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Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (Deluxe Edition)

After waiting all weekend after release date to receive my Amazon pre-order of this deluxe edition, I’ve been listening to it regularly and my review is pure and simple:

HELL YES!

Seriously, everything about this set is absolutely perfect. The sound quality (including the instrument mixes), the track selection (of course it oughta include Hallowed Be Thy Name but I know there are reasons it couldn’t)… hell, even the balance between the band and crowd noise is spot-on. Of course, they completely nail every track – there was no question of that! The packaging itself is beautiful too, made to be companion to the deluxe of the Book Of Souls album proper. Solid slip-cover, hardcover book, all delicious. This one has lots of live pics and details and it’d be easy to spend time poring over everything (I know because I have).

Best of all, for me, is that this captures a memory, as a document of the show we saw in Toronto, April 3, 2016. They played pretty much the same tracks all along, so except for two tracks difference, this set is identical to what we got when we went. There are no Toronto 2016 tracks on here, though there is one from the gig a couple of days previous in Montreal (Children Of The Damned, April 1, 2016). No matter, I am very grateful to have this here, so I can revisit this excellent tour’s set whenever I like!

No need for me to go track by track. They fuckin’ nail it. This is a stellar live album!!

Up the irons!  \m/  \m/

 

Track Listing (w. Cities and Dates):

CD1

1. If Eternity Should Fail – Sydney, Australia; 6 May 2016
2. Speed of Light – Cape Town, South Africa; 18 May 2016
3. Wrathchild – Dublin, Ireland; 6 May 2017
4. Children of the Damned – Montreal, Canada; 1 April 2016
5. Death or Glory – Wrocław, Poland; 3 July 2016
6. The Red and the Black – Tokyo, Japan; 21 April 2016
7. The Trooper – San Salvador, El Salvador; 6 March 2016
8. Powerslave – Trieste, Italy; 26 July 2016

CD2

1. The Great Unknown – Newcastle, UK; 14 May 2017
2. The Book of Souls – Castle Donington, UK; 12 June 2016
3. Fear of the Dark – Fortaleza, Brazil; 24 March 2016
4. Iron Maiden – Buenos Aires, Argentina; 15 March 2016
5. The Number of the Beast – Wacken, Germany; 4 August 2016
6. Blood Brothers – Donington, UK; 12 June 2016
7. Wasted Years – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 17 March 2016

The Maiden Has Landed

After waiting all weekend, my Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter deluxe edition is here.

And it is GLORIOUS.

Lessons Learned

It went like this:

Back when the Bruce Dickinson book (What Does This Button Do?) and the Iron Maiden live album (Book Of Souls: Live Chapter) were announced, I excitedly put them both on pre-order from Amazon. The book was due out October 31, and the album November 17. By adding both to the pre-order I got free shipping. Actually, just the CD set was enough for free shipping, at their prices. More on that in a minute.

Unfortunately, Amazon was going to hold onto my book from October 31 until November 17 in order to ship both together to give me the free shipping. I even called them to see if they’d ship the book seperately – they would, for shipping fees… Well, no way was I gonna pay shipping, nor was I gonna wait three weeks for the book and CD to ship together. So I cancelled the book portion of the order and got a copy (even before Amazon’s date!) at my local shite mall book shoppe. In my small town. C’mon, Amazon.

On Friday (Nov 17) I got notice that my Book Of Souls live album had shipped. It did not arrive Friday. It did not arrive Saturday (today, as I post this). Which means I could just have gone to Sunrise at our shite mall on Friday and bought the damn live album myself (probably cheaper) because now I gotta wait until Monday for it (at least, it had better bloody well arrive on Monday or I’m gonna yell). Plus, Amazon charged me over $40 for the deluxe set, and I see secondary sellers have it at $27 plus minimal shipping.

Lessons Learned:

I didn’t need to pre-order either item.

I should have seen the free shipping issue coming.

If I’d waited, I could have had the CDs cheaper.

Gah.

Book Of Souls: Live Chapter

UPDATE 2017-11-18: The Youtube video to which I linked has been removed.

Some of you will already have seen the following full video (thanks to Deke and HMO for sending links!), but I am placing this Youtube video here as a public service in advance of Friday (November 17th)’s release date of Iron Maiden’s Book Of Souls: Live Chapter set. I’ve got mine on pre-order. Have you?

This release and video is particularly exciting because we caught this tour the first time it came through Toronto, back in April of 2016. Seeing this set again as a professional video is awesome, just as being there in person was electrifying! Truly a great gig, well-staged and played to perfection. Maiden delivered in full.

The setlist for this release is slightly different from what we saw, with Tears Of A Clown and Hallowed Be Thy Name in the 2016-04 Toronto set, whereas this more current setlist removes those two in favour of Wrathchild and The Great Unknown.

Me, I hope this sees release as a DVD and Blu-ray to go with the audio release!

Here are the tracks:

0:00:17 Intro
0:02:03 If Eternity Should Fail – Sydney, Australia
0:09:47 Speed of Light – Cape Town, South Africa
0:14:58 Wrathchild – Dublin, Ireland
0:18:01 Children of the Damned – Montreal, Canada
0:22:52 Death or Glory – Wroclaw, Poland
0:28:07 The Red and the Black – Tokyo, Japan
0:41:23 The Trooper – San Salvador, El Salvador
0:45:30 Powerslave – Trieste, Italy
0:52:59 The Great Unknown – Newcastle, UK
1:00:03 The Book of Souls – Donington, UK
1:10:34 Fear of the Dark – Fortaleza, Brazil
1:18:07 Iron Maiden – Buenos Aires, Argentina
1:24:13 Number of the Beast – Wacken, Germany
1:29:26 Blood Brothers – Donington, UK
1:36:38 Wasted Years – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Iron Maiden Bottle Caps

A quick post to share an interesting little collection… these are all the Maiden beer tops I’ve come across thus far. They come from the Trooper, Trooper 666, and Trooper Red ‘N’ Black beers. If I’m missing any, let me know!

Sharp-eyed Readers will notice that several of them advertise Maiden’s video game, Legacy Of The Beast.

Check ’em all out!*

 

* Not pictured: Some of the early bottles of Trooper sported a plain black cap, before they moved to the Robinsons logo. I didn’t include those here, as I can’t imagine you’d need to see plain black bottle tops. You’re free to imagine them in all their glory, if you like.

Trooper Red ‘N’ Black

Last night I tried out a new (2016), Limited Edition beer created by Iron Maiden. Naturally, it’s called Trooper Red ‘N’ Black. It’s a porter, not to be confused with a stout. Or is it easily confused? Let’s get Wiki to do the talking:

“Porter is a dark style of beer developed in London from well-hopped beers made from brown malt. The name was first recorded in the 18th century, and is thought to come from its popularity with street and river porters.

The history and development of stout and porter are intertwined. The name “stout” as used for a dark beer is believed to have come about because strong porters were marketed under such names as “Extra Porter”, “Double Porter”, and “Stout Porter”. The term “Stout Porter” would later be shortened to just “Stout”. For example, Guinness Extra Stout was originally called Extra Superior Porter and was only given the name Extra Stout in 1840.

Anyway, knock it off, Knowlton. Maiden’s beer fucking rocks.* I like darker beers (Guiness is my go-to), so I’m all for this new invention. The flavour is grand, heavy but not overbearing. There’s no nasty “ugh” aftertaste, either. It’s a very drinkable beer, quite a bit darker than the very drinkable regular Trooper beer. Yay!

Sad that it’s Limited Edition, though. It oughta be more readily available. Perhaps, in future, it will be. Maybe this “Limited” run of it was to see if people like it. Yes, people, we do! Then again, when has Maiden ever done anything on a small scale? Ach, who knows. Drink up if you’ve got ’em!

I did find it a wee bit pricey at $4.50 (CDN) for one 500mL bottle. I can get a 4-pack of Guiness of $10. Granted, it rocks in at 6.8% alcohol (whereas Guiness is 4%), so perhaps all can be forgiven due to its quicker inebriating properties. It’s also weird to complain because (I think) the Trooper beer is priced at $4.25 for a bottle. Here’s a quarter, call someone who’s drunk!

In Sum:

I’m glad I got to try this excellent beer. It is very, very tasty. UP THE IRONS!  \m/  🙂  \m/

* At this point I think it’s a given that whatever Maiden does, typically, rocks.

KMA Saturday Service: Total Gratitude Edition

Folks, we need to talk about James. My KMA brother, and long-time friend. He’s amazing. He’s the one who brings quality while I bring quantity. And already he’s blushing ‘cos he’s a modest dude. But seriously. James is the man.

The number of times over the years that he’s come through for me in all sorts of ways. It’s crazy. In comparison, I can only try to reciprocate and say close enough! How many times have you read, in these pages, me saying James Rules and OMG James Sent This… if you’re a regular Reader, it’s a lot.

 

Recent Cases In Point:

1) Black Sabbath – The End

James went to the show in Calgary on March 4, and sent me the show-only CD, wouldn’t take money for it. Said Happy Birthday! My birthday is in July.

 

 

2) Record Store Day, April 2016, Pt. 1

I thought the extremely limited edition Iron Maiden ‘Empire Of The Clouds’ 12” single would be awesome to get, but couldn’t get one here. Mike tried for me in his town, but it was one per person. I figured it would be online after the fact… then James texts me, still want the Maiden? His store was getting a late RSD shipment. They even held one for him. It arrived here yesterday. James would not take money for it. He said Merry Christmas. In April.

 

3) Record Store Day, April 2016, Pt. 2

Metallica were amabassadors for RSD this year, and put out their limited edition Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité Bataclan 2003 live CD. This would also be awesome to get. James got that too, and said Happy Your Son’s Birthday (in April). Seriously. At this point, he’s gotta be just making this shit up, or maybe he realized Saying Happy Birthday 2017 was stretching too far?

 

I still cannot get my head around all of this.

By any stretch, by now you have to realize that this is crazy amazing. James. Thank you. Thank You. THANK YOU. A zillion times. A googolplex!

James. Thank you.

Art Project

Mr. Boppin, Esq. suggested I try this. I thought it turned out well!

\m/  \m/

Iron Maiden 2016-04-03: The Song Stats, Pt.2

Folks, Geoff at 1001albumsin10years is the Master Of The Graphs!

He read my recent post on the song stats from the Air Canada Center Maiden show, and obviously read the comments thread too. You see, I’d admitted that the table as you see it in the post had originally been a pie graph, but when I copy/pasted it into the post, it became a table automatically.

Well folks, Geoff has made it into a pie graph. Because Geoff rules! THANKS HEAPS, GEOFF!

Look at all of this MAJESTY!  \m/  \m/
Iron Maiden

 

Iron Maiden 2016-04-03: The Song Stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one’s for Geoff. I know how he loves his stats…

Here are the albums (and number of songs from each) of all songs played at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on April 3!

Album Songs
The Book of Souls 6
The Number of the Beast 3
Brave New World 1
Fear of the Dark 1
Iron Maiden 1
Piece of Mind 1
Powerslave 1
Somewhere in Time 1
The Book Of Souls:
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed Of Light
Tears Of A Clown
The Red And The Black
Death Or Glory
The Book Of Souls
The Number Of The Beast:
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Children Of The Damned
The Number Of The Beast
Brave New World:
Blood Brothers
Fear Of The Dark:
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden:
Iron Maiden
Piece of Mind:
The Trooper
Powerslave:
Powerslave
Somewhere In Time:
Wasted Years

Iron Maiden 2016-04-03: The Videos

I spent some time on the Tubes Of You, and found fan-posted videos of every track played at the Toronto show! So of course I have put them all here, in one place, in the right order!

NOTE: I do not own any of these videos, or any rights to anything. I’m just posting this for all to enjoy. If in some way this is not allowed, let me know in the comments and I’ll take it down immediately. Thanks!

 

01 Intro: U.F.O. – Doctor Doctor & If Eternity Should Fail:

02 Speed Of Light:

03 Children Of The Damned:

04 Tears Of A Clown:

05 The Red And The Black:

06 The Trooper:

07 Powerslave:

08 Death Or Glory:

09 The Book Of Souls:

10 Hallowed Be Thy Name:

11 Fear of The Dark:

12 Iron Maiden:

Encore:

13 The Number Of The Beast:

14 Bruce’s Intro To Blood Brothers:

15 Blood Brothers:

16 Wasted Years:

Holy shit. WHAT A SHOW!!

We really got a great one, folks. Being there was an all-timer show!

And then of course, there was the Outro: Monty Python — Always Look On The Bright Side of Life,  but it only played while the roadies were tearing down and no one seems to have posted a recording of that (and fair enough).

I hope you’ve enjoyed! We sure as hell did.

PS: I’ve also got MP3s of all the tracks from the show, and I want to get them edited into a cohesive show. I need to learn Audacity!

Iron Maiden 2016-04-03

Dear KMA Readers, have I got a tale for you!

It’s a long one.

Go get a coffee.

I’ll wait…

 

Allow me to preface this post with apologies for the shite photies. My little iPhone 5 just didn’t cope well with the stage lights and the distance. In truth, none of my photos came close to depicting what we actually saw – they look much further away. They also came out looking like watercolours, everything lightly blurry. So, I’ve just left them as medium size so you can at least see something, even if they’re not great.

Ages ago, Wilf’s Buddy got us tickets to see Iron Maiden in Toronto. I KNOW!

Then the day before the show, that same buddy had a buddy (it’s a chain of buddies) who works at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) and got us bumped up to the ACC Club. I will explain more. First, let’s talk the day of the show.

Weather reports called for snow flurries and reduced visibility. Plus, a state of emergency had been declared south of us due to flooding. Some roads were closed. No matter, we would get through.

I picked up Wilf at noon, and we rolled towards the big shitty. Just light snow, no biggie. But sure enough, we hit a road block/detour. Which sent us out a back country road for a bit, but ended up being just fine. We didn’t see any evidence of flooding, so it must’ve been one specific area within the cordon.

