Category Archives: Iron Maiden

IRON MAIDEN – The Final Frontier

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier [Mission Edition] (2010, Universal Music Enterprises)

1. “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier” … 8:40
2. “El Dorado” … 6:48
3. “Mother of Mercy” … 5:20
4. “Coming Home” … 5:52
5. “The Alchemist” … 4:28
6. “Isle of Avalon” … 9:06
7. “Starblind” … 7:48
8. “The Talisman” … 9:03
9. “The Man Who Would Be King” … 8:28
10. “When the Wild Wind Blows” … 11:00

Band:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar
Janick Gers – Guitar
Steve Harris – Bass, Keyboards
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Producer: Kevin Shirley & Steve Harris

Um, yeah. This “Mission Edition”? It’s basically the album in a tin instead of a jewel case with the band’s logo and the title of the album being absent from the album art and the CD artwork is different as well. So if you haven’t decided on which version of the album to pick up, I suggest you save a few bucks and stick with the “regular” version. There are some bonus features which you can unlock by going to http://www.ironmaiden.com/bonus and putting the disc in your computer but I’m not a fan of stuff like that. When I buy a special edition, I want bonus tracks not access to games, photos and videos on a website (at least put all of that ON the disc!).

By the way, I guess the idea of this “Mission Edition” tin is we’re looking out of a spaceship’s window. I initially tried to scan the booklet inside the tin case but it didn’t turn out so well:

The Final Frontier is an album that seems to have many Maiden fans divided. When you’ve got such a large following and have been a successful group for 30+ years, every new release is going to be analyzed, questioned and compared to the “classic” catalog. Before this album arrived in the mail, I read many reviews (from critics and actual fans) stating this album was the sound of a tired, repetitive and boring band. I read other reviews saying it’s a top three or top five Maiden album that is full of exciting music and that the band is admirably blazing new paths and taking chances with their music. Hm.

Despite owning the majority of Maiden’s catalog, I must confess I’m not a huge fan. Sure, I like them, but they wouldn’t crack the Top 20 as far as my favorite bands go. I’ve always thought many (not all) of their songs could be repetitive and their albums tend to drag. That said, I was still anticipating this release because they are legends and I recognize their contributions to heavy metal. I’ve been following the band since the Brave New World reunion album and the digital release of “El Dorado” sounded really promising, so I wasn’t going to stop following them now.

I guess one common complaint (or praise) I’m running across with other people is the progressive nature of this album. Well, other than the earliest records, they’ve always sounded like progressive metal to me. Especially since Brave New World, so I’m not sure why this is shocking people now. Someone put it best when they said Iron Maiden is no longer a heavy metal act and they are now a progressive hard rock act. This is true but I’ve felt that was the case for years. Anyone that turns in a 10-track album that clocks in around 80 minutes has to be progressive!

Still, they can churn out some really good rockers. “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier” is a great number (after we get through that way too long intro, seriously, they should’ve cut this into two different tracks) and “El Dorado” is the album’s bright spot, it’s really catchy and the most straightforward rocker of the bunch. Both of these songs stick with you. The rest of the album is mostly made up of mid-tempo rockers that all seem to have slow building intros. Again, standard Iron Maiden, in my opinion. In the middle of all of this is “Coming Home”, a ballad I’ve grown quite fond of.

So is this a classic Iron Maiden album? I don’t know, I’ll leave that up to the hardcore fanbase to decide but I do know that it’s a really good album and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. It will probably my my Top 10 list for 2010 after all is said and done, if that tells you anything.

Highlights: “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier”, “El Dorado”, “Coming Home”, “The Alchemist”, “Isle of Avalon”, “The Talisman”

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden

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IRON MAIDEN – Brave New World

Iron Maiden – Brave New World (2000, Columbia Records/Portrait Records)

1. “The Wicker Man” … 4:38
2. “Ghost of the Navigator” … 6:50
3. “Brave New World” … 6:19
4. “Blood Brothers” … 7:14
5. “The Mercenary” … 4:42
6. “Dream of Mirrors” … 9:21
7. “The Fallen Angel” … 4:01
8. “The Nomad” … 9:06
9. “Out of the Silent Planet”… 6:26
10. “The Line Between Love & Hate” … 8:27

Band:
Bruce Dickinson – Lead Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Janick Gers – Guitar
Steve Harris – Bass, Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Producer: Steve Harris & Kevin Shirley

This was my very first Iron Maiden album and over time it has become one of my favorites as well. Initially, I wasn’t much of a fan the album. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting, but it just seemed boring to me. Another issue for me was/is that I’ve always had a hard time getting into the themes that Iron Maiden uses. Fantasy stuff is cool, but I generally favor songs and bands that write about things I can relate to. Still, it’s a minor quibble because I’m quite proud and happy that Iron Maiden has continued to successfully wave the banner of heavy metal high in the 2000s.

Anyway, this was the comeback album for Maiden. After the abysmal sales and harsh reviews for 1998’s Virtual XI, singer Blaze Bayley was out by early ’99 and Bruce Dickinson was back in after leaving the group in ’93 to go solo.  Also rejoining the group was guitarist Adrian Smith (who left sometime in 1990). So, for the first time, we had not two but THREE guitarists in Iron Maiden as Janick Gers, Smith’s replacement, stayed on. The band ran through a successful reunion tour, release another greatest hits album and then set about to record Brave New World.

Needless to say, the album was a major success as Iron Maiden was one of the few acts signed to famed A&R man John Kalodner’s revived Portrait Records label and this album would eventually go gold, also proving Maiden to be the only successful act for the label’s short-lived return.

