Mike told me that Blaze was gone for good, starting with this record. And all I could think was “well, thank fuck for that!”
So, now things are as they should be. Welcome back, Bruce. Please keep your speed-wobble to a minimum, and let’s get down to it.
The Wicker Man I know from a hits collection I heard one time. But that was out of context, compared to this adventure I am on now, as we go through these records in order. I will now forever associate this song with the total relief that Bruce came back. GREAT tune. [And I saw that film a long time ago. Creepy!]. Ghost Of The Navigator builds beautifully and then just takes off. Lots to recommend this one. I imagine it sounds cool live. Then the title track, Brave New World’s intro struck me as Maiden doing a cover of a Tool song. Am I the only one who can hear it? Anyway. Once it builds into what it’s gonna be, it’s a bit lesser than it could be. I don’t know, it wasn’t really a let-down, just not a hit, you know? Still better than anything on the last two records, never doubt that. And that’s one wicked guitar solo around the 4:00 mark, too. Blood Brothers continues their trend of taking all the energy of the ending of the song previous and starting all over again. It’s almost like each song is supposed to stand alone. At this point, I’m not surprised by it. Anyway, the music track on this just soars. I’m not really taken with the vocals on it, almost like at times he’s doing a bad Bon Jovi impersonation. It’s a strong song otherwise. Great use of dynamics… and an orchestra? Or are my ears deceiving me?
The Mercenary brings the rawk right from the start. Pure Maiden – and when you read those two words, you know exactly what I mean. Shame the chorus cuts the tempo in half. Oh well. Dream Of Mirrors’ intro turned me off at first, just an awkward shouting thing. But then it settles itself down into this quiet chug while Bruce sings over it. Those same Some Kind Of Monster lyrics, though, the ones that made me want to kick Blaze Bayley in the nuts (whether he wrote them or not). The chorus rocks out in a 90s grunge band bouncing between two notes way, but the rest is sort of boring. And yes, around 5:45 it kicks and satisfyingly takes off, but most people would have skipped this track by then. Not a keeper track, to me. The Fallen Angel picks up the pace again. Bruce’s vocals are over the top a little, here. There are just some notes that are a little high for him, I guess. But the rest of the track just rocks.
The Nomad keeps that energy alive with a repetitive, relentless riff. I envisioned a video set in the desert, some dude on a mission of great import, with enemies on his heels. It just has a bit of an eastern feel to it. But, being a 9 minute song, by the 5 minute mark it shifts into an instrumental interlude worthy of any of Maiden’s song intros. It builds, and is still chugging along at the 7:45 mark before the vocals come back. I dunno, that section could have been shorter and still had power. This track fades into Out Of The Silent Planet. Science Fiction? Bring it! It crashes into a good rocker. I didn’t pay attention to what he was singing, but the band was solid. We get the trademark gallop again, and then around 3:35 it becomes this neat speed-shuffle beat while the guitars play around. And bringing up the rear is The Thin Line Between Love And Hate. Who’s that singing with him? This one would be great in a live setting, too. It’s not a huge track in the “Maiden canon,” but it’s a good rocker for the middle of the show that would let them play a recent track that has that lift to it. And of course, being Maiden, they had to mess with it around 5:15 and just take it right down to almost nothing, bring it back up again only to let it fade off again to end the album. It’s a little jarring, but whatever guys. And what’s the “I fucking missed it” thing at the end. Is that Nicko? Did he screw up? I didn’t notice anything too glaring.
Total relief that Blaze Bayley went home. This sounds more like what I was wanting for the past two records. There are still a couple of tracks where the vocals aren’t what I’d want, but hey, that’s small complaint. They finally sound like Maiden again, like they got their mojo back. And it’s about bloody time. I liked most of this record quite a lot.
But don’t take my word for it, here’s Mike’s far more intelligent take on this record: