What does it sound like?:
The final four remasters of The Maiden’s epic catalogue, covering the years 2003 to 2015, are here just in time for Christmas – well, the first three use the 2015 remasters created for the vinyl reissues, while The Book of Souls, only having been released in that year, is simply presented in digipack format to bring it into line with the rest of the catalogue.
I always thought Dance of Death was a bit of a let down after the excellent Brave New World set, on which the classic line up of the band was first reunited. Wildest Dreams is a strong way to kick off the album, but I find a lot of the songs rather Maiden by numbers. Paschendale is the strongest piece, while the closing Journeynan was an admirable attempt to do something different – an acoustic number, although I much prefer the electric version that was subsequently available on the No More Lies ep.
Fast forward three years to 2006’s A Matter of Life and Death – one of my favourite albums, and the start of something for an Indian Summer, with the band sounding revitalised and honed by their heavy touring schedule. If you were being ultra critical you could perhaps say some of the songs go on a little too long, but it has some very strong material. These Colours Don’t Run, Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg and For The Greater Good of God are all prime Maiden. A very fine album.
Moving on a further four years to The Final Frontier, another very good metal album, although I think overall maybe not quite as consistent as its predecessor. I really like the opening duo of the title track and El Dorado, Coming Home is a personal fave and the album closes with two typically overblown epics, The Man Who Would Be King and When The Wild Wind Blows – in fact nearly every track is of epic length come to think of it, most clocking in around the eight minute mark – Maiden heaven!
Finally we have the most recent album, although it’s four years old now, the magnificent double set that is The Book of Souls. I think this would be my desert island Maiden album as it covers all their strongest bases, as you would hope for and expect, but at the same time experiments with some less typical, dare I say more adventurous material, the obvious example being Bruce Dickinson’s closing rumination on the Hindenburg disaster, Empire Of The Clouds. That’s not to say they neglect their traditional strengths though – check out If Eternity Should Fail, Speed of Light and The Red and The Black to remove all doubts in that respect. Their best yet?
What does it all *mean*?
It’s high time we had a new album!
Goes well with…
Big crowds, ear splitting volume, air guitar.
Might suit people who like…