mostly geared towards epic sounding songs, with 6 tracks clocking in over 7 minutes in length. Most all of these start with a slow and soft intro and build into very powerful tracks that simply work. The most immediately striking remains The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg with it's heavy crunch guitar and fucking awesome vocals. What the last couple Maiden songs have really been missing is a classic single and this one just succeeds with flying colors. It drew me in the moment I heard it and it stands out from the rest of the album. It is just one of those instant classic songs and is every bit as good as the classic Maiden singles in my opinion.

In conclusion, this is Maiden... but not just Maiden you've heard before, which is extremely refreshing. It's nice hearing them bring something new to the table and making it work beautifully. The one thing I can say as a sort of con to this album is that the many times over repeated choruses remain in a couple tracks, but that's never really bothered me anyways. As long as the chorus is good and delivered with conviction, I don't mind hearing it a few times over. All in all, I can't imagine any fan of Maiden being displeased with this album.

Highlights: The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg, Out Of The Shadows, Different World, For The Greater Good of God