We got to Toronto in good time and… sat in traffic. On the 401 an accident had blocked everything. No matter, we eventually got through it. Then traffic elsewhere, in places there is (typically) none. No matter. We got there! And plenty early because…

Wilf has recently been bitten by the vinyl collecting bug. He has a new turntable and a small but impressive collection of records already. He wanted more. We hit Kops Records and BMV. I’ll reveal my scores in a seperate post. This one’s all about Maiden.

We got kick-ass parking by the ACC ($30! Highway robbery and it wasn’t even on a highway!) and got a beer to kill time before meeting Wilf’s buddy. We sat in Casey’s, a block up from the show, me in my Eddie trooper t-shirt, and I felt like I belonged in a club. Every second shirt in there was a Maiden shirt, most of them concert shirts. A sea of them. Hells yes. We were joined by Wilf’s friends and it was all good.

Off to the venue. “Tickets” were a swipe of his credit card away – no more paper tickets! Except the credit card machine at the gate wouldn’t read buddy’s card, so off we went to the box office. Turns out his credit card had expired between ticket purchase and concert date, so the new card had the same number just a different expiry number, but it was enough to cough up this hairball. They actually asked him if he still had his old card. Haha what? Who keeps an expired card? And we live 3 hours away, so let me just pop home to have a look! We wondered if we’d get in, for a bit, there. Anyway, he sorted it out and they printed us old school rectangular tickets, which I’m happy to have as a keepsake!

 

Back to the gate and in we go, reservations under our name and holy fuck our seats were front row of the restaurant, right at the railing, overlooking the whole floor from the 200 level, directly across from the stage! We had highback leather chairs, waitress service, and the restaurant’s own super-clean bathroom where there was never a line-up, and no fighting through crowds to get there. What a set-up!

Wilf’s buddy’s buddy (haha this is fun) who works in the kitchen and who got us the upgraded seats came out from the back, brought us an appetizer he’d made. Holy hell, it was these delicious handmade pork things breaded in something fancy with homemade relish and a pickle, even some flowers… Someone at the table said they could’ve eaten 20 of those and called it a meal! Hooray for fancy pants restaurants! Hooray for friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ordered from the Maiden Menu, all of us getting the double cheeseburger except one, who got the fish and chips. This burger, folks. I am a bit of an afficianado for burgers, and this one obliberated most of my ratings scales.

So. Good.

And with these lightly spicy and salty kettle chips… I wanted another plate. And another…

And for all the others (not me, I was driving) the beers started flowing. A good time was being had.

Sadly, there was no Trooper beer.

 

Opening act The Raven Age hit the stage to less than half the crowd Maiden would have. They played ably, no real missteps. The band is solid enough (and it was the drummer’s birthday! Plus, he’s a monster on the kit, great stuff), and George Harris on guitar did well. But I’d say the singer, Michael Burrough… he was good, and he worked hard to get people into it, but I dunno. Maybe more time is needed? They were good, but not great. Probably they suffered by comparison with what we all knew was coming up next… Anyway, they got out of the way quickly enough after a decent set.

I’d had requests for copies of the Raven Age CD from the merch table, but I inquired at the table and it was not for sale! The band did say, from the stage, that they’re available online. Odd that they weren’t selling them at the show. Poor choices! Maybe it’s because it is not on a label, so maybe not too many got printed up? Were it me, I’d have them in boxes ready to go, cheap and plentiful. Anyway, sorry folks, I could not procure the CD. Reminds me of the time we saw Bad Religion (and they were headliners!) and no album at the tables. Weird.

Anyway, the roadies set to work while more beer was consumed, and we all talked a lot about how friggin’ great these seats were. I took pictures, but they don’t do justice to what our eyes actually saw.

Slightly left of center and just above the stage, with perfect sightlines. We did have to stand when the very back row of plebes in the seats on the other side of the railing stood up, but no matter. We’d have been standing anyway.

 

 

Soon it was U.F.O.’s ‘Doctor Doctor’ and the place started going nuts. Folks, I’ve seen a lot of shows, and rarely have I felt the energy in a building of almost 15,000 people like I did last night. It was palpable, the air thick with shouts and pot smoke. And then there was Bruce, up at the back on the riser, with the intro to If Eternity Should Fail. The entire building collectively lost its minds. Unreal. Game fucking on!

I can simplify this. The set list has not changed at all since the start of the tour. As Wilf said, they’re just going to work every day and cranking it out while kicking ass. To fully give you a sense of what we saw, check this out:

 

Intro: U.F.O. – Doctor Doctor

If Eternity Should Fail
Speed Of Light
Children Of The Damned
Tears Of A Clown
The Red And The Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
Death Or Glory
The Book Of Souls
Hallowed be Thy Name
Fear of The Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number Of The Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years

Outro: Monty Python — Always Look On The Bright Side of Life 

I just… words don’t really work, here. I tried writing this section three times. I tried to get out what it was like to be stomped by The Trooper, Bruce waving his flags around, and frickin’ Hallowed Be Thy Name, or lifted by The Red And The Black and Death Or Glory… seeing Eddie come out and stomp around stage, attacking band members (mostly Janick) and then being attacked (Bruce ripped his heart out and threw it to the crowd)… and then there was the big Eddie head… but I just couldn’t get the right words. Adjectives have honestly failed me. So I can sum it up thusly:

That. Fucking. RULED!

For a bunch of guys in their 60s, they were NOT dialing it in. They were giving it their all, leaving nothing behind. They kicked every ass and took every name, and honestly looked like they were having a blast doing it. And they still appeared ready for more. Unreal. UNREAL. I said to Wilf, afterwards, that so many other bands I have seen in concert in the past just got taken to fucking school.

Pretty much every song had its own backdrop curtain, and Bruce had several props (his flags and red jacket for Trooper, a noose for Hallowed, and even a lucha mask and leather vest for Powerslave. Anyway, they spared no expense on the pyros and lights either. And the sound was great. Where we were sitting, we were under the awning of the upper deck, and some said they got a bit of bounce-back especially on the vocals. I didn’t really notice. I was too busy rockin’ out!

And more than that, Bruce was everywhere, jumping around like a 20 year old and not pulling ANY punches on the vocals (take that, Vince Neil!). He sang every note, and with power. Between songs, he talked more than I thought he would, actually went on quite long sometimes between songs. One thing he said that stuck with me was in his (long) intro to Blood Brothers, when he mentioned that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, or what you look like, when you’re in the Maiden Family, you are IN the Maiden Family! Yes, cheap crowd-pleasing talk, but it was totally true. There was a real sense of respectful community in the crowd. Everyone was just there to have a good time, no rough stuff, people waiting their turns, no assholes. Bruce actually complimented the crowd, said they’d been to El Salvador and seen some shit, but after they’d played there people stopped killing each other for five days, and wouldn’t it be great if the whole world was Maiden fans! Imagine the peace! Haha, he then thanked us for being a great crowd. Right on!

Wilf wasn’t too keen on hearing Tears Of A Clown, not his fave track off the album, but I thought it went over great. I was worried about Wasted Years, I don’t dig the album track all that much. But in concert, it fit perfectly. Much, much better live!

Overall, it’s hard to ask for more. You could say I wish they’d played this or that song, but having been there, and been lifted by the brilliance of it all, I can tell you it hardly mattered what they played.

It was all awesome.

By the time it was all over, we knew we had been in the presence of greatness.

 

aftermathThe setlist was stellar. Our seats kicked serious ass. The food was delicious.

We overcame some obstacles to get there, and to even get into the building, but everything worked out fine.

Sadly, it was over too soon and we were out into a very snowy Toronto for the drive home.

Which was total ass.

It was snowing hard, and accumulated snow had already obliterated the lane lines. It was guesswork the whole way. We live 2.5 hours north if the lake shore. This trip took us almst 4.5 hours. Most of the way, we did 50km/h. I totally missed the 410 exit off the 401, so we ended up on Highway 1 for a while. We found the 10 again, only to hit another roadblock, though I found out later that that one was for an accident where a car went headlong into a big rig and two people died. Ugh.

The further north we went, the harder it snowed, and it was blowing right at us like we were going into lightspeed in Star Wars. Once we got out of the city and onto those dark back country highways north, it got really fun. We couldn’t see the lanes or really where the road even was, and now there were no streetlights to help us guess. Plus the snow coming at us… it was not fun. Fortunately, I am well-used to these driving conditions, just living where we do, but it doesn’t mean I like it all that much. Others might’ve found a place to stay for the night…

We made it home, exhausted, at 3 a.m. I dropped Wilf off, got home, shovelled out the walk, crashed around 3:30 and got back up again at 7:00 to take the kids to school. I have to work today, too! I am gonna be done by this evening, I can tell you that. But right now the pure adrenaline of Maiden has kept me going thus far!

IN SUM:

Folks, I have seen many, many bands in concert. I have enjoyed many shows, for many different reasons. But Iron Maiden last night easily earned a place in my list of Best Concerts Ever. There’s something timeless, classic, and fucking epic about what they do, and they do it so well and with such energy that you come away with a real sense of occasion.

 

We didn’t just go to a concert last night. We had one of the best times of our lives.

Thank you, Iron Maiden!

 

 

It’s Poll Week! The Results

Alright folks, the polls are all closed and the results are in. Here are your results for all seven band polls, as posted on a daily basis last week!

Our huge thanks to everyone who participated. You’ll have noticed that I kept all the results hidden through the week. That was so I could do a big reveal in a post like this one. Fun!

I, myself, refrained from voting on all of the polls this week. Why? I wanted the results to be driven purely by you, our beloved KMA Readers.

NB: Number of votes per album are in brackets after album titles [e.g. (5)]. In the case of multiple albums per rating, each album received the number of votes indicated in parentheses.

Here we go!

 

 

 

 

Monday: Top 5 Iron Maiden Albums  (29 total votes)
1. Powerslave (6 votes)
2. The Number Of The Beast (5)
3. Iron Maiden / Piece Of Mind / Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (3)
4. Killers / A Matter Of Life And Death / The Book Of Souls (2)
5. Live After Death / Somewhere In Time / Fear Of The Dark (1)

***

 

 

 

Tuesday: Top 5 Led Zeppelin Albums (36 total votes)

1. Led Zeppelin IV / Houses Of The Holy (6 votes)
2. Led Zeppelin II / Physical Graffiti (5)
3. Led Zeppelin III (4)
4. Led Zeppelin I (3)
5. Coda / Led Zeppelin Boxed Set (2)
-and bonus-
6. In Through The Out Door (1)

***

612856-132386

 

 

 

Wednesday: Top 5 Metallica Albums (30 total votes)
1. Master of Puppets (6 votes)
2. Ride The Lightning (5)
3. Metallica (4)
4. Kill ‘Em All / …And Justice For All (3)
5. The $5.98 E.P: Garage Days Re-Revisited / Load / Death Magnetic (2)
-and bonus-
6. Reload / S&M / Limited Edition Vinyl Boxed Set (1)

***

 

 

 

 

Thursday: Top 4* AC/DC Albums (28 total votes)
1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap / Highway To Hell / Back In Black (5)
2. Powerage (3)
3. For Those About To Rock… / Bonfire (2)
4. High Voltage / If You Want Blood… / Flick Of The Switch / ’74 Jailbreak / The Razor’s Edge / Ballbreaker (1)

* Apparently, there was just a Top 4 for this band, based on votes per album!

***

 

 

 

 

Friday: Top 5 Slayer Albums (0 total votes)

Yes, you read that correctly. For whatever reason, poor Slayer did not receive a single vote in this series!

***

 

 

 

Saturday: Top 5 Judas Priest Albums (35 total votes)
1. Hell Bent For Leather… / Unleashed in The East / Screaming For Vengeance (5 votes)
2. Sad Wings Of Destiny (4)
3. Stained Class / Defenders of The Faith (3)
4. Sin After Sin / British Steel / Painkiller (2)
5. Point Of Entry / Priest… Live! / Nostradamus / Redeemer Of Souls (1)

***

 

 

 

 

Sunday: Top 4* Black Sabbath Albums (32 total votes)
1. Master Of Reality (6 votes)
2. Vol. 4 (5)
3. Black Sabbath / Paranoid / Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (4)
4. Sabotage / Technical Ecstasy / Never Say Die! / Mob Rules / Tyr / Dehumanizer / Black Box / The Dio Years / 13 (1)

* Apparently, there was just a Top 4 for this band, based on votes per album!

***

 

 

 

 

 

In Sum:

This has been a really fun week for me, watching the results come in (or not, as the case may be… sorry Slayer!). I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have.

And for those of you wondering about dipping your toes into the discographies of any of these bands, you can perhaps use these Top 5 voting lists as a shopping list. After all, those selected here are KMA Reader Approved!

Cheers, everybody!

It’s Poll Week! Monday Edition

Let’s have some fun! It’s Poll Week! The Monday Edition is a fun one. You see…

I was just sitting here with the knowledge that (as of today) it’s only 11 weeks and 5 days until the Iron Maiden concert in Toronto. I can’t wait!!

So I thought I’d poll you guys: What are your Top 5 Iron Maiden albums?

For this poll, I’ve included studio, live, and compilation albums (source: Wikipedia).

 

So. What five Maiden albums are your absolute favourites?

Give ‘er!  \m/   \m/

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

maidenIron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

I’m breaking my own rule with this one, in not waiting for Sunday Service. This deserves to be posted now! On the release date!

Well folks, the wait is over – it’s here! And it’s a beautiful thing – I got the hardcover deluxe version and the packaging is beautiful. The book, which contains great artwork and all the lyrics, with the 2CDs tucked into a clever stack tray at the back slides into a gorgeously simple slipcase. They really knocked the packaging out of the park, on this one.

This was the first album I have ever pre-ordered from Amazon. Normally, I just wait for release and go get it, but I was pretty stoked for this release, so I pre-ordered. When I pre-ordered, it was over $30. It soon went to $22.99 and that’s what I ended up paying. I would have paid the original price too – it’s new Maiden, just send it to me! And I have to say, I’m impressed with Amazon’s turn-around. I got a Shipped notification midday yesterday, the day before the release date, and the set was in my trembling hands by noon on the day of release (today). I didn’t even pay extra for faster shipping. Nice one, Amazon!

