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FUCKING NICE!!! - 100%

Ayeka, December 15th, 2002

This won't mean too much to you guys, but recently I'd been having a crisis of identity. After three years as a loyal Maiden fan, I'd begun listening to Judas Priest a ton more and was seriously considering naming them as my #1 Metal band. It may seem trivial to the rest of you, but I need to know who I owe my allegiance to! :D And after picking up this, I can safely say I am sticking to the mighty Maiden...

The metal case of this feels a bit cheap when you touch it, and that is honestly the only critiscism I can hold against this box set. The case still looks incredible anyway. The shot glass is subtley decorated, but unmistakebly Maiden, and the family tree feels holy to touch (keep it wrapped in that fancy ring though!). That just leaves the music, the most important part of this box set (of course!).

The very first four songs will be of historical interest to hardcore Maiden fans, as they feature Tony Parsons on guitar and Doug Sampson on drums. Burning Ambition on Best Of The B-sides will be the only other place you'll be able to hear Doug - not sure if Tony's there, and I'm not sure who plays on Invasion. Anyway, these songs come out nice and raw, though I still prefer the more polished album versions.
The glut of live songs that constitute two thirds of the music here all come out FANTASTIC. All of them. Never mind that Iron Maiden alone pops up five times, you'll enjoy it every time unless you got a serious beef against that song. These do a brilliant job of proving all the propaganda about Maiden being a killer live band, and it's easy to see how they caught so much attention back in the early days. The sound quality is consistantly good throughout, and the setlists are ace. The Hammersmith songs are particularly energetic, the inclusion of Another Life and Total Eclipse among other rare gems is particularly welcome. It's interesting to note how clear it is as to why Bruce won kudos over Paul in terms of being a frontman - Paul's between-song banter on the Reading '80 part od CD2 sounds lacking in confidence, and doesn't really hold up much to Bruce's. Still sings good though.

The B-sides show why Maiden singles are worth collecting, and this will allow my vinyl collection to take a well earned break ^_^ pity that there's no MIssion From 'Arry, but I figure it would've sounded out of place amongst these. I've got a feeling Burning Ambition has had a bit of a remix, too. Most of these songs are covers, and give a good deal of variety and are all great, apart from the ones from Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter which in my opinion don't hold up as well as the others. If I had to single out one I'd make it King Of Twilight - this is completely unlike anything else Maiden have recorded, a rather strange prog-rock song with strange lyrics and crazy changes throughout the song. Damn cool.

Now, roll on the new Maiden album!!!