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Good, but not great enough for usual Maiden - 79%

TWadams39, November 1st, 2011

Fear of the Dark is not a terrible album and actually contains some great songs. Though unlike Iron Maiden's previous releases that are in my opinion 100% excellent with every track pulling its weight and no filler, this one seems a bit too average and had a bit of filler.

Lets start with the musicianship. Each member of the band plays well on this album. Bruce Dickinson's vocals are a bit more gritty on this album than most people are used to. They are comparable to his singing on the previous album, No Prayer for the Dying. The bass of course is great, for it is Steve Harris playing. Nicko McBrain's drumming is good as usual. The guitar playing of Dave Murray and Janik Gers is quite good actually, and Janik's guitar solos are one of the highlights of the album.

Before I start the track by track rundown, I want to say that a mediocre song from this band is great when compared to other songs from other bands, but this album didn't live up to usual Maiden spectacularity.

The first track, "Be Quick or be Dead", is a heavy, fast-paced opener that is almost a bit thrashy. It isn't the usual Maiden, but it is still a great song and shouldn't be ignored. "From Here to Eternity", the second track, finishes up the story of "Charlotte the Harlot" that began on their debut album. This one is alright and some may deem it a classic. It is enjoyable, though had more of a rock feel than it does Maiden epicness. "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" is absolutely great. Great music, lyrics, everything, and is a highlight of the album. It has great melodic riffs. There is a live Blaze Bayley version as well that is also pretty good, if not better. "Fear is the Key" is where many would say the filler starts. The beginning of the song is cool, but it changes to a cheesy rock-ish riff. The song has some good parts and isn't terrible and I don't always skip it on my iPod. The next track is a very different song compared to most in the bands repertoire. "Childhood's End" is, in my opinion, an excellent song, though some may disagree. The song has emotion that can really be felt during the chorus which has interesting drumming. Give it a chance. "Wasting Love" is met with a lot of disappointment as many deem it Iron Maiden's power ballad, and they aren't exactly wrong. But just because a song is mellow doesn't mean it is bad. It isn't glammy Poison bullshit, so give it a chance. You may like it.

"The Fugitive" is filler because of the lyrics. The song isn't bad. Actually it's rather catchy, but the lyrics are too generic and simple for Iron Maiden and left me disappointed. "Chains of Misery" is just okay as the chorus and riff is a bit cheesy. You can call it filler, but it isn't terrible. "The Apparition" is filler. They should have just cut it from the album and the total length would have still been enough and the album would be better overall. "Judas be my Guide" is AWESOME and is a hugely underrated Iron Maiden song with a badass chorus and harmonizing guitar riff with plenty of emotion. It's hard not to sing along. It is classic Maiden greatness. "Weekend Warrior" is filler. I mean, look at the title. Does that sound like Iron Maiden? Skip it and skip some disappointment. Now we get to the title track, "Fear of the Dark". It is a definite Maiden anthem and I don't think the band has played a concert and not played this since it was written. I'm sure you've heard it 'cause it's pretty awesome.

If they had simply cut 2 or 3 of the filler tracks from this album and left it at 9 tracks, this album could be great overall, but the few filler tracks are just unnecessary and detract from the album's overall rating. If you are new to Iron Maiden, don't start with this album. If you already like the band and are familiar with their work, this album is still enjoyably good and you should go ahead and get it.