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Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls Staff Review

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Released by: Parlophone Records

Release Date: September 4th, 2015

Genre: Heavy Metal

Links: https://www.ironmaiden.com

Line Up:

Steve Harris
Dave Murray
Adrian Smith
Bruce Dickinson
Nicko McBrain
Janick Gers

Tracklist:

Disc 1

1. If Eternity Should Fail (Dickinson) 8:28
2. Speed Of Light (Smith/ Dickinson) 5:01
3. The Great Unknown (Smith/ Harris) 6:37
4. The Red And The Black (Harris) 13:33
5. When The River Runs Deep (Smith/ Harris) 5:52
6. The Book Of Souls (Gers/ Harris) 10:27

Disc 2

7. Death Or Glory (Smith/ Dickinson) 5:13
8. Shadows Of The Valley (Gers/ Harris) 7:32
9. Tears Of A Clown (Smith/ Harris) 4:59
10. The Man Of Sorrows (Murray/ Harris) 6:28
11. Empire Of The Clouds (Dickinson) 18:01

 

Normally we don’t feature multiple writers opinions on one article, but being that this particular album encompasses the legend that is Iron Maiden and their new record “The Book of Souls”, the band’s now 16th studio album and first double CD release, we decided to give our staff a chance to pick one song to review, to give the reader a more concise and thorough collaboration of everybody’s love and respect for these UK Metal icons. After all one does not simply listen to a Maiden record, it’s a bloody Event!!! Say no more, enjoy and Up the Irons!!!

if eternity should failIt’s been a while since I have looked forward to an album with as much anticipation as Iron Maiden’s new one Book of Souls. So much so that my boss let me review two songs!!!

If Eternity Should Fail starts our Maiden voyage. The standard “maiden riffage” we have all gown to know and love carries this song. The trio of guitars trading solos and harmonizing in a way that only Iron Maiden knows how to do, drawing you further into being fully engulfed in a new yet familiar place. Someone turned up the bass finally.

Confirming, once again, that Steve Harris is not of this planet. Nothing human is that awesome. Maiden’s lyrics have matured. Instead of the traditional storytelling al la Eddie, Bruce proceeds to provide the fans with a social commentary advising us that: “it’s all in your mind”. Hard to beat an opener like Aces High – that just celebrated its 31st birthday this week. This isn’t a competition though – 6/10    — by Marianne Jacobsen

Speed of LightLet’s face it, Iron Maiden don’t need to release singles, if you asked them I’m pretty sure they’d say they couldn’t care one way or the other.  The days have long since past where these guys await a chart position with any kind of eagerness.

So single or contractual obligation, Speed Of Light is an inspired choice to herald the return of the greatest heavy metal band of all time.  A Smith/Dickinson composition, a partnership that brought us gems like Flight Of Icarus and 2 Minutes To 2 Midnight, this is plain and simply classic Maiden.  Introducing itself with a no frills riff, the track quickly unleashes all the vital elements that embodies their sound.
 
Harris’s galloping bass and McBrain’s unique skin bashing are still an almighty powerhouse.  The songs tempo may be predictably traditional and guitar solos textbook, but would you want it any other way.  But without doubt the cherry on the cake is Dickinson, sounding as good as he ever did, you could be listening to him on Piece Of Mind or Powerslave here.  And trust me, you wont be able to get this chorus out of your head, nor will you want to.  Five minutes and two seconds of brilliance. – 10/10    — by Brian Boyle
 The Great Unknown
My luck with the number 3 continues with The Great Unknown. This song takes me back to a time when albums like Killers and Maiden Japan were in rotation on my beat old record player as a teenager.  This song is almost a musical history lesson in the origins of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and reminds us of the formula that put this amazing band on our radar so many years ago. The Great Unknown is for the punters. My guess would be that it is an opening song on the upcoming Book of Souls tour, which for sure I will not be missing. 8/10 — by Marianne JacobsenThe Red and the Black

This starts out with a galloping rhythm maiden fans immediately recognize, with a soaring lead over it. But after building your anticipation for the first minute, rather than taking off at full speed, this settles into a standard blues rocker. Sounds like something I’ve heard before, but can’t place it. Bruce Dickinson gives a strong, Robert Plant-esque performance, but this wraps up after a couple quick verses and a chorus. A strong enough performance but leaves you a little unsatisfied.  7/10    — by Anton Meyers

