Iron Maiden / The Final Frontier

The Final Frontier

Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band from Leyton in east London, formed in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris. Since their inception, the group have released a collective total of thirty-one albums: fifteen studio albums; seven live albums; four EPs; and five compilations.

Pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden achieved success during the early 1980s and, after several lineup changes, the band went on to release a series of platinum and gold albums. These include the US platinum-selling landmarks The Number of the Beast in 1982, Piece of Mind in 1983, Powerslave in 1984, the acclaimed live album Live After Death in 1985, Somewhere in Time in 1986, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in 1988. Their second most recent studio effort, A Matter of Life and Death, was released in 2006 and peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200 and at number 4 in the UK and is also one of the few rock albums to be certified platinum in India. Their newest album, The Final Frontier, was released on August 13, 2010 in some countries.The album will be released in the rest of the world August 16,2010.[1]

As one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, Iron Maiden have sold over 75 million records under EMI and a total of over 100 million records worldwide with almost no radio or television support.[2][3][4][5] The band won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002,[6] and were also inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California during their United States tour in 2005. As of October 2009, the band has played just over 2000 live shows during their career. For the past 30 years, the band has been supported by their famous mascot, “Eddie the Head“, who has appeared on almost all of their album and single covers, as well their live shows.

The Final Frontier is British heavy metal band Iron Maiden‘s fifteenth studio album, released on August 13, 2010 in Germany and Australia, and August 16 worldwide[1][2]. At 76 minutes and 34 seconds, it is the band’s longest studio album to date. It is their first album since the release of A Matter of Life and Death in 2006, the longest gap to date between two consecutive Iron Maiden studio albums. The North American leg of their tour in support of the album started in Dallas, Texas on June 9[3], with a European tour beginning in Dublin on July 30, an Australian tour beginning in Melbourne on February 23, 2011[4], and further dates to be announced.[5] Melvyn Grant, a long-time contributor to the band’s artwork, created the cover art for the album.

Satellite 15….The Final Frontier—-With a huge bass line, some nice space sounds and a killer drum intro from McBain, release No. 15 is well on its way. This is a different sound coming from this band as this huge long introduction would leave you guessing forever if you had to choose based on this intro alone. When you finally get a vocal at the 2:30 mark, Dickinson sounds a bit misplaced and odd….more talking and moaning his way through his opening lines….finally, the song begins to open up a bit more…but this is just really odd for me. The guitars are so subdued and held at bay…where is the power and the muscular arrangements? Finally at the 5 minute mark, the pretention disappears and we are again in the land of The Iron Maiden…the latter 1/4 of this song is just what I nneded…I can tell you the first half will probably never be heard by me again.

El Dorado—-Ballsy from the very onset, the guitars that open up the track are huge…..quieting a bit to allow for the trademark Harris bass line and the Maiden signature sound, this pleases me to no end. I have not heard familiar riffs like this in quite sometime. Bruce enters with his vocal…although he sounds a bit constrained, the voice is still full of golden moments and nice histrionics. This is classic Maiden…does this stack up with the classics…eventually it will…at this point, it is just a huge pleasure for me to hear Harris go crazy with his bass line…feeling like I’m coming home.

Mother Of Mercy—-Again, this sounds so wonderfully familiar and right that it is hard to find fault with any part of it. Bruce delivers a pretty sedate vocal…reminding me of songs from his back solo catalog. He rises well to the occasion, giving his chords a nice workout. The overall delivery and arrangement is a bit pretentious and overblown…the band sounds the best when they play…all of the atmospheric crap is not necessary…just give me some straight forward Harris inspired Metal. The chorus… KICK ASS!!!

Coming Home—-Coming right out of the gate with a nice deep bass line sound and the classic Maiden atmosphere, Bruce is not far behind…although the gentleness of this record at times really gets on my nerves. This is a bit overblown and built upon to many ‘movements’…just give me some Heavy Metal already. Bruce sounds pretty damn great on this track…his voice is still in good shape…even though at times you know he is straining, it still comes across as real and true.

The Alchemist—-This is a bit more acceptable for me…the high pitched leads are really nice to hear, the galloping bass line is not far behind and the music actually keeps the same pitch and volume even when the vocal enters the mix. This is perhaps, thus far my favorite track on this release. This is straight forward, energetic and delivered with a certain urgency that gets my blood flowing…nice!

Isle Of Avalon—-At almost 10 minutes in length, I was prepared for a lot of introduction pretention…this was really not the case. Harris enters with his bass and Bruce enters with his vocal shortly thereafter….allowing most of the rest of the band to play quietly in the backdrop. There are some nice sonic effects that happen throughout the song….giving you that whole space vibe that I guess forms the concept for this release. It is quite a bit before the rest of the band is really allowed to join forces….when this does happen, you are deep in the land of familiar Maiden. The build-up to the onslaught was wasteful and irritating…this is what we want guys….give us a record that rocks out without all of the quasi-atmospheric bulklshit…this is supposed to be Heavy Metal not Yes or ELP!!!

Starblind—-At this point in the release, the songs are all beginning to blend together and everything sounds like everything else!….I never though I would say this about one of my all time favorite bands, but this release..for me…is not very good. The song is nice when it opens up, but it seems like every band member is playing with a rope around their neck that pulls tight if they play to hard or with too much passion. This is a disappointment to me…I waited years for this?

The Talisman—-Christ, is everyone in this band on Prozac now or what…these gentle little pretty guitar introductions are ridiculous…the sing songy delivery from Bruce gets on my nerves and makes me wonder who the hell cut his balls off. This is terrible…I do not like this…even when the song opens up, you forget the high points because the low points are glaringly in your face and full of bullshit. I am really upset at this point…what happened to my band? The aggressive nature of the song that finally arrives at the two-minute mark is barely enough to save the song after all of the nursery rhyme style singing of the first two minutes. This is acceptable, but why do you have to dig through shit to get to the gold.

The Man Who Would Be King—-Why is this band suddenly intent on making pretty music…what the f*%k…this is maddening. where is the power, where are the chords that formed an age of Metal across the world…where is the staunch belief in Heavy Metal…where is the Metal….it is few and far between!!! The song manages to create some classic sounds of yesteryear, but even the sound itself seems contrived and less than resolute….the usual huge drums are muted and the enthusiasm seems to be missing. This is not a great release!

When the Wild Wind Blows—-Clocking in at 11 minutes in length, this is a redux of the opening track…with different words but the same basic tune kept in tact. this is quiet and low…lacking in energy and vitality…it takes forever for the song to really open up. how can this band expect to play this release to a live audience without it falling asleep. Even when the song opens up, it comes across with a nursery rhyme style melody line and lyrics that are over played and sound just like the last release. Bruce, Steve and Co… have left me cold and empty.

*** out of 5


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