I love Iron Maiden as much as the next guy does. I saw them at Summerfest back in what was a hellish 2012 for me. It was probably the only bright spot for me that year. And of course, singer Bruce Dickinson is one of the best metal vocalists and front man of all time. Of sixteen studio albums put out, twelve of them have featured Dickinson at the helm, perfect for a list of their worst to best.
Now remember, I’m not a professional critic like Robert Christgau. I’m just some bum, like you, who has his own thoughts.
This album should come as a warning sign in the coming years. Adrian Smith had left the band prior to recording (replaced by Janick Gers). Every song is anywhere between three and a half to four and a half minutes long. And there is not a song that gives you a history lesson.
The final album featuring Bruce Dickinson as he left the band following the supporting tour (only to return eight years later). Between this and number twelve up above, I could care less. It’s just that simple. The title track makes this album at number eleven. There’s a power ballad called “Wasting Love” if that interests you.
First thing - Worst album artwork ever! It almost makes a potential buyer at a record store to not pick this because of the awful artwork. Bad artwork aside, there are some real gems as the title track and ‘Face In The Sand.’ You also get great history lessons from songs such as “Montségur” and “Paschendale.” The last track, “Journeymen” is a long acoustic song that will throw Maiden lovers off.
This album sounds like it’s half of a concept album. Opening track “Moonchild” is the only song I can enjoy. The title track made me feel a little better that I made it pass “Can I Play With Madness.” First thing I think of from that entire album is that flippin’ opening chorus “Can I play with madness.” Guitarist Adrian Smith first stint with the band ended after the supporting world tour.
Surprisingly, I didn’t care for the single “El Dorado” and the first track needs to be cut in half. The second half of the album features excellent songwriting and great music that almost feels like the band is in your garage, just jamming away. Highlights are “The Talisman” and “The Man Who Would Be King”
Having “Wasted Years” and “Heaven Can Wait” is too much for this guy. This is where they started playing with a synth and is featured in most of the songs. “Sea Of Madness” and “Alexander The Great” are my highlights.
Short and simple; First half of the album is terrific. The second half of the album, minus “The Trooper” just kills it for me. The closer “To Tame A Land” could’ve been so much more it feels like.
“If Eternity Should Fail” is a great opening but maybe cut a minute off, perhaps. “Speed Of Light” is your classic 80’s Maiden. Just listening to Dickinson’s howl in the beginning is enough to make you smile and know that he’s still has it. A couple of the tracks do seem to be a little longer than I’d like. “Tears Of A Clown” is tremendous and the epic closer “Empire Of The Clouds” takes the band into 18 minutes of enjoyment. I’d go see them live if they were to include this in the setlist.
A great album that could’ve been marked higher, but you feel drained from the same pace of nearly every song. Some songs are great, but also are repetitive, such as “For The Greater Good Of God” and “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns.” Personal favorites are “The Longest Day,” “Out Of The Shadows,” and “Lord Of Light.”
Yes, yes, yes. I know. I love the album just as much as the next Maiden fan but it just doesn’t seem to leave me satisfied enough. If I have it on my stereo, every now and then I’ll skip “The Prisoner” and “22 Acacia Avenue” and “Gangland” and “Total Eclipse.” They don’t grab me as much as the other five tracks do. It’s a classic but I feel like further releases are much more powerful.
I was gonna have this at number one, but the instrumental “Losfer Words (Big Orra)” kind of ticks it down (barely though). “Aces High” comes at you ferociously and Dickinson reaches the peak of his vocal capabilities. “Flash Of The Blade” is a very underrated song. “Back In The Village” makes you feel like your right there in the center of the action. The title track is terrific. Great riffs and some excellent drumming with the changing of the tempo of the song, and the trade-off guitar solos. Then the closer, “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” is an epic for the ages. A musical re-telling of the same titled poem from 1798, it’s a beautiful song. I have always considered this the best Maiden album of the 80’s.
The return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith. The first album to have three guitarists. The first album the band would record live in studio. The most complete album they’ve ever put out. “The Wicker Man” is classic 80’s Maiden. “Ghost Of The Navigator” could fit in easily with Piece Of Mind and Powerslave. The two longest songs “Dream Of Mirrors” and “The Nomad” are full of blistering solos, changing tempos, Dickinson’s voice is enough to make me sing the two songs aloud and play air guitar. If you loved Iron Maiden’s stuff from the 80’s but haven’t listened to their 90’s stuff, this is the album you should listen to, and hear them play like they did in the glory days of the 80’s. From top to bottom, this is a complete album that is their best.