I’m gonna go track by track here, which is not something I do much anymore – however, this release is totally worth it. I won’t get into the lyrics, though Deke promises me that they are brilliant (and from what I heard as I listened, I have to totally agree). I’ll give it another full spin, with the lyrics sheets, very soon. But for this review, I’m just gonna gut-react to the whole thing as I hear it. These words are written based on my first spin through.

Let’s give ‘er!  \m/   \m/

CD1

If Eternity Should Fail’s intro gives us a feel of something ancient, I assume from the cover artwork they’re going for Aztec or Mayan, something like that. Soon enough the band comes in mid-tempo and it’s glorious. All the elements are here. Around the 5:00 mark the drums roll and we kick into full Maiden gallop. It’s a very melodic section, gorgeous. We pull back to the original tempo and ride the wave out, until a creepy voice of the Harvester Of Souls talks us out haha awesome. Holy hell, this one song is like a Maiden master class. All the elements are here. YES!

Speed Of Light, the first single, is a corker. I still swear that the first 30 seconds of it sounds like a G ’n’ R track circa 1987. That riff, the drums (and cowbell – more cowbell!), that howl… But of course it immediately becomes an Iron Maiden ripper. You’ve all heard it and analysed it and have your own opinion. Me, I think you can’t help but be lifted up by the hugeness of it, and it fucking rocks.

The Great Unknown’s gently-picked guitar intro with Bruce’s vocals is reminiscent of many previous Maiden tracks. When it kicks in, it’s a swinging metal blues as only Maiden can rock it. At top volume (as if there’s any other way to listen to this album), this track hits HARD! This would make a fantastic gym work out track, it just has that energy and elevating feel to it. The ending brings us back down beautifully and I love every second of it all.

The Red And The Black is a masterpiece. It brings a sweet acoustic guitar sound (but is that a bass?) to the feel from the album’s intro before blasting us into that trademark Maiden galloping chug. This sprawling 13:34 track pounds along  through its distinct parts and it’s absolutely beautiful. You can almost picture a battle scene as it plays, a battle on a dusty open plain fought hand-to-hand by foot soldiers… the guitar soloing here is incredible. Haha I could write that about every Maiden track. The bit where the tempo switches around the 9:00, and then switches again at 11:55 (this is all instrumental, these whole sections) is absolutely fun, as is the shout-along at the end. Holy hell, what a track! This is gonna be HUGE in concert!

When The River Runs Deep blasts from the get-go. A quick intro and BAM! get ready to go full-tilt Maiden boogie! This is the kind of thing they do that makes me have to check myself and make sure I’m not driving too fast in the car. It’s easy to get swept along. They break it up with half-time sections, but the real meat here is the full gallop. YEAH!

The Book Of Souls lulls us with a beautiful acoustic guitar intro, then punches hard in the solar plexus with that guitar riff. Yes! This one is majestic, infused with the swagger of those long-used to ruling and power. I pictured Bruce in a cape and crown, for this one! Haha. Of course, at 10:32, the song shifts a few times – like around 5:45 where it full-on tries to separate your scalp from your head for the rest of the song (until the acoustic guitar carries your body to the morgue), but in whatever form it retains its acknowledged glory!

CD2

Death Or Glory goes 100 mph right out of the gate with another monstrous Maiden riff, oh man. I’m driving too fast again! If I had to pick the second single for the record, it’d be this one. I hear a track like this and am filled with so much joy and love and rawk and I must really resist the urge to hit repeat on it as I must hear the rest of the album yet, too!

Shadows Of The Valley builds of the strengths of the previous track and once again sweeps us along in its rip-tide. It’s another majestic track as only Maiden can do it, so many pieces of brilliance making up the hard-rocking whole.

Tears Of A Clown is not, sadly, a cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. I would dearly have loved to hear that. Of course, it wouldn’t fit the album at all, a cover like that, but who would care? Not me! And what is it instead? Another hard-hitting Maiden mid-tempo rocker, of course! I love the way it plays with time signatures, and once again the guitars rule the show. The two guitar solo section from 3:02-4:00 is great, both instruments with different tones yet still working perfectly.

The Man Of Sorrows slows the tempo down even more for a while, from gorgeous intro to the stomping second section. Of course, the menace and tempo returns incrementally by the third tempo and that’s about where the songs stays. This one is very bluesy, with that cool swing to it yet retaining its metal edges.

Empire Of The Clouds is notable, first and foremost, for being 18:05. That is HUGE! And truly, it is a magnum opus. It starts us off on piano, and cello (though I’d say it begs for full orchestra treatment)! Whoa, this section is gorgeous. The band creeps in gently, that martial snare drum as Bruce sings us through the story. And being Maiden, it builds through several stages until full gallop is achieved, and then back down again. It’s an entire Maiden album in one track! You know, at this point, these guys are just showing off. 🙂 An Ultimate Maiden Epic. They have topped even themselves, with this one. Wow.

In Sum:

It wasn’t marketed as such, at least not that I saw, but I’d swear this was a concept album. Not just a collection of cool and amazing Maiden songs, comprising an album, but a fully-realized 2CD history book about a period (real or imagined) of history. I haven’t paid too much attention to the lyrics on this first spin through, but it still feels that way, to me.

Surely people will try to draw comparisons between this one and other albums in the discography. But I really don’t think that’s fair. Elements may seem familiar of course (as they should, at this point), but this is a separate project. Unto itself. Everything about this is epic and beautiful, from the tunes themselves to the pristine sound production to the packaging. Hell, even having new Iron Maiden in 2015 at all is glorious. There were conscerns about Bruce’s ability to get the job done, given his cancer battle, but I can say without doubt those fears have no basis on this record. He is in full-on form and holding nothing back.

Book Of Souls has no missteps, no moments that are even close to medicore, no tracks I thought were lesser. For me it was hit after hit after hit. This is solid, immutable and perfect Maiden music. There is nothing here to let down any fan. Not even close. And if there was anyone turned off by the last couple of albums, this will surely bring them back to the fold. It’s incredible.

Unless something better (unlikely!) comes out of the woodwork, this is the Contender for Album Of The Year for 2015. Hands-down. You’d better fucking believe it, mate. HOLY HELL THIS IS AMAZING!

New Iron Maiden!! Book Of Souls!!

NEW IRON MAIDEN!! BOOK OF SOULS!!

Yes.

Mike messaged me yesterday that there will indeed be a brand new Iron Maiden album, their 16th, later this year. OH MAN!

This isn’t just a new album release announcement. It’s an EVENT!

There were concerns that Bruce Dickinson’s recent battles with cancer would mean this may never happen, but happily he’s been given an all-clear and so here comes the record!

Album Title: Book Of Souls

Mark Your Calendar: September 4, 2015.

Super Awesome: It’ll be a 2CD double album!

The Track List:

CD1
01 If Eternity Should Fail
02 Speed Of Light
03 The Great Unknown
04 The Red And The Black
05 When The River Runs Deep
06 The Book Of Souls

CD2
01 Death Or Glory
02 Shadows Of The Valley
03 Tears Of A Clown*
04 The Man Of Sorrows
05 Empire Of Clouds

* By all reports this is not a cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Shame, that. I’d love to hear what they’d do with it… 🙂

So. 11 tracks on 2CDs? Looks short, but the tracks are most likely to be epic in length, and we all love Maiden epics! Reports online list the album clocking in at 92 minutes (that averages out to just over 8 minutes per track)! BLISS! One track, The Empire Of Clouds, is 18 minutes long!

There’s no tour info listed yet, but I’ve gotta imagine it’ll happen. BRACE YOURSELVES!

There’ll be different versions released, including a 2CD version in hardbound book (limited edition), a regular 2CD set, “triple heavyweight” vinyl, 24-bit mastered and non-mastered for iTunes, and a standard 16-bit audio too.

I am so very very very excited about this. New Maiden music is such great news. I’ll be a first day buyer!

Look at this glorious cover art:

Book Of Souls

 

 

 

 

 

Maiden fans worldwide: REJOICE!!!

Trooper

Trooper

Sorry to disappoint if you clicked here because you wanted to ‘raise a little hell,’ and have a ‘good time not a long time.’ This post is not about Trooper the band. No, this is about The Trooper! Eddie! Iron Maiden! Beer! Ah yes.

I had occasion to be in our local dispensary of all things alcoholic, and here was this fine bastard sitting right there, demanding that I buy him and take him home:

IMAG2926

 

*

 

 

 

Yes, this is the Iron Maiden beer named Trooper, a “Premium British Beer Hand Crafted By Robinson’s Brewery.” And, at $5.05 per bottle, it’s a 1/2L of fucking awesome. To explain perfectly, here’s the label:

Click this image, then click it again to make it bigger!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that may not all be legible, so please allow me to reproduce the text (verbatim) from the label itself:

ONWARD, ONWARD
RODE THE 600…

The Charge Of The Light Brigade, which inspired the Iron Maiden song The Trooper, took place at the Battle Of Balaclava (1854) during the Crimean War when 600 British cavalry courageously charged the massed Russian artillery. This gallant but foolhardy assault resulted in a massive loss of life and came about due to a misunderstanding of an order given by the commanding officer, Lord Raglan. 

Trooper is a premium British beer inspired by Iron Maiden and hand crafted at Robinson’s brewery in Cheshire, UK. Being a real ale enthusiast, vocalist Bruce Dickinson has developed a beer which has true depth of character. Malt flavours and citric notes from a unique blend of Bobec, Goldings and Cascade hops domnate this deep golden ale with a subtle hint of lemon. 

Now, I may be looking at this wrong, as an uninformed-about-history beer-drinking lout, but… naming a song and a beer after a screw up in receiving orders (and from a guy whose name means a seam in a shirt’s sleeve), which led to many deaths that some have interpreted as “gallant” and “courageous,” when surely a moment’s caution and, hell, even double-checking that the order was legit may have saved them all… well that’s all a bit silly, to me. There’s no bravery in unnecessary death, is there? Anyway, there’s a fancy poem about it that romanticizes everything now, so I guess that’s just the way it goes.

But that description is perfectly apt. There’s a definite citrus to this fine ale. My lovely wife detected a bit of something darker, like cherry, perhaps, and I noticed the nutty deliciousness of the hops. But we both gave summations that ended up, essentially, as “Damn, that’s a mighty, mighty fine, easy-drinking ale. I could drink A LOT of these.”

Seriously, folks. This is a Fucking Good Beer. Wow.

Behold, the MAJESTY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I give it two thumbs waaay up, and two metal horns waved high with a mighty WAHOO! \m/  \m/

And, for good measure, an (in my) cups-face for Sarca, too.

That eyebrow would NOT sit down…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iron Maiden’s Trooper beer. If you can find it in your shoppes, buy it. Drink it. Go back and buy more. Holy shit, that is one damn fine tasty beer!

UPDATE: In my haste to tell you about this yummy ale, I neglected to link to its web page. There’s even merch! GO HERE! (must be 18 to go there!)

 

*Even the bottle is gorgeous. I’ve rinsed it and am keeping it in my man cave as music memorabilia. My lovely wife will roll her eyes, but there you go.

 

Iron Maiden – Visions Of The Beast

Iron Maiden – Visions Of The Beast: The Complete Video History

Alright look, it’s simple. This is Iron fuckin’ Maiden. That right there should be enough for anyone to buy this with confidence.

This set is two DVDs full of all the videos from 1980-2001, including live versions and 6 “Camp Chaos” animated versions of some of their biggest songs. It’s over 150 minutes in total, with tons of bonus and extra stuff. There’s also interactive menus and a discography. You can even choose 5.1 sound for the Rock In Rio versions of Brave New World and Fear Of The Dark. I would have done, if I could play 5.1 on any of my equipment.

Even the slipcase is cool, with Eddie leering menacingly out of a clear plastic window in the center, while on the reverse is collected minature imagess of some of the many faces of Eddie. Oh, and his raised middle finger in the center, of course. Beautiful.

There’s so much here, and it’s all so huge. A truly stunning set.

\m/  MAIDEN!!  \m/

VisionsMaiden

 

 

 

 

 

Track Listing*

Disc One

01 Women in Uniform
02 Wrathchild (live)
03 Run to the Hills
04 The Number of the Beast
05 Flight of Icarus
06 The Trooper
07 2 Minutes to Midnight
08 Aces High
09 Wasted Years
10 Stranger in a Strange Land
11 Can I Play with Madness
12 The Evil That Men Do
13 The Clairvoyant
14 Infinite Dreams (live)
15 Holy Smoke
16 Tailgunner
17 Aces High (Camp Chaos version)
18 The Number of the Beast (Camp Chaos version)
19 Futureal (Football version)
20 Fear of the Dark (live – Taken from Rock in Rio)
21 Man on the Edge (fun version – Easter Egg)
• Uses clips of Charlie Chaplin films
• To access this easter egg, play track 6 (The Trooper) three consecutive times, to form 666, the number of the beast.

Disc Two

01 Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter
02 Be Quick or Be Dead
03 From Here to Eternity
04 Wasting Love
05 Fear of the Dark (live)
06 Hallowed Be Thy Name (live)
07 Man on the Edge
08 Afraid to Shoot Strangers (live with Blaze Bayley on vocals)
09 Lord of the Flies
10 Virus
11 The Angel and the Gambler
12 Futureal
13 The Wicker Man
14 Out of the Silent Planet
15 Brave New World (live)
16 The Wicker Man (Camp Chaos version)
17 Run to the Hills (Camp Chaos version)
18 Flight of Icarus (Camp Chaos version)
19 The Trooper (Camp Chaos version) (Easter Egg)
• To access this Easter egg, play track 06 (Hallowed Be Thy Name) twice, then track 4 (Wasting Love), in consecutive order, to form 664.

