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Good job, Maiden - 78%

Dragonface, June 24th, 2013

Ask any Maiden fan what Maiden's golden era was. I'll give you €1000 if you can find more than 5 people who answer something else than their first 7 albums. The 90s were a controversial period for the band, and anything from 'Brave New World' to 'The Final Frontier' has generally been deemed 'good, but not AS good'.

I also believe their stuff from the 80s to be their best works, but to dismiss anything after 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' would be a bigger shame than burning all copies of Homer's Odyssey simply because the Iliad is better. Agreed, albums like 'No Prayer for the Dying' and 'Virtual XI' contained some weaker songs, but in my opinion, there are a lot of songs on their later albums (the ones made after the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrain Smith), and even a few on the aforementioned ones, which can definately compete with their older material in terms of quality.

So: is this album worth buying? After all, it's From Fear to Eternity: a compillation of that period that is unfortunately ignored by a lot of fans. In short: yes. For starters: just look at the cover. I know I probably shouldn't judge an album by its cover art, but Maiden's artwork has always been very iconic. They are the proud owners of what is arguably the most recognizable metal mascot: Eddie the Head, who appears on all of Maiden's albums. I feel like this artwork deserves special mention because for one thing: it looks awesome. But what's more important is that it includes refferences to multiple songs on the album or to earlier artwork and albums: Eddie is clad in a Grim Reaper outfit (as in 'Dance of Death'), but he also appears on top of the tank (as in 'A matter of Life and Death') which is imprinted with the "Cross-Keys" symbol (as in 'The Final Frontier'). You can also see The Wicker Man burning, the tombstone (from 'No Prayer for the Dying') with a giant X on it (a refference to 'The X Factor' of course), and the burnt building (from 'Virtual XI').

But on to the actual music: This album gathers a good deal of those, in my eyes, underrated songs, like Dance of Death, Paschendale, The Wicker Man, The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, When the Wild Wind Blows etc. I honestly can't believe some people dismiss all albums made since the Bruce Dickinson/Adrian Smith reunion when there were tracks like these on those albums. Fear of the dark, pretty much the only song from Maiden's controversial era that 80s purists like, is also here. All in all, Iron Maiden have done a very good job of selecting the best songs from what many would unjustly call their "Dork Age". In fact, I think it might even help people who limited themselves to Maiden from the 80s get in to Iron Maiden's later material, since the weaker songs from the era are mostly left out.

However: it's not a completely unflawed album. A few good songs are still missing, such as No Prayer for the Dying, Fates Warning, Chains of Misery, Fortunes of War, Out of the Shadows... Songs like these could have been included included instead of Tailgunner or No More Lies, for example.

What I don't understand is why they sometimes chose live performances over the original studio recordings. Specifically, they replaced the studio version of Fear of the Dark and songs that were originally recorded with Blaze Bayley, with live recordings with Bruce Dickinson. At least, the latter still makes a little sense. I know Blaze is definately no Dickinson, but still, he's far from a terrible singer, and omitting him on the album was just a little unnecessary to me. But why would they pick a live recording of FotD over the original? That song was originally recorded with Dickinson, so replacing the studio version with a live version just makes no sense to me.

So there you have it: a good compillation of Iron Maiden's unjustly underrated era, and one that should please most fans, even the ones that initially weren't willing to give Post-Seventh Son of a Seventh Son material a try.

A very deserving Maiden compilation - 80%

TrooperOfSteel, April 7th, 2013

I really shouldn’t be describing the Irons to anyone, particularly metalheads, but if you have been living under a rock or have been in a coma for about 30 years or so, then I can give you the benefit of the doubt. Iron Maiden helped lead the charge of the new wave of British heavy metal (N.W.O.B.H.M) back in the late 70’s and early 80’s in Britain and Europe, and without hardly any airplay from British radio stations went on to become one of the biggest and most well known heavy metal bands in the world. Now it’s been 31 years since the release of their debut album (the first of 15), and Iron Maiden are still going strong and are showing no signs of slowing down or retiring.

