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Better than you think - 74%

raZe, March 5th, 2004

This is regarded as trash by most people, but I can't find it in myself to agree. When I first heard the album, I was appalled, I really hated it. But as years went by, I started to like it, and dammit, it really isn't that bad.

The production is a bit thin and weak (Steve, you can't produce!), though better than on X-Factor, so it's tolerable. It opens up with 'Futureal', a great adrenaline-pumping song. Not, of course, in league with openers such as 'Aces High' and 'Moonchild', but still a very solid effort. Catchy and to the point, actually. Which is not the case with the next song, which I dub "The Epitome of Repetitiveness". Wow, even the word itself is repetitive! 'The Angel and the Gambler' (see, even the title reveals some of the repetitiveness, contaning two the's) isn't such a bad song, but when the same line is repeated 662 times (sorry guys, a few more would make the song outstanding, now it's just lame), it gets truly boring. It's a mid-paced 70's style hard rock song, and catchy too, but man do you fall asleep! Then we have 'Lighting Strikes Twice', which is in fact a great song. It begins calmly, like every bleedin' track on the X, but this one is very nice to listen to. It quickly pacens up (pacens up, is that English? I'm not sure. You get the idea anyway, ha!)The chorus is fun and repetitive and fun, and that's good enough for me. The masterpiece on this album is 'The Clansman'. Do you like Braveheart? Do you like freedom? Then you'll love this song. It's this album's epic (every Maiden album needs one, and BNW even had 7 of them!), and everything from vocal lines to riffs and leads and drums, makes it stand out. I love shouting "FREEDOM!!!" the hundred times it's repeated during the song, and at last year's Maiden concert, this song along with The Clairvoyant was the greatest moments! Yes, I love it. 'When Two Worlds Collide' reminds me of 'Lighting Strikes Twice', in that it starts out just as calmly, and....wait, doesn't half of Maiden's 90's output do that? Well, I connect the two all the time for some reason. Another great song (that's three in a row, you filthy unbelievers!). I really like the dreamy mood in this one.

Of course, after a very nice hat-trick, things tend to calm down. And not only does it calm down, the quality drops down 200%. 'The Educated Fool' has a nice enough intro, but who in the midst of Lametown, UK came up with the chorus? Pure garbage that chorus is. And overall quite a boring song. And it's not as if 'Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger' remedies this in any way. Another calm intro, before there's actually a nice mid-paced part. 5 minutes into the song, however, Maiden decides to take influences from BLUEGRASS and make maybe the worst moment in all of Maiden history! Ok, so I'm not sure if bluegrass is the correct term, but when I hear that section I think of rednecks and town idiots dancing and prancing and spitting and drinking. Truly awful, then. The last song is 'Como Estais Amigos'. It's a ballad, and a great one too! I like playing this on my guitar (because I suck, and this one is easy enough for me to play, that's why!), and I love the chorus, not to mention the rest of the song.

Overall, it is worth buying this album. 5 out if 8 great songs does not make an album suck, in my opinion. Of course, there are few Maiden albums worse than this, but if you have the other ones, don't exclude this one. If you live through the gruelling pain when you're listening to it the first five times, you'll learn to appreciate it, I'm sure of it. Tata.