 

* totally copy/pasted from Wiki.

Grail Success! And More Goodies!

Hey KMA folks!

I am thrilled to announce that I have procurred another of my Holy Grail items! Now, I understand that, in terms of difficult to find, this one really wasn’t that hard to get, but I added it to my Grail List because it’s part of completing my discography of studio albums for this band, and I have never seen it in my town. Anyway, I am very pleased to announce the arrival of:

Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi – Seventh Star!

This means I now own every album up to and including this 1986 entry (plus 1992’s Dehumanizer)! Wahoo! I’ve updated my Grail List to reflect this new addition.

And don’t forget folks, if you have any other items to add to yours, or a list of items you want that you’d like to see in our KMA Master Grail Search List so we can all help you find them, let me know! I’ve helpfully added a link to the full list in the Pluggery post that sits permanently at the top of our main page. Drop me a comment there if you want to add a list or change/update yours!

Other Goodies:

Surely this one was an error:

1) Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 (2CD), with the 3 unreleased encore tracks. I got this for $6.54 CDN. Seriously. I think Amazon made an error. A 2CD Iron Maiden set, released only last year, for less than $7? I’m really certain that that should probably have been $16.54 not $6.54. Not that I’m complaining AT ALL! Hahaha total score! Wahoo!!!

And this is one I’ve wanted for a while…

2) Cynic – Focus (The Expanded Edition). Roadrunner Records has had a lot of great records in their roster, as you all know, and this one is supposed to be a sure-fire classic of progressive rock. This expanded edition re-issue includes 6 bonus tracks, a deluxe booklet, new artwork, previously unseen pictures and a personal message from Paul Masvidal. I’m very excited to dig into this one.

Let’s GIVE ‘ER!

Measured By Maiden

Way back on 2012-07-02  , I made a Greatest Hits of Iron Maiden on CD-R. I called it Attempt #1. It’s a sweet disc. What I did was take one copy of all duplicate tracks from The Essential Iron Maiden, Best Of The Beast, and Edward the Great. Then I removed live tracks (I hate those on Hits sets). What this left me with was 15 tracks of pure Maiden brilliance.

Today, we went to the beach. I love the beach. And we listened to this Maiden mix on the way over. Starting at song 1, we started driving. Here’s what we heard:

The Number of The Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run To The Hills
The Trooper
The Evil That Men Do
Can I Play With Madness
Aces High
Wasted Years
The Wicker Man

And as we arrived at the sandy shores, The Wicker Man was just ending, a perfect excursion I couldn’t duplicate again even if I tried. Surely traffic or something would make us arrive in the middle of a song. Not today!

So. today it was discovered that from our house to the beach is exactly 9 Iron Maiden songs long. Talk about a sweet trip. And what a great measuring tool!

IMAG4899

Today did not suck. At all.

PS: For those of you wondering what the other 6 tracks on the CD-R are, to make up the 15 culled from the three Hits sets, they go as follows:

Wrathchild
Rainmaker
The Clairvoyant
2 Minutes To Midnight
Flight Of Icarus
Be Quick Or Be Dead

I swear. That is one killer CD. That band is so fuckin’ good. Of course, we can all think of songs that should have been included/removed, but that’s what I got from those three sets. Honestly, this CD could raze small countries into submission. Monstrous. I loved it.*

* It should also be noted that my daughter, who is about to turn 3 in a couple of weeks, loves Iron Maiden, and has done since she was at least a year and a half old. And my son, who was 5 in April, likes them too. They recognize Bruce’s voice, and they definitely respond to the energy of the songs. I call this responsible parenthood.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Been a weekend of busy, not a whole lot of time for listening to music. Yeah, you got a late-night piece (let’s not call it a review, right?) about an old radiohead record, but that’s been it. Really should just hunker down and write up several albums in advance, post them days out so that when times like this hit, you won’t miss us. I know how you need that sweet, sweet KMA in your Reader.

Alas, the only things I have to offer you today are random, unconnected bits:

1) for the first time ever, I heard Iron Maiden on the local (named after an animal, of course) rawk radio station. I’m no great radio listener. I prefer controlling what gets played in my car. I’m sure they’ve played them before and I just wasn’t there for it. But, for whatever reason, the radio was on and there they were. Run To The Hills.

And my brain went in several directions, including the thrill I always get when I hear this band, and the wonder that it is February of 2014 and this is the first time I’ve ever heard them on corporate rawk radio. It’s akin to the time I was driving our moving van to Montreal in the fall of 1999, and somewhere outside of Kingston I picked up Tool’s Sober on the radio. It’s so unexpected, in a playlist of BTO and Trooper and April Wine and Nickelcrap. So very refreshing.

But it’s all downhill from the Hills from here…

2) there has been much talk about KISS’ refusal to play at their own Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction. I can only shake my head. These people really are way past old enough to know better, and they can’t even get their shit together long enough to briefly do what they’ve been doing their entire careers, in a place that is only trying to recognize them for having done it. It’s weak. Yes, the RaRHoF is dumb, a joke. We all know this. So they won’t play. UNLESS…

Maybe they’re doing this to drum up interest. Maybe they’ll make it seem like they’ve suddenly found it in themselves to “make up” (get it?) or at least 11th hour make it seem like they’ve swallowed their differences and play anyway. It could be the plan all along. Don’t forget, these guys are the masters of promotion. Panic people that it won’t be happening, and then seem like heroes when (gasp!) it happens anyway… It could just be part of the show.

But know this: I don’t care, one way or the other. I really don’t. And surely there are those out there who know way more than I do about the situation and will tell me no way, it’s not happening. The issues are real. I still won’t really care. But if it is true that they won’t play at their own party where they’re the guests of honour, I call weak-ass lame on all of them. Suck it up, guys, and just do what you do.

3) Justin Bieber threw eggs at his neighbour’s house. It has come to this. This is news. It’s time for a break, people. If we don’t pay attention to these people,  they might just go away. 

And now, for the first time ever (I’m sure) in KMA history, I have just uttered the names Nickelcrap and Justin Bieber in the same post. I’m going to stop now before the Universe implodes.

Iron Maiden – Rainmaker

Mike gave me this single ages ago and it’s great. I’m definitely a late convert to Maiden fandom, but I’m here to stay.

The title track of the single, from Dance Of Death, is a decent track. Certainly not Maiden Classic, more of the power-chord rocker style tune. It’s not a criticism, I like it. Especially loud. Oh yes.

Dance Of Death (orchestral version) is interesting. The song still takes forever to get going (I recall that the album version was the same), but once it does it’s a corker. The addition of the strings really works, here. Well done. Bruce’s vocals are really all or nothing, and if you’re not a fan of the air raid siren, this won’t be the track for you.

More Tea Vicar is a recorded jam session (according to Wiki). Bruce spouts a lot of gibberish. It’s obvious it’s just laying vocals to see what can fit later, if they chose to use it. Oh dear, he raps a bit, too. It works as well as that time Henry Rollins rapped on that Wartime release. As in, not at all. Certainly an oddity, not one to make the mix CD for the car. It’d be easy to rip on this as a joke track, but it’s clearly just a work in progress. A wonder they released it.

I am very grateful to have this here at my house. Thanks heaps, Mike!

 

Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death

Somehow I missed this one, and now I am behind in this Maiden series, so let’s give ‘er.

Different World kicks things off (is Nicko asking for Eddie?) with a great rocker. Everything has its place, and while it’s mid-3/4 tempo for these guys, it has all the right elements and just sounds bloody great. These Colours Don’t Run slowly builds. Hey, has Bruce brought back the growl vocals a little? Cool! Neat tempo-switch at the chorus, and the instrumental middle section is creative and engaging. Are Bruce’s vocals a bit low in this mix? Could just be my ears. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, by the time it builds, has this absolutely heavy riff wedged into the guitar line. Damn! In my headphones, the bottom just dropped right out for thse sections. Loved it! Another soaring Bruce chorus. Great guitar solos here. Yeesh, I just looked, this song is almost 9 minutes long! And it’s busy the whole time! 

The Pilgrim is another in the same vein, a cool song that only Maiden can do. There is still that note, though, and this song has it. You know the one. Bruce always goes for it in the choruses and somehow he never quite gets there. It’s better than I could do, but the ear wants it and doesn’t quite get it. He actually sounded like he strained a bit with the vocals here, but that could just be me. The Longest Day makes me think that this entire album will be the same sort of thing. Sure, there’s lots of changes, but the main tempos are about the same. Not a whole lot of gallop, just mostly this mid-3/4 speed. It’s good. But it’s a lot of it, so I’m glad they try within the songs to shake things up. If this was all 4 minutes songs, it’d all sound the same.

That’s another thing. I’m looking at my iTunes playlist, and a lot of these songs exceed 7 minutes. Credit to the band for being so ambitious!

Out Of The Shadows finally shakes it up a bit, bringing things down to almost ballad (for Maiden) speed. Acoustic guitars! Cool. This one bashes away on a steady course and is a decent enough track. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg is an oddly-titled song, but it has most of the building blocks of those Maiden epics of old (whether it achieves that stature or not, I don’t know), with wicked soloing over a dirty, chugging and slinky guitar line. 

For The Greater Good Of God suffers until Bruce lets the vocals wail. Some clunky lyrics in the intro. This track’s alright, but to me it was a bloody long 9 and a half minutes. I don’t go for overt religious tracks like that. I know I am not in the majority on this point, so it is what it is. Lord Of Light takes a long time to get going, but (finally!) we have a song that has sections that take off! One could be forgiven for thinking that this record wasn’t going to have a song like this on it. Overall, a well-done track. And finally, The Legacy has a pretty, acoustic intro. When it breaks loose, all I could think was: Dio could have rocked the vocals on this one! Don’t ask me why, it’s just what I thought. The song stomps along until well into its minutes, when it winds up and lets rip again, never relenting until the final 30-second acoustic outro, which could have been left off. Not every song needs to be bookended, if you ask me. But you didn’t ask me, so there you go.

In sum: 

This is a good record. Definitely ambitious. Reading the track list, one could wonder if Maiden had made a christian rock record. Maybe they did, I wouldn’t know. On first spin, I don’t really listen to the lyrics. This band has so much going for it, and so much going on, the lyrics aren’t the focus for me. I could have done without the christianity stuff I did notice, but that’s just me. These are strong songs, and they will sound fine in a live setting. I didn’t hear any songs that are instant Maiden Classics, but maybe time will give them a chance.

 

And now, because you deserve it, here is Mike’s far superior review:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/12/15/review-iron-maiden-a-matter-of-life-and-death-2006-cddvd/

His buddy Meat did a guest review of it, too.

http://mikeladano.com/2012/12/22/reviewguest-shot-iron-maiden-a-matter-of-life-and-death-by-meat/

Iron Maiden – Death On The Road

Alright, another live record. I suppose it’s interesting for the deeply invested fans. But, didn’t we just have a live record? Or is my sense of time askew because I’m going through these without having to wait for time to pass between albums? Aw, what the hell. It’s Maiden. At this point, just plug it in and let ‘er rip! There’s two discs here, so let’s jump right in.

Wildest Dreams’ lyrics still seem cheesy to me, but I love that they (once again) open the show with a song off the current record. And the crowd sure was into it on the choruses! My memory may be off, but this seems faster than the recorded version. Wrathchild, Can I Play With Madness and The Trooper all in a row? Haha YEAH!

Dance Of Death, here, comes complete with recorded voice intro and cricket noises. The crowd starts clapping along during the intro but that soon trails off. The guitar solo sections here are incredible. Rainmaker, another current-album song, also has a recorded intro. I have to think the band used spaces like these to switch guitars and whatnot. Anyway, this one’s another power-chorder with blistering solos. Sounds fine.

Brave New World really gets the crowd singing along on the repetitive chorus! I’d say they were into it. They also sang along on Paschendale, which is a superb inclusion here. I really liked this version, and the track is strong. Could be the highlight of this set for me (though I still need to hear the rest!). And rounding out the first disc is Lord Of The Flies, another unexpected track. Cool that they can pull out tracks like this and they sound like they belong next to the Hits everyone came to hear. Great to hear Bruce’s vocals on a Blaze song! Hey Blaze, see how he changes notes and adds inflection? Yeah!

The second disc kicks off with No More Lies, another current-album track. I don’t know why the crowd insists on clapping along with the guitar intro, but they do. Probably they just needed something to do with their hands. Anyway, as the song wears on, all I can say is holy hell, those guitar solos! Damn. So then they head straight into another three-pack of hits, with Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fear Of The Dark and Iron Maiden (cool to have a first record track!). There’s twenty minutes of Maiden fan orgasm, right there. And all of them are strong versions. Woo! And that’s the end, head to encore.

Then it’s straight into Journeyman, off the current record. Another deeper cut that I’m happy is here. Even cooler that it’s the gentle outro track. The crowd sings along on the instrumental bits, they’re right into it. And then, before you forget that Maiden came here to kick your ass with the rawk, they slam out The Number Of The Beast and Run To The Hills to end the show.

In sum? I liked it. A cool song selection and running order. Would have been a good show to see. Says the guy who has never seen Iron Maiden in concert, so really, ANY show would be good to see, at this point.

 

And as always, Mike’s review puts my meager efforts to shame:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/12/09/review-iron-maiden-death-on-the-road-2005/

Iron Maiden – Dance Of Death

Ah, the classic “1,2, 1-2-3-4!” intro! I wondered how long it would take for Maiden to get around to doing that on a record. Wildest Dream’s lyrics are (I think) meant to inspirational. They just sound cliche. Maybe I’m jaded. Anyway, it’s a good rocker, out of the gates, even if it’s a bit weak. Ha, listen to me, the armchair reviewer! Rainmaker keeps the pace high, but with the opener, it’s a one-two punch of mediocre lyrics over power-chording. No More Lies finally busts out their patented, pretty intro-building (this time fortified with strongs!) to heavy riff thing they seem to like to do. In fact, for your edification and through all this exposure to it that I’ve had, I’ve worked out the template:

pretty instrumental intro
Bruce sings over top of it, things build
tempo increases to mid-speed and guitars get heavier
verses and chorus
mid-tempo instrumental section, usually guitar solos
(pace may increase here again – optional)
Bruce comes back and sings to outro
outro is pretty reprise of intro

Feel free to cut and paste that, and go start your own band.