When the River Runs Deep“When the River Runs Deep” opens with a riff straight out of Seventh Son of A Seventh Son, and then goes into this even more classic riff that would’ve worked on the first few albums without a doubt. Bruce Dickinson sounds so good on this one. It has the typical Maiden gallop with Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain showing no signs of age at all. Though it has this total throwback sound, it also has the same groove they have adopted since Bruce rejoined. And as one would expect from guitarists of this caliber, Dave Murray Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers deliver incredible solos. A definite highlight on this extremely long album. – 9/10    — by Chris Martin

The Book of Souls

With a mystical Arabian-esque instrumental to gradually draw us into the track, a solitary cymbal clash ushers in a chugging bass and guitar riff which underpins Bruce’s vocals as he starts to paint a picture about finding “demons in the underworld”.  People may well latch onto the strength (or lack of) in Bruce’s voice on the album but on this track his range is put into full effect and after a couple of listens, the 10 minute epic starts to burrow its way into the memory banks for all the right reasons.
A worthy title track. – 7/10    — by Adrian HextallDeath or GloryDeath or Glory has all the makings of a classic maiden tune. The spit fire drums of Nicko come at you front and center out of the box, and Harris’s rampage trademark gallop is firing on all cylinders. One of the fastest and more uptempo cuts on BOS, Bruce is wailing here with a nice fiery atonement in his voice. The song builds up nicely for the dual guitar attack of Murray, Smith and Gers. Not many know how to do it better, 3 guitar players, one nicely put rhythm and tight solos. Excellent track, has all the classic maiden melodies, reminds me a bit of some of Bruce’s solo stuff circa “Accident of Birth”. Up The Irons!!! – 9/10    — by Denys Jaime

Shadows of the Valley”Shadows Of The Valley”, one of the first tracks written for the album gives way like a slowed down version of the 86 classic ”Wasted Years”it soon however finds its own way into becoming itself a Maiden classic, with some great guitar work (as you would expect from a band with 3 class guitarists) in kicks Nickos’ unmistakable drums and Steve’s’ thunderous bass, we are soon reminded Maiden are the kings and are back to reclaim their throne, time to dust off that old denim cutoff with black leather biker jacket its the 80s’ again. – 10/10    — by Shane BradleyTears of a ClownKicking off “Book Of Souls” third act, the mid tempo “Tears of A Clown” clocks in at a mere 4:59, making it the shortest track on the sprawling double CD / triple album. Penned by bassist Steve Harris and guitarist Adrian Smith the mid tempo rocker was inspired by the tragic 2014 death of comedian Robin Willaims. Opening with sustained power chords that give way to a more syncopated riff before settling into a chugging rhythm augmented with synthesizer “Tears” is more of a plodder than the galloping bombast and triple guitar harmonies that are hallmarks of Iron Maiden. 

Being a devotee of the raw intensity of Maiden’s first four albums I’d put “Book of Souls” more on par with 1988’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. Fans of the prog leaning late 80’s and beyond sound of Iron Maiden should really love this album as a whole. Tears Of A Clown is a solid modern Maiden tune that does seem a little out of place with the epic length pieces on the album, but the more I listen the more it grows on me. – 7/10    — by Dave BurkeThe Man of Sorrows“The Man of Sorrows” is the kind of track Iron Maiden have mastered throughout their current era, a slow building power ballad that starts off with minimal instrumental work, and slowly builds up towards something epic in the second half. It begins with a very sad sounding guitar solo, then it’s mostly vocals for the next minute or so, before the rest of the band kicks in and the song picks up. It has a big chorus, as expected, but the most memorable part is the fantastic extended guitar solo in the middle. Not one of their many instant classics, but a great song nonetheless. 

9/10    — by Travis GreenEmpire of the CloudsSeeping into the magnificent final track, “Empire of the Clouds,” awakened my mind completely as I was stunned to hear such excellence.  It was an opus, perhaps summarizing the entire history of Iron Maiden itself, being one of the driving forces of Heavy Metal.  Clocking in at a total of 18:01, this is historically their longest track to date.  The combined classical elements with the use of a violin, cello and piano., wowed me from the start.  This sound, progressing along with the vocals of Dickinson that we have all known to love and adore, praised in after two minutes of the neoclassical introduction. The most mouth watering part was the six minute brilliant instrumental melody which flowed in after six minutes in, filling with multiple guitar riffs, adoring solos and an impeccable melody. Quintessentially exploring the subject matter of death in the most beautiful composition which has made this a genuine historic piece, where I can find myself listening to on repeat for hours on end. – 10/10    — by Zenae Zukowski

 

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