The Irons and their label EMI are no strangers to releasing material other than their studio albums; between 1981 and 2009 there has been numerous live albums, DVD’s, singles and VHS videos. Boxed sets and compilation albums were first released (in my opinion) as a pre-emptive and safe move by EMI to coincide with the release of 1995’s ‘The X Factor’, with Blaze Bayley on vocals, after Bruce Dickinson left the band in August 1993. It was a rocky time for Iron Maiden in the early to mid 90’s, with no Bruce or Adrian Smith, poor sales from the underachieving CD’s ‘No Prayer for the Dying’ and ‘Fear of the Dark’, and the reception to both Blaze and ‘The X Factor’ was somewhat lukewarm.

Maiden needed a new hook, a new angle, and as a result ‘Best of the Beast’ was released in 1996. Their first and greatest compilation album that not only kept Maiden fans happy, but also steadied the ship and helped recruit new fans as well. Three more best of compilations were released within the years 1999-2005; with the second and third albums being quite unnecessary. A fourth compilation (‘Somewhere Back in Time - The Best Of: 1980-1989’) was released in 2008 to coincide with Iron Maiden’s Somewhere Back in Time tour in the same year, but by this stage these best of albums were starting to wear thin, as the same songs were reappearing time and time again and it was clear that this was becoming more of a quick cash grab than anything else.

So now in 2011, the sequel to the previous compilation has been released, ‘From Fear To Eternity - The Best Of: 1990-2010’. The big difference between this disc and the 1980-1989 one is that this new compilation covers two decades of hits over two CDs where the majority of tracks have not been on a compilation album before. The CDs contains songs from Iron Maiden last 8 studio albums, including their latest disc ‘The Final Frontier’ and gives a new purpose for a proper compilation album, with newbie fans to the band sure to thoroughly enjoy and get into. There are also three live tracks scattered throughout, curiously tracks that originally featured Blaze Bayley on vocals, but here given the live treatment with Bruce; which I feel is in poor taste. If this is a history of Iron Maiden’s musical journey through the decades, then you need to be true to that notion. Yes, Blaze Bayley was the singer for the Irons from 1994 to 1999, but you wouldn’t know it with this compilation.

I must say that from pure variety alone, this best of compilation ranks pretty highly in my book and arguably the best collection of Maiden tracks since 1999’s ‘Ed Hunter’. I say this because we’ve already had too many compilations that include classic songs like “Aces High”, “The Number of the Beast” and “The Trooper” and while those songs kick ass and always will, the Maiden fans want to hear something different for a change, and this new compilation is it.

In all there are 23 tracks over 2 CDs, more than enough to sway the virgin Maiden listener and a few of the greatest hits over the past 20 years that appear on this compilation include “For the Greater Good of God”, “Dance of Death”, “Brave New World”, “Tailgunner” “The Clansman”, “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”, “Sign of the Cross” and low and behold the studio version of “Fear of the Dark”. Lastly, songs from the latest studio album include “El Dorado”, “Coming Home” and “When the Wild Wind Blows”.

So if you want to hear a montage of Maiden’s prowess over the last 20 years, then this compilation is a very nice and well selected snapshot, minus any contribution from Blaze Bayley, which is unfortunate. Other than that, it is a damn fine compilation that is worthy of the name Iron Maiden.

Originally written for (August 2011)

What the hell?! - 25%

Evil_Carrot, November 2nd, 2012

Let me say right off the bat, that on a musical level, I’d grade this much higher. However, being what this actually is, I really can’t. Assuming I counted correctly this is Iron Maiden’s 7th ‘Greatest hits’ album. It’s a follow up to their “Somewhere Back in Time,” best of, which chronicled their career through the 80’s. This one handle’s the 90’s and 2000’s. Which itself is the problem.

The 90’s were a controversial time for maiden fans to begin with. Most consider No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark to be the weakest Dickinson-era albums, with opinions ranging from flat out hatred, to those who consider them good, just not up to par. Adding to the fact that after these albums was the replacement of Bruce with a singer that many consider to be inferior, and the writing of two albums often considered inferior. Now, no Blaze tracks actually appear. Any songs he sang in-studio are represented by a live version with Bruce on vocals. Two of these three “Bruce versions” are from Rock In Rio, and the other was a B-Side, so there’s no previously unreleased tracks to gain fan support.

That being said, all of the essential 90s songs are there. “Fear of the Dark,” although a live version is here, along with “The Clansman,” “Be Quick or Be Dead,” and “Bring Your Daughter…” all appear here, although even though I like “Holy Smoke,” I wouldn’t have included it, and would have replaced it in favor of “Mother Russia.” In fact, many songs here actually don’t seem necessary, like “Tail Gunner,” which myself along with a few reviewers before me have called a poor man’s “Aces High.” And I goddamn love “Afraid to Shoot Strangers,” but I don’t know that I’d include it, since maiden doesn’t really have many other songs like it. Isn’t the point of a best of to interest the uninitiated? One interesting note, is that despite being named “From Fear to Eternity,” obviously a play on “Fear of the Dark” and “From Here to Eternity,” the latter song is not featured on this set.

Anyway, with 2000’s “Brave New World,” Maiden seemed back track toward pleasing fans, and “Dance of Death,” while not as universally applauded, seemed to please most fans. “A Matter of Life and Death” seemed to be something of a love it or hate it album, and “The Final Frontier” seemed fairly well received, this being from my own experiences as a fan, and with other fans. But none of these four albums seem to sit as well with fans as their heyday material. And this is important because it makes one wonder, who this compilation is geared towards? As someone trying to discover a new band, why would you want to purchase an album of the best songs during a controversial band period? You want to put out the best you have to offer for a “Best Of.” Sure it says “The Best Of 1990-2010,” but there’s no disclaimer saying “by the way, this isn’t considered our golden era.” So it SHOULDN’T be for new fans. Maybe if they bought “Somewhere Back in Time,” which by the way, why is that one disc, and this one two? Surely the band’s Golden Era should deserve more coverage. And it’s surely not for fans, who should really have everything on this to begin with. I really don’t understand.

So while this is a fairly solid Best Of for this era of Maiden, I don’t get why it needs represented as a standalone compilation. There’s nothing Here for old fans, and new fans should pass this over in favor of a “Greatest Hits” that at least has the decency to include… you know… their greatest hits. If you’re new to Maiden, Number of the Beast, while not their best by a long shot, is a safe bet, and if you NEED a best of, Best of the Beast or Somewhere Back In Time should do it. Or Ed Hunter if that still exists at a reasonable price. The game isn’t great, but the track listing is the best I’ve seen.

For the Newcomer and Completist Alike... - 90%

reclusiam, August 27th, 2011

This two-disc set from the most respected and influential band in the history of metal compiles the "best" tracks from the band's post-"Seventh Son" material. "From Fear to Eternity" appears to be a companion collection to "Somewhere Back in Time", yet the band is covering two decades here instead of one. And admittedly, if you are a consummate Maiden fan, there is a lot of bang for your buck on this compilation.

Most will agree that the band's best work can be found on their first seven albums. This is a view that I share. But to dismiss everything that came after would be sheer folly, as Iron Maiden continued to produce quality songs after the departure of Adrian Smith and the inclusion of Janick Gers on 1990's "No Prayer for the Dying." Does every album they recorded since "Seventh Son" fire on all cylinders? No. But what Iron Maiden has accomplished with this "Best of" collection is a careful and thoughtful selection of the best material culled from two decades worth of releases.

The band managed to avoid some of the more embarrassing moments from the two albums following Smith's departure, although I would have preferred a more solid track selection from "No Prayer...". For example, "Fates Warning" and the title track would have been better additions than "Tailgunner and "Holy Smoke." The listener will also notice that the band picked the best track from their latest endeavor "The Final Frontier", which was a weak offering compared to it's 2006 predecessor. This song is "Coming Home," which actually has more of a "Chemical Wedding"-era solo Bruce Dickinson vibe about it than the rest of the material here. This is by no means a bad thing.

A close friend of mine lamented the fact that the Blaze Bayley-era material included here is all live, with Bruce on vocals. Well, this doesn't disappoint me terribly, as it adds some new live material which makes this collection more worthwhile. All of the best material from the Dickinson/Smith Reunion album ("Brave New World") and the two following releases are here in full force. The cost of this 2-CD set is no more than that of a single disc, and with the collection comes a deluxe booklet with cover art by Melvyn Grant (though I wish Derek Riggs was still producing art for Maiden's releases).