Ahem.

Anyway, Bruce also yelled “no more lies!” enough times that, to me, it started to sound like “normalize!” Even this didn’t really change the song.

Montségur is much heavier right out of the gate, musically a cool song. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, there’s a pitch Bruce can’t quite reach, and unfortunately for the bridges and choruses here he keeps on trying… I really like the music a lot (especially that middle instrumental section, so evocative of “classic” Maiden), but I could do without the vocals as they are.

The title track is back to the template (see above). It isn’t until the 3:00 mark that this song starts to take off… that’s a chunk of time to wait. The growl vocals are a welcome respite from that keening nasal thing Bruce does sometimes (here). Gates Of Tomorrow is back to the AC/DC intro homage! Man, the last one of these was several albums ago! Of course, before a minute is up it becomes undeniably Maiden, but still. The harmony vocals have got to go. Ye g-ds, that’s horrible. The chorus bits don’t help, that nasal thing again. Yeah, I could do without this track. New Frontier works hard from the get-go to dispell the pall of the previous track. It’s a decent track, but it’s at 2:47 where things get great, with that chunky change-up riff leading into more blistering solos. Woo! You’ve got to admit, these guys are killer musicians. Thankfully, this one rocks right up to it’s end, a great stand-alone track.

Paschendale. I understand that this is about the WWI campaign. But really guys, did you have to misspell it? Anyway. This feels more like they used to do, the inventive, long epic track about some historical topic. Cool! I enjoyed that. Face In The Sand builds slowly (an almost-template song, without Bruce’s intro vocals). It’s a riff that feels like it never resolves. It’s hypnotic, but it never comes down from that ledge it’s walking on, and while the pummelling is fun, I kept waiting for it to finally finish the idea, you know? Hm. The instrumental section after the 4:00 mark helped a bit with that. It swings! Age Of Innocence is perfectly servicable despite those sappy inspirational lyrics again, and if it was played live I’m sure it was a lot of fun. That one heavy riff is great! For other bands it’d be a big song, but for Maiden it’s just mediocre. And finally, Journeyman messes with the template a bit, never taking off on the gallop we expect. It’s very pretty, and atmospheric. Not a bad album closer, actually.

In sum? A decent record. Not an instant classic, but also not disappointing. It’s worthy of the discography, I’d say. I mean, every Maiden album has moments where I, personally, wonder why they chose to do what they did, but those moments are always redeemed by many other facets of the songs and the massive moments of rawk we know are coming along eventually.

Now, I haven’t read Mike’s review yet (before posting this), I’m sure he has more insightful things to say than my “I liked this!” and “I didn’t like that!” binary real-time commentary. But have you considered that the last record, which was awesome in many ways (and better than this one) could be considered their re-debut? Making this one the dreaded “second album” that can make or break a band? Sure, they had a long history up to when Bruce left, but his return could be considered a re-start. So in that way, it’s understandable that this one is a bit more bumpy. Just a thought.

 

Here’s Mike’s far superior write-up:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/12/05/review-iron-maiden-dance-of-death-2003/

Iron Maiden – Rock In Rio

Right. Bruce has returned. Maiden has their energy back. We have a strong new record, so let’s make a live album! Brilliant plan!

Ya know, I was writing this up song by song as it played, like I do all the albums as we go through this Maiden series. I found myself writing “this fucking rocked!” for every song. So, here’s one to cover the whole album, OK kids?

This fucking rocked!

Every piston firing on full, the band in full flight. Total cohesive unit, and total metal mayhem. I was impressed that they played so many tracks off the new record (and they sounded like the classics, they completely belonged).

Absolutely glorious. I don’t know if it’s better that Live After Death (I’d have to go back and play that one again, after this), but it’s gotta rank high in Maiden lore as a stellar live performance.

Whatever rating system you use, full marks for this one.

***

A couple of days later: 

I went and found the whole show on the youtubes. Even better to WATCH it! Hot damn.

 

Here’s Mike’s more considered take:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/11/28/review-iron-maiden-rock-in-rio-2002/

Iron Maiden – Brave New World

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.

In sum:

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:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/11/25/review-iron-maiden-brave-new-world-2000/

Iron Maiden – Virtual XI

Alright, alright. I’ll put up with this again. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.

Futureal starts off with high energy promise. Now this sounds like Maiden. Still with the wrong singer, but at least it’s something. It’s also the shortest song here, by far. And they still crammed in great guitar riffs and solos and driving drums. Already I have hopes it could get better.

The Angel And The Gambler keeps hopes high that we’ve got a rocker on our hands. Wait, an organ? Whoa. Aaaand that intro? Somebody’s been listening to too much Dire Straits mixed with the Top Gun soundtrack and ZZ Top on random in their CD changer. The verse bits are chugging barrom blues rock and then it inexplicably slows. This is gonna go on for ten minutes? Oh I hope it changes up. Haha at 2:30 “So why don’t you go, just leave well alone?” Buddy believe me, I’ve contemplated it. “Don’t you think I’m a saviour?” Hahaha no. No no no and no. At least there’s another rip-snorter instrumental section that saves the whole thing at 5:37. You know what I want? Less repetition! And a dollar for every time he used the words “saviour” and “life” in this song. I could buy everyone here a beer, for sure. This track? A good three minute rocker trapped in a ten minute bloater’s body.

Lightning Strikes Twice. Does it? ‘Cos this is your second album with this bum, and I wouldn’t call it lightning strikes. We may wish we had been struck by lightning, but… Look. Would somebody please tell this asshole to stop singing? He’s terrible. No, I couldn’t do better, but I still don’t need to listen to him. What, did his grade 4 teacher tell him he was a good singer? So then he discovered metal in high school and he’s all full of himself, or something? The song takes off at 1:50 or so, at least there’s that. But it’s still not achieving lift off with his anchor of a voice wrapped around its ankles. Can they still not see it? It’s got thick chain and everything. Hanging right there. It’s gotta be heavy, don’t they notice? Guys! Look! LOOK!

The Clansman I’ve heard on a hits collection, am I right? That riff sounds familiar. So far, it’s Winner of the Most Like Maiden award on their own bloody record. But when they start chanting “Freee-dommmm!” all I can see is Mel Gibson in Braveheart, strapped to a rock and being eviscerated. Haha ouch. Probably the best track here, at any rate. Even with that visual.

When Two Worlds Collide… Hey, has anybody ever done a mashup of this one and Def Leppard’s When Love And Hate Collide? I mean, just the titles, it could work to smash the ballad and this rocker together. Heh. Can you tell my mind is wandering? This guy is really distracting. I know there’s great Maiden riffage going on in the background. I just can’t get my mind past Mr. Atonal. Like all songs here, the instrumental bits are far and away the best bits.

The Educated Fool sticks to the formula, pretty intro that squashes any energy that the song previous may have made us hope would carry forward. Crap lyrics again. Look (and the same really applies to X Factor), if you want to sing about your feelings and your need for some form of therpy, go join Metallica. This is Maiden! Leave that crap in the diary you keep under your bed, Blaze. The one with the little key and lock. Yeah, the pink one with the rainbows and the unicorns on it. Anyway. This song’s middle section is typically awesome, but the rest could be OK if… sigh, I still hear Bruce doing all of this better.

Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger, another gentle intro. Guys, seriously, this is two albums’ worth of this stuff. Mix it up more often! When this song takes off, after that repetitive stuff at the start, it REALLY takes off. Woo! And then… whuh? He’s got a whispering solo? Ah, now I see why this song is bloody 8 minutes long. And now I’m flashing on the Police. Why?  “Don’t look to… don’t look to” could be “Don’t stand so… don’t stand so… close to me!” Sigh. OK boys, let’s go. Waaay too long on this bit. No, really. I’m gonna scan ahead if you don’t stop… I’m serious… 5:25 of whew. Lucky for them they cut that crap out and let it rip for a bit. And what a silly ending! Oh well.

Como Estais Amigos is the only spanish in the song. “Shall we kneel and say a prayer?” What, that you’ll leave soon? YES! Wow this intro is bad. And look, ANOTHER slow-builder! But this one only achieves mid-tempo. An OK song, I guess. Not a keeper. And that’s that.

Hm.

In Sum:

I will say this: the production is way better here than on X Factor, which was very fat and dark sounding. This one is lighter and clearer. That’s a relief. And at least the music sounds more like Maiden. I know I’m supposed to want a band to try new things, but that last record sounded like a bad Maiden cover band – when they could manage it. This one, at least, has their energy and verve. They just need to “accidentally” chuck this “singer” off the tour bus on a country road.

If I had to choose between the two, I would take this one over X Factor, surely. Why? At least the music, for the most part, sound like Maiden. If they would re-release this as a karaoke album, sans vocals, it could be a decent instrumental record. But given broader range, I wouldn’t take either one. Comparing to their established discography, both of these are not worth mentioning. It’s a total shame. I know they are capable of so much more. I kow, because I’ve heard it, a few albums ago.

Get rid of this singer, guys. Please. For the sake of us all.

Here’s Mike’s review: http://mikeladano.com/2012/11/12/iron-maiden-virtual-xi/

Iron Maiden – X Factor

Alright, so bring in the new guy and let’s get this sucker started!

Some chanting at the start of album opener, Sign Of The Cross. Haha ok, whatever. I see in my iTunes that this song is over 11 minutes long. Even for this band, that’s bloody ambitious. And then our intro to the new guy is barely a whisper? Mm hm… I was giving this until the three minute mark to do something or I was scanning ahead. Lucky they did! OK, not a bad song, really. Doesn’t really sound like Maiden, somehow, though? What’s missing? I mean sure, Blaze’s voice doesn’t even close to Bruce’s soar, even when he tries, in the chorus. But there’s something else… can’t quite put my finger on it. Anyway, were it me, as the new guy, I’d want my first intro to Maiden fans to be one of their trademark full-steam-ahead tracks, just put it all out there and say HI! Here I am! None of this half-tempo, chanting-monks stuff. OK, I get it, it’s atmospheric. Move along, boys. Alright the time signature shift is fun, for a minute. But even the guitar solo line is restrained. WTF! Ah, there we go, now at the FRIGGIN’ 8 MINUTE MARK we finally achieve liftoff! Yeah! That’s more like it. Also, this track has gone a long time without the dude singing at all, and I am not bothered by this. Some intro for the new guy. NOT! Wow I’m typing a lot for this song… because it goes for so bloody long and I’ve got all this time to type as I listen. Whoa, then at the ten minute mark, when he comes back in… unnecessary. Nope, sorry. He can’t cut it, here. Makes me wish for Bruce, he’d NAIL that. This guy didn’t. NEXT!

Lord Of The Flies starts off more promisingly, nice chunky beat and distorted guitars building into a bit better main song (though still mid-tempo, for Maiden). The first two lines, “I don’t care for this world anymore/I just want to live my own fantasy,” man, I felt like saying OK Dude, go for it, buh-bye! He’s not lifting me up, here. I’m not feeling it. This sounds like another band. Not even a Maiden cover band, either. Just… middle of the road rock. I’m not even following what he’s saying. Should I be? Wow, this guy was not the right choice.

Man On The Edge has a very pretty intro, as ever. This band has mastered those. And then boom! High energy! Yeah baby! And then… buddy starts his one-note “singing.” Great for punk, or a garage band somewhere, but for Maiden? Nope. This really goes to show how Bruce made this his own. All I can hear in my head is him singing this. He’d kill it. Great song, though. This is more like it, musically.

So as the guitars solo away, here at the 2:30 mark (which is awesome), I’m reading the track list for the first time. Maybe I should be paying attention to what buddy here is singing. This seems to be an overtly religion-themed record. Meh, I can go call up the lyrics online if something catches my ear. Which means I probably won’t, because I don’t care. Anyway.

Fortunes Of War kills the energy of the last track’s ending with another pretty intro. Dude does his monotone singing. Then the guitars come in! Oh, then they go away. But now they’re back! Now they’re down again (repeat). Too much up and down for too little pay-off. This is boring, and very repetitive. Alright, almost 3:30 and he’s singing again. Ugh. Ah! And 4:40 the band takes off. Finally. This is nice, one minute of full-on Maiden musicianship without buddy’s foghorn wrecking it up. Then he’s back. And really, “whoa oh oh oh?” Come on. And then it takes forever to die off. Yeesh.

Look For The Truth, another pretty intro. Almost Metallica’s Unforgiven-like. Wow, this guy has been singing like any schlub they could’ve dragged in off the street. Sorry, but it’s true. Whoa, WAIT! He went above his usual note! Now we’re getting somewhere! Only 5 songs in and he’s finally letting it rip a little bit. OK, now we’re talking, this is better. Not great, but better. Why didn’t he do this on the previous tracks? I was already losing interest completely by the time we got to this. Most people wouldn’t have even this much patience, to sit through all that to get even this. So far, this is the best track here, and that is a little sad.

The Aftermath sucks away the energy again with yet another lovely intro before kicking in. Talk about over-using the formula. This one just plods. “Should we be fighting at all?” An anti-war screed, mid-point of a record that needs a whole lot more Maiden. What happened, here? Did they figure new singer, new approach? A clean slate? An interesting little instrumental bit that almost swings at the 3:30 mark. Cool, until he starts in the vocals again. Ah good, they’re off on one of their tears again. Now this I like. Let the great guitar solos wash away that guy. And then bring back the plod? Nope, should have let the soloing trail away and fade out the song. No need to bookend this track. Ruined it.

Judgement Of Heaven’s lyrics at the beginning are terrible (or hilarious, take your pick), and it doesn’t help that this guy is delivering them in a brutally bad way. The song crashes away after a bit, but these vocals are awful offal. I’m scanning ahead a bit but I’ll bet I’ll just skip this.

