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Aiming At The Same Target - 64%

Sweetie, September 14th, 2021

Because it worked pretty well the last time, that means we should do it again, right? Hopefully this trend doesn’t continue. With a couple weeks since Iron Maiden’s latest release, it’s pretty obvious that I’m far from the only one with the popular opinion that Senjutsu is way too damn long. Though that’s somewhat the elephant in the room, I do find a decent amount of this to be very worthwhile. With that said, a decent amount of it also is not worthwhile. This is what the layman calls a mixed bag, I suppose?

For the most part, the general strengths lie in the first disc. “Lost In A Lost World” and the previously released single “The Writing On The Wall” not only showcase exactly what Steve Harris and co. have been doing wonderfully for years, but they’re also a step away from the tradition. Ever since the latter came out, I had hoped that the entire album would have this western-tinged feel with acoustic guitars and the dry atmosphere. Too bad, because that execution was wonderful, and was pulled off very well. The general progression and upbeat feel is wonderful. Looking at disc two, “Death Of The Celts” is the standout in the epic pack of long tracks. All of the instrumentation actually serves a solid purpose and fits well with the lyrics and general wavy delivery. The phases that it runs through are all wonderful, and never does it feel forced or overcooked.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the rest of disc two does much of anything for me. For the most part, it’s a lot of rehashed things that range from fine to just flat out boring. There are good ideas, such as the suspenseful tactic of “The Parchment,” but man did that one ever dry up after the first five minutes or so. Disc one has some of this, though less prominent. The opening title track is potentially the most underwhelming track on the entire run, and opening on that was a bad sign. At least songs like “The Time Machine” and “Stratego” have the same energy that made Iron Maiden so special in their time, with galloping leads and beefy chops. They just didn’t stand out as much in the realm of memorability.

There are some notable things about Senjutsu as a whole which help smooth over some of the spotty songwriting. No Iron Maiden record has had this much synth that actually takes foreground since Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, and I really dug the tone of those themselves. Maybe I’ve overlooked it before, but its presence seems higher this time around. The rhythms as they are also just help with some of the run-on solos. To the opposite end, though this was inevitable, Bruce’s age shows more significantly here than any other record. Somewhat goes without saying, but this is the first time that I think his vocals actually bogged things down in some areas; even The Book Of Souls really didn’t sport this issue, but I’m a bit more partial to that one. Perhaps a blasphemous statement for some, but it can’t be overlooked.

Something I’ve always appreciated was that the band always took their time to crank out a new album instead of releasing a new one every other year. Some are still going to jive better than others, and while this was a good enough release, I can’t say it’s exactly strong. Obviously I think the next album should cut back a bit on the time; quality over quantity. But I also would be thrilled if Bruce and co. completely shifted things the way they did with “The Writing On The Wall” and gave us an entire album like that.