OK. Is this an essential Iron Maiden "extra"? No. The only essential non-studio release for this band is "Live After Death." This is basically a good pair of mix CDs for a long drive, so you don't have to haul a ton of CDs with you. All of the best stuff post 1990 (minus a few selections) is here in a neat little package. This would be an excellent starting point for newcomers to the band, and it is also something for the Iron Maiden completist. Am I glad I bought it? Absolutely.

Standout Tracks: These Colours Don't Run, Afraid to Shoot Strangers, The Clansman (Live), Coming Home, The Wicker Man, Paschendale, Different World, Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, Blood Brothers, Rainmaker, Fear of the Dark

Tracks that could have been omitted: Holy Smoke, El Dorado, Tailgunner, When the Wild Wind Blows

Tracks that should have been included: Fates Warning, No Prayer for the Dying, Childhood's End, Dream of Mirrors, Fortunes of War, Judgment of Heaven

Recommended for fans of: Metal in general. If you're not a Maiden fan, you should be. Up the Irons!

Can anyone say "Ca$h grab"? - 30%

invaders, June 29th, 2011

What the hell is wrong with this band? They still have a bit of musical credibility and have so much money that they could probably wipe their arses with £50 notes if they wanted to.
But I suppose, toilet paper does run out. So what is the solution to that?
Release yet another Iron Maiden Best of the best of the best of the best of.

I'll start off by stating that I'm not a Maiden-n00b, nor am I a Maiden hater. I do love this band.
Under Overkill, they are my 2nd favourite band, but for about the last 10 years or so, they seem to be content with ripping the fans off.

I mean, there isn't anything in this release that we haven't heard a million times before.
Fear Of The Dark alone has been released on nearly every live album and compilation since the song's inception, as have many more.

Now, it's not that the songs are crap. Far from it. The songs are awesome, It's just that we've heard the same ones over and over and over again.
There are much better songs on the 90's+ albums that didn't make the cut.

The main thing that pisses me off with this band, is that they just keep releasing the same old shit, year in year out and it's getting a bit monotonous to say the least.

But again, Maiden like to spoon feed the n00bs and keep us lifelong fans buying their material with the only thing that makes this release worthwhile; the cover art.
But even this time, the cover art alone cannot save this travesty.
It's good, don't get me wrong, but it ain't no Best Of The Beast or Live After Death is it? No, it fuckin' well isn't!

So in conclusion, don't buy this album. Just relish in the fact that Maiden weren't always so money hungry and were once paving the way for metal.
I just hope they keep releasing quality studio albums and stop releasing compilation and live albums because lets face it, we've bought the same Best of about 15 times now...

A good Maiden compilation? No fucking way! - 85%

LordBelketraya, June 8th, 2011

We've seen a few "Best Of...", "Greatest Hits", "Somewhere In Time". Essential" compilation Maiden albums throughout the years. Most, if not all, are terrible to ill advised. For an excellent band such as Iron Maiden it's simply not fair to you to just capture everything in their illustrious career on one fucking CD or even two for that matter. Especially anything from 1980 to 1988. Anything from those specific years need to be purchased one CD at a time. One of the times I would highly advised someone getting into Maiden and trying to understand why they are legends should get 'Iron Maiden' all the way up to 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son'.

Now this Best Of... consists of material from 1990 to 2010. Otherwise known as the forgettable decade and the decade of redemption. Basically for anyone who isn't really a Maiden diehard this is a wise and good purchase, because there have been some less than stellar stuff from those 20 years to say the least. This compilation hand picks the good shit from those years. It saves you the money of having to buy 'No Prayer For The Dying', 'X Factor' and 'Virtual XI'. While the Bruce Dickinson comeback albums are all quite good to great it still does a commendable job of selecting the memorable tunes from those releases. One of the few Maiden best of that is enjoyable from start to finish. Great to play in the house, at work or on long drives in your car when you don't feel like clicking through your iPod or changing CDs often. I won't get into the songs because we pretty much know them anyway. No new tracks here. Sadly, the Blaze Bayley songs are sung live with Bruce Dickinson only enhancing the fact that perhaps his time with the band was a mistake. I disagree, I think it's the band's fault for those bad albums not Blaze's. But whatever. This is a good 2 CD best of and I recommend it. Besides, the cover art is fucking killer, as usual.