Blood On The World’s Hands’ intro is like being forced to listen to your college roommate noodle away on his bass. Come on, really? This is a Maiden record! At least it becomes better after the turn. I’m still not buying the new guy, but this song has interesting elements to it. Truly, this is a six minute song that would make a really great three minute song.

The Edge Of Darkness (again!) takes away any energy the last song may have left with us, and flies in the helicopters and another pretty intro. Gotta be another anti-war song. Oh goodie. Did he just mention Heart Of Darkness? Oh man. But then about 2:15 it finally gets some life. Cool. But that guitar line… doesn’t that sound like another Maiden song? Hmmmm? Of course it does. At least the track has some energy to it, for most of it.

2 A.M. AGAIN sucks away that energy. This isn’t an album that flows at all. Every song is an island unto itself, there’s no coherence between one song and the next. And the lyrics here are brutally bad. I cannot care. This one plods with no momentary energy blast. If I never hear this crap song again, I’ll be just fine.

The Unbeliever brings things to a close. And I have to admit, any other Maiden record and I’d have had hope for an 8-minute track. It’ll be a cool, historical epic! But after all of whatever this record can be called, I’m not so sure I have the strength, or the belief that it’ll be that intelligent. Well, in the interests of finishing this thing, onward… There’s parts of this that were interesting, like the Wipe-out style drums at 3:40. But whomever wrote these words needs help making things fit a structure without trying to cram in extra syllables. And a whole new idea of what to write – are they serious, with this crap? Except for the bits where the playing is excellent, this track is a toss-away.

In sum:

OK, wow. That was terrible. I haven’t read Mike’s review yet, but I’m wagering it’ll be a 1/5. I can’t see it being very high, anyway. Ugh. The new “singer” is terrible. Sorry to those who like him, but he’s atonal and nasal. I didn’t care about the lyrics anytime I did pay attention. I’m sure Maiden fans were screaming for the return of Bruce, and some bloody energy, after this hit the shelves. What a let-down. The worst outing yet.

Here’s Mike’s review: http://mikeladano.com/2012/11/09/review-iron-maiden-the-x-factor-plus-singles1995/

Iron Maiden – Live At Donnington

I will only say this once, off the top. I promise I won’t mention it again throughout the rest of the following diatribe. Ready? Dickinson’s vocals here are WAY better than on A Real Dead One. I mean, there’s no comparison. The dude actually showed up to work for this one. The difference is obvious.

OK, there, I said it. Onward.

Be Quick Or Be Dead immediately cleanses my head of the travesty that was A Real Dead One. Maybe he’s in the mix properly, but he definitely had a better opening on the mic. The Number Of The Beast is also just a great version. When the band kicks in, it’s off to the fuckin’ races, man. Wrathchild was a cool one to hear. It’s more mid-tempo for them, but still rocks out with simultaneous abandon and control, and very bluesy to boot! Metal-blues. Niiice. So of course it devolves into their AC/DC-wannabe track From Here To Eternity. Not so obviously a rip-off as Weekend Warrior was, but this one cuts it pretty close! Can I Play With Madness is a decent version. Is my memory of the album track off here, expecting synthesizers? Somehow I was… anyway, it’s better without them. Oh wait, there they are. So quiet in the mix. Should have just left them out.

Wasting Love lets all the air out of the balloon in one fell swoop with that long intro, and the mid-tempo (at best) other bits. Nah, not really a fan of that one. But then we get the almighty Tailgunner. I do love this song, and this is definitely a credible version. And of course it leads into The Evil That Men Do, another rollicking run-through. Excellent. Though I could have done without the three minute blabbering about how they were recording all this. C’mon, cut that shit out of here. What a dead spot on the record! Oh, and there’s his “war is stupid!” bit again. Sigh. They should have snipped that bit from the CDs, left it for the DVDs. Fortunately, what saves it is a perfectly chosen ending to what could be considered a trilogy of songs. Afraid To Shoot Strangers ressurects the momentum they’d just lost.

Fear Of The Dark… why does he always introduce it in that Halloween-y voice? Anyway, a classic that had to be here, and the band nails it with aplomb. I think I liked it better as a show-closer (wasn’t that A Real Live One?). I mean, mid-set it sort just becomes another great Maiden song, without the soccer-chant-able singalong bits. So help me, the intro to Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter, here, made me think they were going to break into a bad cover of Billy Idol’s version of Mony Mony. But no! Let’s get the crowd to sing along with some nonsensical “hey yeah yeahs!” This whole track is built on the chorus. The rest is just like ketchup for the fries, just him talk-singing. Anyway, I’ve probably just commited heresy and you’re free to stop reading. I’m typing as I’m listening, and it is what it is, as I see it. Now, I love the next song, and The Clairvoyant does not disappoint. Woo! Although, those arpeggio guitar bits flirted with being out of tune. But shhhh! Don’t tell anyone! Just go back to rocking, nothing to see here! Even where it switches tempos abruptly isn’t THAT jarring, this time. Great track. Next up, Heaven Can Wait launches and never comes back down. LOTS of crowd participation here, the song is just built for it. They could have milked this one a lot longer than they did. And, to end the first of the CDs here, Run To The Hills. Of course. Cool version. And they signed off the main chunk of the show there, too. That one CD is enough to blast holes in most fortified walls. But wait, you mean there’s MORE?

The second CD kicks off with 2 Minutes To Midnight, which gets things right back to where they had been. I’m not the craziest about this song, but I understand its appeal in the discography. Next up, Iron Maiden keeps up the pace, until they break it down around the 2:30 mark. Guess, after all that, the band needed a bit of a well-earned break. Not that they lingered, it’s off to the races again right quick. And then they sign off again. That’s the end of the concert. Right? Nope. The crowd chants along for a good three minutes of wasted space on the disc, though. Shame, that.

Hallowed Be Thy Name starts things up again. At this point, it seems obvious that the band doesn’t want to go home. Dickinson did promise that they were going to play long, earlier in the set. And man, what a full track! What a work-out! That late in the night, it’s phenomenal, a testimony to their ability and energy. But then! No time is wasted getting straight to The Trooper, which does noting to give them a break. Lesser mortals would be falling over, by now. Not these guys. They’re banging out bpms and blistering guitar solos like it’s the first song of the night. Damn. Up next is Sanctuary, which blast off until a minute or so in, same as on A Real Dead One, they just slow to a stop, and where he spends a minute lying to the crowd about how he was nervous before the gig, then introduces the band, and then… boom! The crash back into the song as if they’d never stopped playing. They shouldn’t have. I don’t think they know when to intoduce themselves, it always comes at an awkward point. Tell them to call me, I’ll tell them. And for the last song of the night, Running Free brings back the bluesy rock, and includes the breakdown where he says goodbye, talks about the other bands who’d played that day, then gets a long segment of crowd shout-alongs before crashing to close. I dunno. Not the song I would choose to end a set like this, but once again they never asked me. They even left in the thanks, and Nicko’s babbling, and the fireworks at the end. I guess they wanted it to be complete.

Still, in all, despite the edits I’d have made? This was the best live Maiden I’ve heard so far, hands-down. They just gave everything they had, it was obvious.

If it came down to this one versus A Real Dead One, hell, even A Real Live One, competing for my hard-earned in a record shop, this one would come home with me, hands down, even with the pointless stopping and starting and the way-too-long crowd chanting between sets. A Real Live One would be a second choice, and no matter how they’d priced it, I’d tell them they’d over-priced A Real Dead One.

Right, and now Mike gets it right:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/11/03/review-iron-maiden-live-at-donington-august-22nd-1992/

Iron Maiden – A Real Dead One

I like the crowd shouting along with Vincent Price to open the show. But holy, Bruce’s voice was SHIT through that opening of Number. Did he have a cold? I’d believe it, he sounds brutally bad. Whatever, the crowd was into it; he really should have let them sing it. Almost sounds like he’s coasting, wishing they’d pump up his mic volume, not taking the vocals high when he can take them low… damn. The band, of course, nails it. The Trooper rolls around and the crowd noise is gone when it suits the studio fixers. Again. I hate that (I’ve said that before). A ripping version from the band, but Bruce still sounds like hell. Uninspiring, so far, is Mr. Dickinson.  That guitar solo! I keep saying that about these guys, but damn! Prowler confirms my fears that this entire rcord is gonna be a stellar blast from the band but a horrible showing for their vocalist. Maybe he’s off in the mix, too. I mean, there is a lot going on, a lot with which to compete, but that still doesn’t make up for his taking the easy way out as often as he does, not holding notes, not reaching for the high notes we expect. Maybe a live DVD of this show would show that he was actually running around at full speed and all of these complaints are moot because he was giving it this much, all the while doing sprints and jumping jacks or whatever. Transylvania is the best track here. It’s absolutely GREAT musicianship, and the dude’s not singing.

Remember Tomorrow wasn’t a highlight for me when I heard it on the record, and this version’s slow bits plod painfully. The up-tempo bits, of course, kill. The guitars, AGAIN! Hot damn. But those screams he gives out after the 5:00 mark are just bad. Better left alone, man. Where Eagles Dare’s middle section is more proof positive that this band could kill as a completely instrumental metal band. People would still come to rock the fuck out, I swear. Sanctuary messes with the crowd noises again, but at least the vocals seem to (finally) be warming up a bit. When they stop one minute in, to introduce the band… I dunno. Odd timing, seven songs into a 12 song set. Whatever. Listen to that insane guitar, again! Makes it all okay. Even when that last little bit about 1:30 from the end makes it all fall apart before the go off on a gallop again. I wonder if that was planned? Probably. Ill-advised, anyway. Just rock it, man. Stop mucking about. So then that track leaves us hanging abruptly and Running Free comes bouncing in. It’s alright, I guess. Lots of crowd participation. Not a main track in this set.

Run To The Hills’ intro was way too fast, which makes sense to me – means he doesn’t have to hold notes. The rest of the tracks blasts along well enough but man, that’s it, I’m done with this guy here. Every song I’m writing how he’s not able to do it. Sure, it’s a tough-as-hell job, and the recorded versions are tough to live up to, night after night. I know I sure as shootin’ couldn’t do it. But it’s the reason he’s there, and he’s missing the notes. Ugh. The rest of this is just going to hit my ears music-only. 2 Minutes To Midnight is pretty faithful to the record, though it seems like they dragged it out long. I could be wrong about that. Iron Maiden ends the main section of the show with one of those long, drawn-out crashing closings. The crowd chants along for a while until they comeback and do the obligatory encore. Hallowed Be Thy Name saves the whole thing. Not THAT’S what we needed! Sure, the bass sound is… clunky? Something off about it. And it’s shit that he saved the best vocals for the last track. Guess he knew it was time to go home soon, have a cup of tea and not have to yell so much. But this is the best song here (the only one I’d pull for a mix), the only one that clicks and says MAIDEN! To have to sit through the rest, waiting for it? Nonsense.

Overall? This one really is a real dead one, alright. All thanks to the abyssmal vocals from Mr. Dickinson. I have this mental image of him running backstage after the show and collapsing. Oh well. Kudos to the rest of the band, they nailed it, song after song. Not a fan of this one.

And here’s Mike’s true-fan perspective:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/30/review-iron-maiden-a-real-dead-one-1993-plus-single/

Iron Maiden – A Real Live One

I listen with good headphones on, because I find it really helps hear the whole of everything going on in a record. And what slapped me in the face with this one was right off the top. A huge crowd yelling and then, quickly, once the band starts in earnest <poof> they’re magically gone! That’s quite a trick, making that many people disappear for a song’s duration! Move over, Copperfield. Look, if this is a live album, leave the crowd in there! It is what it is! I hate when they insult us by fixing things like that in the studio. Anyway. I know it happens all the time. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Be Quick Or Be Dead, otherwise, is a good version, though the warble is back. Ugh. From Here To Eternity shifts gears quite noticeably at first, but it soon speeds up. And the vocals go to the growl (thank goodness). And I was right (I called it) – that chorus is a great shout-along! Can I Play With Madness speeds up like hell at the chorus, and the crowd magically returns again! Sigh. Nice to hear him try speaking en francais, though. Does better than I could, off the top of my head and in front of thousands of French-speaking people. Wasting Love had to happen, I suppose. It’s saved by the guitar-work, otherwise I’d say skip this one.

Tail Gunner is a neat track to include. I like this song, and this is a good version. The Evil That Men Do takes an absolutely punishing pace. Damn! Nice to hear the crowd singing along, here. Afraid To Shoot Strangers has a funny intro tagged on to the end of Evil, the whole “war is bullshit” thing. Bumper sticker sentiment, while true in this case, doesn’t go too deep in this setting. The song itself, as we know from the album, plods itself into being before the guitars finally save the thing from boredom. I dunno, after a while I stopped listening to what he had to say. They edited the crowds’ “hey! hey! hey!” into (and then out of) the guitar line section. We’re past the 3:30 mark before it takes off. The guitar solo here is scorching. Woo! Still, it’s a long time to make people wait for what they know is coming.

Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter is pretty faithful to the album version, just straight-on going for it. Heaven Can Wait bops along at a great clip, and the crowd gets to shout along in the chorus bits again. Holy hell, you know what? This band is a great sum of its parts, sure. But, and it has been said before, it is all about these guitar solos! Studio and live, these sections KILL! The Clairvoyant was one I wanted to hear, and I was not disappointed. Probably the best track here. And it feeds nicely into Fear Of The Dark, which I can see never leaving their live set. Ever. It gives the crowd a soccer chant-style line to take with them, shouting into the night on their way home. Nice.

In all, not a bad live album, but not overwhelmingly great, either. The varying sound quality between recordings in different cities makes it uneven. In fact, stepping back and lookin gat the album as a whole, the production is not good at all. Also, as I stated, I really hate that crowd editing thing. But it’s a great selection of songs, and it’s fun to imagine being able to be there. And it was about time, after that many albums, that they put out a live record anyway.

