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Iron Maiden > Brave New World > Reviews > Annable Courts
Iron Maiden - Brave New World

Iron Maiden in 4 paragraphs - 82%

Annable Courts, April 2nd, 2024

What's the best way to bounce back from an entire decade that fans generally see as an underwhelming set of developments? The glorious eighties delivered nothing but classics while the naughty nineties brought their smearing banality as the band entered the decade with what could be considered their worst offering ever in the 1990 'No Prayer' album and ended it on the near-equally forgettable note that was 'Virtual XI'. So to answer that first question, it's quite simple: how about if the band proverbially brought back Bruce Dickinson from the dead, produced songs closer in style (and quality) to the earlier stuff pre-90's with anthemic choruses and immediately recognizable melodies, and gave that album an inspirational title that reflected effectively the resurrection of Iron Maiden as a dominant cultural phenomenon and force in the entire metal/rock industry? Seems a sound plan. Execution.

The chorus on starter track 'The Wicker Man' instantly lifts the listener's spirit with a tight combination of a short guitar lick juxtaposed with Dickinson's repeating mantra "Your time will come!". Not much later, the much awaited album-track for such a loaded (Aldous) Huxleyan title comes on and it's a perfect prototype of the classic Maiden song. The crescendo begins after a soft clean guitar picking throws the audience back to the good old days, until the distortion guitar palm mutes accelerate the motion. Dickinson moves to a graver tone as he reaches for his powerful head voice. Finally, the chorus is here: the Maiden gallop in all its efficiency, Harris' bass steady as a rock in the back, and a catchy hook that feels like the entire band and their fan base saying "Home, sweet home".

They'd done it: revive the classic Maiden sound without it sounding like a cheap and obvious gimmick, and inject just enough invention that it still sounds like an entirely new chapter rather than a revisiting of an old book with worn out pages. Next up, the solemn-toned 'Blood Brothers' offers more of that feel-good heroism, in a more romantically explicit momentum. 'The Mercenary' continues with that larger-than-life rock demeanor: a twofold chorus as the beat slows down on the second part and Dickinson exclaims "Show them no fear", completed by inspiriting leads.

Perhaps the album's superstar, 'Dream of Mirrors', parks its imposing near 10-min frame, and it is quite the treat. It appears to be going one way for a whole chunk of it, with an introspective quietness to it that seems to be gearing towards a long Maiden ballad, as the lyrics insist "The dream is true, the dream is true". All of a sudden on the second verse, the suspended power chords appear, bolstering the instrumental, and Dickinson picks up a bit of drive and then the most explosive development happens: "I only dream in black and white" rings out in the most powerful and illuminating fashion one could imagine. It's so full of determination and boldness it practically sweeps the audience off the floor. The chorus accelerated times two later is weird, though. The final twenty minutes after that are competent enough to keep the album playing, but surely this album really is about the first forty.