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New Iron Maiden Album : Track by Track

Busted !

Having perversely watched the efforts of an adulterous couple trying to avoid being noticed right after extensively exchanging fluids in the 10 o’ clock Lyon – Paris high speed train bathroom, here I am in Paris. Note the hustle and bustle from the cleaning staff 10 minutes later. There’s nothing cuter than the flush of shame rising upon a lover’s cheek.

Phonebooth To Heaven

EMI showcase

The Final Frontier listening session, a sneak preview of the new Iron Maiden opus, was set at 1 P.M. in the famous EMI building. Unsurprisingly, the building is classy all around with few decorations referring to artists here and there: The Beatles phone booth, Pink Floyd eyes… There is also a great yard where we can sit on the grass to rest or have a drink whilst bathing in the sun. How do they ever manage to work in such a place?!

How do they ever manage to work in such a place ?!

The listening session takes place in a large room with a stage commonly used for conferences. The plan was to listen to the album and then eat at the buffet. As a result of my work ethics, I feel compelled to sacrifice myself despite the fact that I feel repulsed by these overrated cocktail parties yet this afternoon I will recount my experience at one of them thoroughly and in the best way possible. Rule number 1: never lock a group of hungry people in a room with a group of lesser hungry people and a buffet. As it is to be expected, it’s war: the buffet is devastated before the first verse of the first track.

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier : Track by Track

After a brief speech stating that it is a great album and also revealing that the « The Final Frontier » music video will be available on the web by mid-July, the session begins…

1. Satellite 15… The Final Frontier – 8’40 :
The opening to Iron Maiden’s new album is a long experimental intro with drums sometimes tribal sometimes martial and guitars. After a short silence, a few subtle arpeggios and Dickinson’s voice come into play, while Nicko McBrain (drummer) starts a robotic rhythm section with the double bass drum and well… I don’t really know what to think of the result. After yet another silence, (one more out of many on this album) it all becomes clearer as an old Maiden riff and a chorus with easy lyrics to remember starts to play: « The Final Frontieeeer, The Final Frontieeeeer… ».

2. El Dorado – 6’49 :
This first single, which is available to download for free already on the band official website, is neither the big hit of the album nor the most representative. It begins the same way Satellite 1 ended, a punchy guitar along with Nicko McBrain drumming loudly on his cymbals. This kind of firework effect is usually used to conclude a song or a show. Then comes Iron Maiden’s traditional horse-like rhythmic with a riff peering on Megadeth’s heavy/thrash style. The chorus is catchy but not quite memorable and cruelly reminds me of the anecdotal opening tracks on the two previous albums. These tracks seemed to be there to fit the form of the album itself rather than the result of any kind of inspiration. Another habit of Maiden’s on this album is that the song often ends the same way it started.

3. Mother Of Mercy – 5’20 :
A slightly medieval atmosphere, like a warrior’s hymn, emanates from this track which begins, as many more to come on this new album, with a clean sounding part, as in the prelude of « No More Lies » on Dance of Death. After some guitar riff explosions, here comes the same verse again, played in a louder guitar version, and once more, the inevitable « click clock » horse-like riff. The chorus is another easy one to remember aka – the song’s title – Dickinson seems to be literally « throwing » his voice to reach the higher notes.

4. Coming Home – 5’52 :
The power ballad of the album is similar to « Out Of The Shadows » on A Matter Of Life And Death. However, this song is catchier as the chorus is good and the subtle keyboard makes a sensible appearance. Note also that there is a really nice lover’s solo.

5. The Alchemist – 4’25 :
We get quickly into the thick of things with this plain track. No intro, no bridge. Only verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, verse, chorus. End of story. It is a traditional track with Maiden’s rhythmic riffs and Nicko McBrain’s signature cymbal punching.

We are a third of the way through and all Maiden’s gimmicks have been distinguished already. However, this album seems different. These tracks were meant to be catchy but they eventually turn out to be average… At this moment, I think to myself « wait, that’s weird, I didn’t remember as many short tracks… ». My memory only slightly drifted away mostly because of the flood of never-ending tracks that struck me when reading the track-listing.

6. Isle Of Avalon – 9’06 :
Iron Maiden demonstrate their talent for the crescendo intro with « Isle Of Avalon » : at first the guitar plays an Arabic motif by itself, then along with the same double quaver playing on the hi-hat as on « El Dorado ». The bass drum then comes in discreetly. Following the example of « The Longest Day » on the former album, the drums really show up like powerful explosions and a couple of rounds on the toms producing an indisputably dramatic effect. Overall, it is a good track that follows in the tradition of the epic songs on « A Matter Of Life And Death ».

7. Starblind – 7’48 :
After another clean guitar/keyboards part followed by silence, the English band moves on to a heavy and lively part with a subtle soulful melody. The great chorus – slightly speed melodic – alternates between high and low vocal lines.