 

And now for a real, informed review, here’s Mike:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/27/review-iron-maiden-a-real-live-one-1993-plus-single/

Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark

Here we go again in the Maiden series, concurrent with Mike’s (surely more informed) reviews:

Be Quick Or Be Dead starts this record off with a bang, indeed. Good pace, and just a great guitar song. A solid Maiden track. Gotta say, as it was on No Prayer, I like the growl. It makes him sound menacing! Sure, there are others who are way better at it, but those others can’t sing at the other end of it, not like he does. It makes him a double threat. Now if he’d just control that speed wobble… Anyway. From Here To Eternity’s intro (and underlying riff) sounds like AC/DC! It becomes a mid-tempo rawk track, again with the rough vocals. It’s pretty straight-on rock, not great, but surely not bad. The guitar solo is blistering. Cool shout-along chorus, which would be fun in concert. Afraid To Shoot Strangers takes WAY too long to get going. I was losing interest. What was that, 2:40 into it? I mean, it was pretty enough, I suppose, but no thanks. Some cool guitar lines, and then in the third minute it just goes off. What a solo!

Fear Is The Key didn’t start like I thought it would. A Maiden song with a title like that ought to knock you backwards at a zillion miles an hour! The bluesy-rock chug that results instead is fine enough, but there are so many other bands that do this. Why would they bother? And where it shifts tempo around 3:30 is tough on the ears, a clunking shift without a clutch. Well, at least they’re trying new things, right? Right? Hm… Childhood’s End has a great middle section, and I love the machine-gun tom drums throughout the rest. Otherwise it’s fairly typical of their sound around this time (as I’m learning). They’ve gone half-tempo. Live, it makes sense. Can’t play at full speed all the time – Nicko’s arms would fall off! Wasting Love is one I’d heard before, but I couldn’t tell you where. Was this a single? Was it on Much Music? Anyway, it goes on way too long. It was a good song idea that should have been 3 minutes, not 6.

The Fugitive (as in Harrison Ford? He’d love that) starts off mixing a promising drum/riff pounding with a less-interesting softer bit, which is where the warble-vocals come in. Sigh. This song shifts tempos several times, but it’s more interesting when it’s heavier. He should have growl-sang this one. Chains Of Misery is another mid-tempo rawker with shout-along bits. I dunno, it didn’t grab me, though there’s another killer guitar solo. Those have been consistently awesome on this record. The Apparition is either the template every hair metal band used, or Maiden used that universal template for their song. Either way, it’s not very interesting and we expect more from these guys – and I say that never having tried to write a song like this. For some reason, all I could think of when listening to this was that they should have had an orchestra backing them on this track, like Metallica’s S&M. That would have finished it off perfectly.

Judas Be My Guide restores my dwindling hope that they’d let it rip even a little bit more. Great guitar solos (again), but if you survey this track, it’s like Dickinson is singing one or two notes through the whole thing. Not very varied. Still, one of the better songs here. Holy AC/DC, Weekend Warrior! Sure, break it up with the softer bits, but haha the rest’s guitars and vocals are so blatantly AC/DC that it ought to get them sued! And is that an acoustic guitar in the mix on the chorus bits? I think so! And bringing up the rear is the title track, which I know from hits collections. Huge track. Restores faith that the next album may have more balls. Sorry, but it’s true. Most of this record feels like they’re pulling their punches, and they have absolutely no reason to do so. Only the opener and closer have any real teeth.

If I was making a mix, I might pull a one, maybe two tracks from this record. The guitar solos are stellar, bar none. But this surely isn’t a favourite of all the records I’ve heard so far. Not even close.

And now, here’s Mike’s way better take on things: http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/23/review-iron-maiden-fear-of-the-dark-1992-1996-bonus-disc/

Iron Maiden – No Prayer For The Dying

—For those of you keeping score (because I know you all are), I took Mike’s advice and played Seventh Son again. It’s a cool record, but I cannot get into the vocals on most tracks. It’s like he was trying to do his operatic thing while someone was shaking him by the shoulders. Ugh.—

So, now we get to No Prayer For The Dying. I’ll write this up before I read Mike’s take on it.

Tailgunner is a great riff, and I like the gutteral, raw vocals here. It’s like he took up smoking and drinking straight bourbon between records, or something. The growl goes well with the guitar assault. A strong album opener, and my fears of a repeat of Seventh’s howls aren’t immediately realized. Holy Smoke is a fun guitar riff. Fun?!?! Yeah! Same vocals too. Could it be? Has he left the warble at home? And this is interesting to note: for Maiden, this is two mid-tempo tracks in a row. I’m talking AC/DC-like tempos instead of their typical 100 mph blasts. And to that end, these two tracks would sound GREAT in a bar. The title track is a sort of compromise. He strains it a bit there, but the growl is still predominant. And bits of this are pretty slow, for these guys! Is that an actual string section or faked? AH! 2:16, here they go at the usual speed! Woo! Cool slinky riff on that one.

Public Enema Number One Gives us the tempo right from the gates, and another killer riff. Dickinson’s OK ’til he gets to the chorus, then no thanks. Still, a strong enough track that fits with the rest. Fates Warning fits the Maiden template we’ve come to expect, but it’s not one of the stronger songs here. It’s one of those ones that, for another contemporary band it would have been a hit single, but for Maiden it’s just good. The Assassin isn’t as menacing as it tries to be. “Better watch out?” Haha, sure. You know who I could hear singing this song? Dio. He’d have given it the proper mix of gravity and hilarity.

Run Silent Run Deep is a great tune, another chugging stomper, but the vocals kill it. Sorry, I just can’t take that wobble seriously. I know I couldn’t do it myself, but I don’t think I’d want to. Especially that ending. Ugh. If he’d tone that down, this could have been a hits-disc track. Hooks In You is one of the most straight-on rawk tunes they’ve done, in chord changes in structure. There’s a raft of 80s metal bands that could have done this song. And man, by the end of this one, he sounds rough. Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter is one I’ve heard before. That bit around 3:20 just cracks me up. WTF. The rest is just like this album: great rock song with a singer that’s trying too hard. And finally, Mother Russia, well… I could take it or leave it. I know what they were going for, here. Playing on the sounds of Russian traditional songs, and trying to be atmospheric about it. And all deference, that guitar solo work is incredible. But as an album closer? No, not really. Maybe a b-side. I’m willing to bet there was a better song that ended up as a b-side, and swapping them would have made a huge difference.

In all, a cool Maiden record, but if I had to compare it to some of the others I’d say it’s only mediocre. I like that they’re all different. Reflections of the times and their interests, of course. This one lays back a bit, doesn’t do everything at breakneck speed. Fine by me.

* And I promise I won’t bitch about the vocals from here on out. Maybe I’ll contain it to one line, or something, for future reviews (because Mike tells me it doesn’t improve). It’s just that, for this one on the heels of Seventh, I wanted to see if things improved. They sort-of did, here.

 

And now here’s a real review. Take it, Mike: http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/18/review-iron-maiden-no-prayer-for-the-dying-1990-1996-bonus-disc/

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Now this is an album title I recognize.

All deference to fans everywhere, I was probably just tired and punchy, but I found that minstrel opening to Moonchild hilarious. So bad! Dickinson does OK with his full-on sing/yelling, but that bit there was pretty bad. Of course, after some synths and a slow build we’re off to the typical gallop. It’s an OK song, but damn that man sounds like he has a cold while he’s singing. Not a keeper, for me. Onward! Infinite Dreams starts off with an actually pretty little guitar line, and becomes a decent mid-tempo track that eventually takes off, as usual. Dickinson’s vocals are still doing nothing for me. Is he adding more vibrato or something? Or plugging his nose while he sings? Whatever. Can I Play With Madness is a song I know. Hell, doesn’t everybody? I like this one a lot. Has to have been a single. Am I right? I haven’t read Mike’s review yet.

The Evil That Men Do is another high speed rocker I’ve heard before. This one sounds like it could have been on an earlier album, and I found that refreshing. If ever there was a question about the template these guys use for their songs, by now it should be pretty clear. I’m not knocking it! I’m just saying. Next up is the title track, with its dramatic opening, wasn’t one that grabbed me. I think I know what they were trying to do – big concept song with a storyline, etc. But the vocals once again… ugh. I just cannot listen to that without cringing. Look, I understand that this is sort of the point with Maiden, right? This guys belts and warbles and everyone loves him. But everything except the chorus, here, was pretty trying, and this is a ten minute song! It’s actually a relief when it becomes an instrumental excursion. Whatever. Onward.

The Prophecy has an odd bounce to it, almost… swing! Lovely intro, mid-tempo beat, cool riff. But the vocals, again. I found myself wanting him to stop. Maybe this is just not my nght to be listening to this. It’s really not making a good impression, and all because of him. The music is fine, even with the synths scattered here and there. I might need to try this again, another day. Ah! The Clairvoyant saved it, for me. Whew! This is more like a couple of albums ago. I REALLY liked this song, it’s probably the best track on the record. But I had to wait until the second-to-last track to get it? Yeesh.

And they close it out with Only The Good Die Young? Man, this really disappointed me. Here I thought they were gonna cover Billy Joel! Hahaha. I’m kidding. It’s a very good song. If I heard it in a mix, I’d say ‘Hey! Maiden! Cool!’ On this record, it stands out as a better track, but if it was on other records this would have been lesser. And holy hell, what an intricate and beautiful middle instrumental section, and I liked the ending, as though it was not just the end of an album but also a concert. Cool.

So. Bottom line? It wouldn’t be the first Maiden album I’d tell a neophyte (like myself) to buy as an introduction. It’s still certainly a good record, but I really hope they put a leash on their singer for the rest of these records.

 

And now a real review. Mike! http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/14/review-iron-maiden-seventh-son-of-a-seventh-son-1988-1996-bonus-cd/

Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time

Man, the 80s sure had a sound. You know the one I mean – over-produced, that big and fat tone, full of synthesizers. All these metal bands went through that phase. And here’s where Maiden finally succumbed… sort of. I want to say the records before this were more raw – but that’s not right, they weren’t, not all of them, anyway. But there’s definitely something to this sound that is slicker. It’s Maiden… but different. Which is a good thing! Right? Right! 

I should temper all of these comments by saying that I am hearing all of these records within a couple of weeks, so things like that really stand out for me. I’m sure that it seemed quite natural, at the time of their release over however many years, to sound like they did each time out. 

Caught Somewhere In Time starts out like it could be any other band from the period and then bang! it’s off and running at full speed as only Maiden could manage it. What a guitar solo! Damn. Wasted Years is briliant. I don’t know why but to me it sounds like it could have been off one of those karate or fighter jet movie soundtracks in the 80s, you know? Not to diminish the song, it just fits perfect with that line of thinking. Great song – I like the lyrics’ sentiment. They’re totally right, of course. Sea Of Madness is a great fucking riff! I love how that bass is right out front with the guitars, just stomping away and then goes all slinky. I also like the middle bit, where the beat shifts to the off-beat and makes your ear work for it.  

Heaven Can Wait is another tongue-twister at very high speed. The band just smokes their way through this one. The “oh oh oh…!” section cracked me up. Maiden from three albums ago would not have had that on a song! Whatever, I have either heard this song before (was it a single?) or it just sounds like a lot of other songs by other bands from around that time. Probably both. The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner just has a great title, as a jogger I love it. I’m learning to not fall for their lovely intro sections – it always blasts into a headlong high speed metal song, so I just wait for that! Cool. This sounds more like their earlier records. I like this one a lot. One of the better songs here (so far). 

Stranger In A Strange Land. Is this supposed to be about the Heinlein novel, ‘cos I don’t really think it is. Maybe it’s just a cool title for what they’re actually talking about in the song. Shows the power of that book’s title though, eh, that that’s what I immediately assumed. Anyway, it’s another big full-on rock song at half-Maiden pace for the soundtrack feel I was talking about way up there at the top of this whole thing. And Alexander The Great is just epic. Wow. I love it when these guys do songs like this. It’s history, and huge everything , no holds barred. So fun.

I enjoyed this record, I really did. And this is still miles better than most of the other stuff out there, don’t get me wrong. But I like the sound before this better. Says the guy who’s new to all of this. In this day and age! Imagine! Well, I have Mike to thank for getting me into all of this.

And now for a real review. Mike really outdid himself on this one:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/09/review-iron-maiden-somewhere-in-time-1986-1996-bonus-cd/

Iron Maiden – Live After Death

I plugged in this record and looked at the tracklist. And you know what? That’s all you need to know that this is absolutely fucking unbelievable. A band at one of its peaks. The only way it could fail is if the recording was of poor quality, or if the versions of the songs were weak. Pfffbbbppt. With Maiden, you know it is QUALITY! This is unreal: 

Intro: Churchhill’s Speech/Aces High/2 Minutes To Midnight/The Trooper/Revelations/Flight Of Icarus/Rime Of The Ancient Mariner/Powerslave/The Number Of The Beast/Hallowed Be Thy Name/Iron Maiden/Run To The Hills/Running Free//Wrathchild/22 Acacia Avenue/Children Of the Damned/Die With Your Boots On/Phantom Of The Opera. 

That is all. And that is incredible. 

Holy shit. Those fans lucky enough to attend shows on this tour got their MONEY’S WORTH.

 

Here’s Mike’s review: http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/04/review-iron-maiden-live-after-death-19851996-bonus-cd-1998-remastered-edition/

Iron Maiden – Powerslave

Alright, here we go with the next record. Again, I haven’t read Mike’s review yet. 

Aces High is a total ripper. What energy! The band is on fire and Bruce’s vocals are just out there. Makes every hits record they issue, and with good reason. So does 2 Minutes To Midnight. Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)has kind of a dumb title, but these guys are relentless. What an instrumental track! It’s like, OK boys, we believe you, you can play like crazy and you’re amazing! DAMN.  

