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Album Review

Metal Monday: Iron Maiden's New Album - Is it Worth Buying?

October 26, 2015

Growing up, my father was a huge fan of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and 80's Metal, and he carried that love into his adult life.  He particularly liked bands such as Judas Priest, Triumph,  Dokken, Van Halen, and Deep Purple.  My father's passion and love for this music infected me from an early age, and I still have vivid memories from my childhood of my dad and I jamming out to some of his favorite bands and a few others. Of these bands, my favorite was definitely Iron Maiden.  Iron Maiden have solidified themselves as one of metal's most legendary bands with their over-the-top theatrics, amazing musicianship and story-telling lyrics.  It's no wonder their music has stood the test of time as they continue to sell out stadiums all over the world and make new music.  So is this new stuff any good? Is Iron Maiden's new album worth buying? Well you're in luck, as I gave the new album a listen and I'm here to tell you either "yay" or "nay".

Iron Maiden's most recent album, The Book of Souls, is their latest effort since 2010's The Final Frontier.  The first time I saw the album artwork, I knew it was classic Iron Maiden -  like every other cover, it features the band's mascot, Eddie.   Just like the album cover, the sound and songs are quintessential Maiden.  However, the album is different from your typical Iron Maiden album - the album is 90 minutes long and is filled with 11 songs all longer than 5 minutes.  Now that they're an established band, and they decide that it's okay to be pretentious at this point.  However, some of these lengthy 8-minute-plus songs overstay their welcome,  most notably the opening track, "If Eternity Should Fail." The track opens opens with some synthesizer and horns.  The horns are almost Mariachi-like and quiet frankly annoying.  The closing track, "Empire of the Clouds," opens up with pianos and strings and it just doesn't seem much like Iron Maiden.  These long eight-minute-plus songs seem to go for a sense of epicness, which we've seen from Iron Maiden in the past; however, it doesn't quite work this time. These long epic songs fail to keep your attention and, after a while, you start questioning if the song is almost over or if you should just skip the track.

Nonetheless, this album does have all the aspects we've come to love from Iron Maiden.  Tracks like "Speed of Light," "The Great Unknown," "When the River Runs Deep," "Death or Glory," and "Tears of a Clown" give us that strong musical skill and narrative lyrics that is classic Iron Maiden.  Even though the chorus of "Speed of Light" is pretty weak and you can hear the aging in lead singer Bruce Dickinson's voice, the track's instrumentation save the track and make you jam hard.  These tracks save the album from being another defunct album put out by an old metal band and give the band an even broader repertoire of songs to play live.

So the million dollar question arises.  Is The Book of Souls worth the purchase? Is it worth listening to?  When it comes to listening to the album, it's an obvious yay.   If you're a die-hard Iron Maiden or Heavy Metal fan ,buy the album, but if you're barely getting into the band or the genre, it's a nay.  Even though these long tracks get boring and fail to fulfill the band's need to make an epic impact, the other songs, including the two ballads, save the album and definitely give the album strength.  The highlights of the album is when Iron Maiden sticks to what they are known for and what makes them so popular.  When they stray away from their classic aesthetic and use synthesizers/pianos, strings, or horns, they fail to live up the greatness of their previous work.  Overall, it's a solid album, proving to be a lot better than the more recent stuff that Iron Maiden has been releasing and, even though it does have it's clear weak spots, the strong points of the album really make the album great.  In all, I'd give it a sold 6/10, a definite buy for fans and worth a listen for anyone.

- Matthew "Sprinkles" Atwell

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