8. The Talisman – 9’03 :
With an acoustic guitar in the background, almost like an old magician, Bruce Dickinson tells us a story with an old man’s voice, creating a mixed feeling of comfort and disturbance. Then the prelude comes to an end, slowing down to announce a dimming silence and crashing into a new heavy start. It’s getting a bit old and by now we know the drill. The Talisman is nonetheless a great track. These 9 minutes are a succession of intense moments, with the song’s catchy guitar riffs, and we are favorable to the « woooooohoooohooo ».

9. The Man Who Would Be King – 8’26 :
For this track, of which the title reminds me of Blaze Baley’s album names, Iron Maiden play the surprise card with… a clean sound intro. Once again. This prelude ends again in a short break before switching to a livelier song. Half-way through, the band goes into a break which does not puzzle us with its change of tempo, much like the unconvincing twist of a Hollywood movie. Note the pleasant guitar solo. The song comes to an end in an interesting way with a slow and progressive fade out, a true epilogue for this heavy moment of bravery.

10. When The Wild Wind Blows – 10’59 :

Some journalists, including your humble servant, let out an « Oh no! » when they announce the last track and its duration. The fact is that the end of « The Man Who Would Be King » would have been a great conclusion, having put up with these 4 mini-epic tales to move on to another never-ending track, the longest of the album, well it doesn’t make you feel like listening to it. Needless to say, the prelude is once more made of keyboard and clean guitars. Dickinson’s singing is once again in the narrative style. After the incredible suspense provoked by the ‘nth silence, the track begins and the guitars carry on with the prelude theme in an electric version. It is pretty standard yet remains efficient. « When The Wild Wind Blows » is the merriest song on the album. It seems impossible not to jump up and down when you hear it. After 11 minutes and some forgivable auto-plagiarism, this title ends in perfect symmetry, with a couple of arpeggios leaving the way to a windy sound.

And nothing left to eat after that, you sponger assholes.

Opinion on the spot:
I’m sick of these journalists who constantly begin their comments with « It was only a first listening session, thus too difficult to give an opinion, a more in-depth session would be required to really reveal the subtle BLABLABLA… ». We know, you moron, that’s precisely what it’s all about. So here it is; an opinion with a total and responsible lack of retrospective at the end of this session. But be cautious because this was only the first listening session, thus… ahem… well here it is.

A new era has come; Maiden don’t know how to write hits anymore. Maiden are no longer comfortable or sharp, as shown with the wheezy and anecdotal tracks « El Dorado » and « The Alchemist ». Paradoxically, the never-ending tracks turn out to be catchier ones. They are much better constructed and less redundant than those on the previous album. They form great epic songs with a succession of great riffs, great melodies, great choruses and smart twists which wouldn’t shatter all those who are impervious to progressive patterned breaks. Nevertheless, this great step forward is dried up by this redundancy because of the way the tracks are written. After the fifth clean intro, you cannot help but smile. You just have to deal with it; today Maiden is a progressive metal band – albeit a good one.

The album is out on August 16th 2010

NB : Many thanks to Pierre (Athome)

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  • I think a bit like the main reviewer, after one brief listening; Après une brève écoute, je penche vers une conclusion similaire à celle de la critique; J’écoute du Maiden depuis 1980, mon opus préféré est Piece Of Mind, un chef d’oeuvre où la magie opère du début à la fin, ce qui n’est pas le cas ici. Comme tous les autres groupes qui prennent de l’âge, le DON MAGIQUE de créer est perdu quelque part; la rage de produire de l’art est dissous dans des clichés et les mauvaises habitudes accumulés par ses membres, comme ACDC avec Black Ice, Comme Ozzy Osbourne et ses précédents disques (quoique le dernier surprend quand même, mais pour cela, il doit changer ses musiciens, pas con l’Ozzy). Judas Priest, The Cult etc. Même Led Zeppelin, mais pas Pink Floyd (The Wall et Final Cut, c’était ASSEZ différent du reste). Anyway. RIEN dans ceci n’est à la hauteur de ce qui était promis: un album enregistré dans le mood et le même endroit que Piece, Powerslave et Somewhere. Tous les clichés de Maiden y sont, les intros identiques, les silences… et Bruce qui chante pour chanter, mais très bien il faut le dire. Vraiment, allez réécouter vos vieux classiques, Phantom Of The Opera, Children Of The Damned, Revelations, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner etc. et vous reviendrez nous dire que The Final Frontier, c’est pas du Maiden dessouffffflé…


  • Per usual, Maiden’s new albums get wildly good reviews and someone have to twat one out, be different, disagree and write a lame one.

    Maiden has always done what it’s wanted to – and I’d assume that at this point they aren’t worried about « hits » for radio or anyone else. This band is a different breed: they write for the music’s integrity.

    I look forward with great respect for their past work, and watching where this band progresses. They have never been one to rest on past achievements, lay on their laurels or cater to the industry trends. They continue to make great music while nu metal and emo bands turn out more and more incoherent, de-evolved noise.

    My guess is the author is not a musician, and is another of the whiny minority that desires Maiden to be a « classic » band that never changes or evolves. Too bad for him. They continue to be the best at what they do – and no successor is even on the horizon.

    Up the Irons.


  • Woh! followed a link. I had no idea this was a french website.


  • Eddie The Great dit :

    Were you in a bad mood? LOL


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