Flash Of The Blade doesn’t let go of the throttle at all. Just another great track.  Same goes for The Duellists. How does Bruce not trip over those lyrics? And yet continue belting it out like he does? And how are his vocal cords not ripped to shreds? At least he gets to rest during all those mind-blowing solos! And that middle section with the intricate (duelling!) staccato guitars… yeesh. Back In The Village just keeps the intensity on full. You know, I’ve been listening since the beginning of their albums, and I haven’t heard this many songs in a row at such breakneck speed. There’s always a track that breaks it up a bit, even half-speed. Not here!

The title track, Powerslave, chugs menacingly, and Bruce’s vocals  in the verses match it perfectly. This is some of the coolest singing he’s done so far, on this record – probably because it’s different from his usual delivery. The guitars are so crisp. Beautiful. And as if that isn’t enough, you get the stellar Rime Of The Ancient Mariner to cap the whole thing off. Untouchable. 

But you know the real star of this show? Not Bruce and his otherworldly vocals. Not the guitar attack that melted my brain. No, it’s Nicko on the drums. To keep up with all of that, and to do it with precision and verve… I raise a glass to this talented man. He’s the star, here. 

I loved this record. What ENERGY! The whole thing just flies.

 

Here’s Mike’s review: http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/03/review-iron-maiden-powerslave-1983-1996-bonus-cd/#comment-1896

Iron Maiden – Piece Of Mind

Again, haven’t read Mike’s review before doing this. Remember, I’ve not heard all of these songs before.

Right out of the gates, and all album long, we’re blasted with the drum prowess of new guy Nicko. Am I allowed a pun and say that between albums Maiden never missed a beat? Where Eagles Dare rules, what a great slice of metal. Definitely one for the hits discs. Revelations has this great intro and then drops into an incredible groove. Sure, it’s a quarter their usual speed, but never fear, there are the fast bits (and a killer guitar solo) interspersed in the softer parts too. Flight Of Icarus is fun, a worthy enough inclusion.

Die With Your Boots On is akin to Eagles – a total fuckin’ rocker. Great message, and an unrelenting song. I liked this one! Then follow that with The Trooper? Holy hell, what a one-two punch. This band is something else. If they’d put these two right after Eagles, this record would have laid waste to entire cities and there’d have been no need for any other songs. A killer single! Ha.

Still Life’s weirdo (backwards?) intro is sort of a bring down from the rushing surge of The Trooper, and worse, there’s a soft bit that’s way too quiet, but the song soon brings the rock back full force. An odd sequencing choice here. Quest For Fire’s intro and main riff almost don’t meet up nicely. It’s a real pull for the ear to go from one to the other, and if they ever played that sucker live, the likelihood of it falling apart seems high, to me. Fortunately, it’s the only time that happens in the track. Overall, it’s OK. Not a grabber. Sun And Steel (the title nicked from Mishima, maybe?) is a full-on rocker with philosophy to boot. And last track To Tame A Land noodles for a bit, then gets down to a chugging heavy riff before eventually taking off into a full-on blast with a couple of minutes to go. Definitely an epic. I’ve never read Dune and have no plan to do so. I have to assume they did right by it.

Piece Of Mind is another winner. It’s tough to say the whole thing is amazing, though. It’s hard to be critical of a group so committed to its vision and flawless in its execution. But when up against some of its songs we’ve come to know so well as hits, some of the others on PoM are lesser songs for this group. For any other group they’re solid gold. But this is MAIDEN and they’ve set the bar so high it’s outta sight. Says the guy sitting on his ass in his living room, playing armchair critic.

And now, a real review by a true fan. Take it away, Mike:

http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/01/review-iron-maiden-piece-of-mind-1983-1996-bonus-disc/#comment-1818

Iron Maiden – Number Of The Beast

I recently said I was too busy to write up song-by-songs on all these records. And I am. I really haven’t got the time for this. I should be sleeping – our teething baby will be up again in such a short time. But here I am at 22:00, on my second glass of a fairly nice red wine, both kids are asleep, and I have Number blasting in these good headphones and it’s AMAZING. Hells yes I gotta do this up, however briefly. I need to face the fact that once I’ve started something I cannot let it go. 

Invaders is one helluva notice served that the band will not relent. They are out to kick your ass Every. Single. Time. I Wiki’d why Di’Anno left the band, and I thought that was weak. Anyway. The introduction of Dickinson is a perfect fit; very different approach, but still bloody incredible. I loved Di’Anno’s raw punk approach on the early records. Dickinson just sounds like… Dickinson. As fans, you know what I mean. It’s that… thing that he has. Incredible.

Children Of The Damned is beautiful. It made the little hairs on my arms stand up. There’s just so much going on, and it’s so unrelenting. It ROCKS! And those vocals! The Prisoner starts out weirdly – I had to look up that intro, and I stil don’t care – but then it gets down to the rocking and that’s all we need to get our Maiden on. Another huge, pounding song. I loved the guitar solo. Air Guitar Nation! Oh yes. Onward! 22 Acacia Avenue’s chugging guitars pulled me along, thrilling as I went to those little licks and riffs over top. That middle section made me work for the new rhythm but my ear eventually caught up. I love all the work on the drums, those center-cymbal hits. Perfect.  

I don’t even need to comment on Number Of The Beast and Run To The Hills. These are total hits, and you’ve heard them a million times. Good for you. Go and make it a million and one! I do have a Hills memory: a few years ago, we went to see Tool in concert, and after the (horrible) opening act finally left and before Tool took over the stage, the road crew must have been testing out the sound system because they blasted Hills at top volume. The entire arena full of people roared and cheered and started rocking out. Incredible. People were right into a bloody RECORDING. Now THAT shows you the power of good music.

Gangland’s drums are impossibly fast. Holy shit. I played drums in a band for a while, and my arms got tired just listening to this. The energy here is just great. “Dead men tell no tales,” indeed, and those guitars on the run-down! Damn. These guys are Not Fucking Around. I loved it. Total Eclipse is a sweet mid-tempo track. It’s not the greatest song here, but every album has a song like that… WAIT! That brief middle section totally makes up for it! Yeah baby. But the rest is sort of a throw-away for this group. Sure, for any other band it’s a solid classic hit, but these guys? Just another day at the office. And Hallowed Be Thy Name? One of the first Maiden songs I ever heard. You all know it. I won’t even try to talk about its majesty.

I am sad that this was Burr’s last record with the band, whatever the circumstances. He was one HELL of a drummer. Just awesome.  

Number? Brilliance, top to bottom. But you knew that already. Fucking GREAT.

 

Here’s Mike’s review: http://mikeladano.com/2012/09/30/review-the-number-of-the-beast-1982-1996-bonus-disc/

Iron Maiden – Killers

Here we go with Maiden’s second album. All Mike would tell me was that this would be a controversial one. With who? And why? Let’s find out! Also, remember, I’m hearing a lot of these songs for the first time (to my memory – it’s possible I’ve heard them before, but I’m damned if I know when).

Ides Of March is a great, short instrumental intro that is a template for a whole tune! I wonder if they ever fleshed it out into a full tune, in later years? They should, so we’ll see, as we go on. Wrathchild comes in hot on its heels. It’s a song I know well from Mike. He talks about it a lot, sent e to it on the youtubes. It’s classic Maiden, just glorious. A high point, for sure. Murders In The Rue Morgue is a restlessly active, super-fast rocker. Woo!

Another Life’s drum and guitar line intro crashes into an blistering tune that, if they ever play it live, must be truly awe-inspiring. It could be this album’s Phantom Of The Opera. Next up is the instrumental Ghengis Khan, which sounds just like I’d imagine the soundtrack for a galloping Mongol horde would sound, perfectly realized. And then it just goes absolutely bananas between the 0:57 and 1:46 marks – whoa! The battle part, perhaps! These guys are serious players – they just keep showing us over and over again. Innocent Exile’s bass line is very dextrous, and the song itself is perfectly slinky. It’s almost bluesy in its metal crush. Loved it. Killers is a natural to follow that one, an almost template 80s metal tune. The build, the wail, the intricate guitar workout, the speed of it all. Cool.

Prodigal Son is the type of ballad only speed-metal guys could make: it’s a ballad but it’s not. It’s slower than their other stuff, sure, but there’s so much going on in the background and that ready-to-burst tempo that made me think it was gonna explode at any moment. Purgatory brings back the speed and intensity. Wow! I hear stuff like this and wonder how it all holds together. One half-beat misstep in those verses and it’d all fall apart. So cool. Twilight Zone brings back that bluesy guitar and melds it to their now-trademark metal rock blend and some great screamo vocals. And finally, Drifter is seven minutes of driving metal that lets us know that this band, even after all the work that fills this record, is by no means done with us. Tired? Who’s tired? So rest in the middle bit where it breaks down for a brief bit. Otherwise, let’s GO! This would be a great fist-pumper live, a perfect way to end a concert. But wait! There’s two and a half minutes remaining on the track… silence… then an annoying buzz until thte end! Does anyone else’s copy have this? Ugh, that wrecks it.

Simply put, there’s not as many known Maiden Hits on this one, but so what? It’s a super-cool record that well and truly rocks. I thought it was fantastic.

Here’s Mike’s Review: http://mikeladano.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/review-iron-maiden-killers-1981-1996-bonus-cd/

Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden

As mentioned in the last couple of posts, we’re going through all the Iron maiden records. Mike’s writing intelligently about them, I’m just going from my gut. Up first, their 1980 debut:

I am listening, and writing these notes, before I read Mike’s review. I want to see how we do independently. Mike said yesterday that this record totally owns the demo. I dunno, I loved the demo. Let’s find out.

Prowler … Damn, that’s fast! And the guitar’s in tune this time. It keeps the punk grit, but is more like the Maiden they would become too. Sanctuary is a great straight-ahead rocker that keeps the pace high. I can definitely notice the difference in the vocals between Di’Anno and the later Dickinson. The former is more street fight punk, the latter is more operatic and soaring. In my head, imagining Sanctuary sung by Dickinson, it’s a different song altogether.

Remember Tomorrow has a weird title – how can we remember tomorrow? It hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, it hardly matters. This song builds off a slow ballad-y opening to a blistering rocker… and back again… a template song for almost all rock in the 90s. I love the Ramones-ish drum opening of Running Free. Sure, it goes metal in places, but this one is a punk rocker at heart.

Phantom Of The Opera: what a work-out! Incredible musicianship on display here. More later-Maiden vocals. This just kills, it’s unreal. The instrumental Transylvania keeps the slinky intricacy level high while still kicking your ass. A perfect companion piece for Phantom.

Strange World finally brings things down a bit, pace-wise. The guitar work here is stunning. All deference, but it’s almost a shame there had to be a vocal track for this song. It’d stand alone just fine! Charlotte The Harlot reminds us we’re here to rock. Let’s get it on! Another straight-ahead punk/metal rocker. Woo! I could have done without the middle breakdown, though. Just let it rock! And guarding our six is Iron Maiden. Demo version or this album version, this song just kicks your ass up and down the room. Just beautiful.

Whew. This was a debut album? In my good headphones, it sounds like a band’s tenth album as a unit, so tight and composed. The violence is just barely reigned in. This record wants to stomp and destroy! I loved it.

Here’s Mike’s Review: http://mikeladano.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/review-iron-maiden-iron-maiden-1980-1996-bonus-cd/

Iron Maiden – The Soundhouse Tapes

I will be following along as Mike posts these Maiden albums – I am fortunate to have access to them all – maybe not the boots and that, but most of the official stuff. At least, I think so. Knowing Mike, he’s got a ton of things I’ve never heard of… anyway, I’ll join in when I can. I’m stoked! Let’s do this!

One small caveat before I begin: I only know Maiden’s hits (and there are many). I did not grow up listening to these guys (I was the jazz kid). I am not as deep into them as you guys are. So I won’t have the same perspective, but maybe I can add something fresh? We’ll see!

OK, Soundhouse Tapes. Their demo tape. I’ve never heard this before, so here we go:

Iron Maiden is as much metal as it is punk. It has that same raw energy and screamo-vocals. I loved this! Mike says this is an inferior version, but I like it rough like that. Long live this demo version! In fact, you say it made an album – I wonder if it’ll lose some of its beauty when it gets prettied up in a studio. We’ll see when we get there.

Invasion is also awesome! They’re incredibly tuneful and (yes, I’ll use that word again) raw at the same time. I’ve heard, hell I own official releases of 70s punk that don’t sound this good. Mike, a “lesser track?” Ha! Damn, this is a fantastic track!

Prowler… now this sounds more like the Maiden I know. But that guitar doing the snaky melody line… it’s out of tune! At least, to my ear it is. My ear wants to follow the chugging rhythm guitars but it keeps getting pulled back to the one that’s slightly off key. Anyway! When it breaks down in the middle and then takes off like a rocket WOW! This is awesome!

If I owned a record label, and I received this demo, they would be signed immediately! And I say that not knowing what they would one day become and were capable of – I mean based on the strength of these three very primal tracks, they’d be signing up post-haste. Hot damn!

Mike’s Review: http://mikeladano.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/review-iron-maiden-the-soundhouse-tapes/

Up The Irons!

My buddy Mike is insane. Well, not really. But he is an album-reviewing mad-man. He just got done chronologically reviewing every single KISS album in anticipation of their upcoming new release. Yeesh. And now, as if that wasn’t enough, he’s gonna do all the official Iron Maiden releases too. Just for FUN! 

Well, I love this. I wish him all the best in his endeavour. And I will be following along as he posts them all. But I went one step further too. I said I would listen to every Maiden record along with his reviews, and post my own comments on his blog. This way, I get a ton of Maiden in my head, but also he gets comment traffic on his blog!

And because I am a lazy sod, I’m gonna cross-post my comments here t the KMA, along with a link to his review. In case all of you wanna read what I thought about all of this stuff. 

Cool? Cool! So let’s do it to it!

Flight 666

My review of Banger Films’ movie about Iron Maiden’s world tour, in haiku form:

Maiden! Maiden! Mai-
den! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden!
Maiden! Fucking A.

rhymeallnight.com/

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