Listening to the album now, I think I see why I didn’t care for it at the time. It’s a very melodic, epic slow album. Not that there aren’t a few rockers, but most of these songs are slow-tempo and make use of keyboards a lot. So at that time, I was wanting balls-to-the-wall heavy metal. Perhaps an album full of “Run to the Hills”, “Can I Play With Madness?”, “2 Minutes to Midnight” or “The Trooper” was what I was looking for it. Nothing here matches the urgency and punch of those songs, but the album comes pretty close with “The Wicker Man” and “Brave New World”.

The numbers have a slower pace and are less metallic, but this is still a must have Maiden album, IMO.

According to Adrian Smith, “The Nomad”, “Dream of Mirrors” and “The Mercenary” were songs originally written to Virtual XI.

Highlights: “The Wicker Man”, “Ghost of the Navigator”, “Blood Brothers”, “Brave New World”, “The Mercenary”, “The Nomad”, “Out of the Silent Planet”

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden

IRON MAIDEN – Killers

Iron Maiden – Killers [Enhanced Edition] (1998, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)
Original Release: 1981, Capitol Records

1. “The Ides of March” … 1:45
2. “Wrathchild” … 2:54
3. “Murders in the Rue Morgue” … 4:19
4. “Another Life” … 3:22
5. “Genghis Khan” … 3:06
6. “Innocent Exile” … 3:53
7. “Killers” … 5:01
8. “Prodigal Son” … 6:11
9. “Purgatory” … 3:21
10. “Twilight Zone” … 2:34
11. “Drifter” … 4:48

Band:
Paul Di’Anno – Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass guitar, Backing Vocals
Clive Burr – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Dennis Stratton – Guitar

This the second and final album to feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals and I like it much better than their debut. Iron Maiden had some punk influence, but I enjoy Killers much more because it sees Iron Maiden settling into a much more typical NWOBHM sound (which isn’t a bad thing). The album still shows the beginnings of the galloping metal the band would produce with Bruce Dickinson though. The addition of guitarist Adrian Smith (replacing Dennis Stratton) greatly helps bring the band to the next level as well.

Though I like Di’Anno’s vocals, I agree with what the band his vocals were not and would not fit in with the musical direction they wanted to go in. The signs of a mismatch were showing on this album, most glaringly on “Prodigal Son”. He doesn’t offer up a bad performance on the album, it’s just a case of not fitting in anymore (he was a great fit for their more raucous debut though).

To be honest, I don’t have much more to say about this album because I don’t have much of an emotional connection to Iron Maiden (and certainly not to the Di’Anno albums), but it’s definitely a classic metal release and I recommend it over the band’s debut for anyone who is curious about pre-Dickinson Iron Maiden.

Produced by: Martin Birch

Highlights: “Wrathchild”, “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “Another Life”, “Genghis Khan”, “Prodigal Son”, “Purgatory”, “Twilight Zone”

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden
www.pauldianno.com
www.myspace.com/diannothebeast

IRON MAIDEN – The Number of the Beast

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast [Enhanced Edition] (1998, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)
Original Release: 1982, Capitol Records

Track Listing:
1. “Invaders” (3:22)
2. “Children of the Damned” (4:34)
3. “The Prisoner” (6:00)
4. “22 Acacia Avenue” (6:34)
5. “The Number of the Beast” (4:49)
6. “Run to the Hills” (3:50)
7. “Gangland” (3:47)
8. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (7:11)

Band:
Bruce Dickinson – Lead Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass, Backing Vocals
Clive Burr – Drums

Not only is this Iron Maiden’s brightest moment, IMO, but it’s also one of the greatest metal albums ever released. As good as the Di’Anno albums are, Bruce Dickinson’s arrival as lead singer took the band to even greater heights.

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was my favorite Maiden album (and my first purchase, used), but once I heard this, it blew it out of the water.

Every song here is a heavy metal classic, though if pressed for an absolute favorite I’d have to go with the haunting “Children of the Damned”. Really not much else to say about this album that hasn’t been said throughout the years. A MUST HAVE for any true metalhead.

Produced by: Martin Birch

Highlights: The whole album

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden

IRON MAIDEN – Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden [Enhanced Edition] (1998, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)
Original Release: 1980, Capitol Records

Track Listing:
1. “Prowler” … 3:53
2. “Sanctuary” … 3:13
3. “Remember Tomorrow” … 5:28
4. “Running Free” … 3:16
5. “Phantom of the Opera” … 7:07
6. “Transylvania” [instrumental] … 4:06
7. “Strange World” … 5:42
8. “Charlotte the Harlot” … 4:12
9. “Iron Maiden” … 3:36

Band:
Paul Di’Anno – Lead Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Dennis Stratton – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass, Backing Vocals
Clive Burr – Drums

Produced by: Will Malone

Years ago, I went nuts and snatched up *most* of Maiden’s albums, specifically the 1998 enhanced versions. Before Bruce Dickinson, there was Paul Di’Anno, who brings something totally different to the table than Bruce’s flying vocals do. Paul’s voice is rougher and gritty and it fits the heavy metal played here, which is more punk-influenced than the band’s later progressive sounds.

Bruce is THE Maiden singer, but Paul does a fine job and this is still a classic in Maiden’s catalog.

The enhanced version features some cool stuff once you pop it in your PC: music videos, album art, lyrics, tour dates for the specific album… All kinds of neat stuff.

Highlights: “Prowler”, “Remember Tomorrow”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Transylvania”, “Charlotte the Harlot”

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden
www.pauldianno.com
www.myspace.com/diannothebeast

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