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Maiden's worst - 56%

Fatal_Metal, September 29th, 2006

Woah, have Maiden hit rock bottom here. This is their most uninspired and random effort ever. This album has a hard rock overtone to it, check out glam rockers like ‘From Here To Eternity’ or the Bon Jovi-esque ‘Weekend Warrior’, This isn’t bad, except in Maiden’s case – it just doesn’t work especially when they can make longer, more well drawn out compositions that far outclass these songs. The album ahs some absolutely amazing songs - actually six of the albums 12 tracks are amazing. These songs are anything better than the best No Prayer could offer. The problem is the remaining
Six songs. Whereas ‘No Prayer for the Dying’ had no amazing songs but maintained a level of consistency, this release is heavily polarized. Six of the total songs totally stomp and the rest are absolute swill.

Bruce here continues the rasp style developed on ‘No Prayer’ on a few songs, on others though he adopts Bon Jovi-esque vocals (Weekend Warrior especially), then he also tries some 70’s crooning and the most common style prevalent here is the good old’ Bruce style. The guitars have definitely improved, well in 6 song that is. Dave and Janick’s solos are consistently good throught the album. Steve and Nicko still don’t play much of a part in album proceedings.

The six songs to be noted are the first three songs and ‘The Fugitive’, ‘Judas Be My Guide’ and of course, the title track.‘Be Quick Or Be Dead’ starts off the album with a bang – awesome heavy riffing to be found here. This is undoubtedly Maiden’s best opener and speed song, even better than Aces High! The monstrous riffing is combined with Bruce’s vicious snarling and rasping and with a really great chorus, great sense of melody and nice soloing – this thing comes off as nothing short of a masterpiece. Then, ‘From Here To Eternity’ is an 80’s glam-influenced track. Its very singalong and fun, another of the albums highlights. ‘Afraid To Shoot Strangers’ is a great atmospheric ballad akin to ‘Children Of The Damned’, Bruce even croons here. ‘The Fugitive’ is a nice, catchy song with Bruce doing very well on vocals and great memorable riffing to back him up. Then comes ‘Judas Be My Guide’. It’d take a damn awesome track to beat the opener – and yes, this is that damn awesome track. Bruce here snarls with passion while Dave and Gers throw out excellent dual-guitars and awesome catchy riffing. The title track is an undisputable classic and holds on well to other Maiden closers. The song starts off with a beautiful pseudo-Latin strum that really does get one kicked awake after the snoozefest of ‘Weekend Warrior’. The lyrics sound delightfully naïve and Bruce perfectly imitates a man’s phobia of the dark on vocals. The riffing here is absolutely magnificent – very very catchy. The soloing too is excellent.

The rest of the six tracks are not worth dissecting at all. They’re the songs that Maiden thought of at random just to fill in the album length as they were out of ideas. ‘Fear Is The Key’ I guess qualifies as the best among the fillers but it too is goddamn awful. Brcue sounds pathetic on vocals although the music is fine but extremely boring. ‘Wasting Love’ is the worst ballad Maiden have ever done. ‘Childhood’s End’, ‘The Aparation’, ‘Chains Of Misery’ – heck, all stuff written at random with absolutely no sense of coherency or melody in mind. ‘Weekend Warrior’ I need not mention, this one is Maiden’s most blatantly commercial song. If this would have been released as a single in place of ‘Be Quick Or Be Dead’, it would have hit #1 so fast Maiden themselves would be knocked over. The reason is simple, this one has them imitating a Bon Jovi. Check out Bruce – ‘just look at youuuu noooow’ – that’s Bon Jovi, you could almost mistake Bruce for him.

On the whole, this is Maiden’s worst album. Why they insist on keeping the fillers instead of drafting an EP of killers is beyond me. Its like adding Tabasco sauce to a plum – the entire thing (in this case, the album) ends up a mediocre mess. Download the six tracks mentioned and avoid the rest as if they were infected, this isn’t even for a die-hard Maiden fan.