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Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark CD (album) cover

FEAR OF THE DARK

Iron Maiden

 

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2.93 | 282 ratings

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The T
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is my first review as a prog-reviewer, and I've chosen this particular album by Iron Maiden because it has special significance to me. As I've said before, my introduction to what in my mind I conceive as "good rock" was The Doors; but my introduction to the genre that probably has taken most of my listening-time these last years, metal (and progressive-metal) came in the shape of two particular albums: Sepultura's CHAOS AD, and Iron Maiden's FEAR OF THE DARK. As it's pretty much obvious that I can't review the former in this website, I've decided to talk about my feelings towards one of the weakest, yet most-beloved (by me) albums in the catalogue of the group that, in my eyes, truly finished making the goal of having good metal an achievable one.

I remember how I got this CD, many, many years ago. I kind of borrowed from a friend who liked all kinds of music just because the "Iron Maiden" name had always generated interest in my mind. The covers with the ugly skeleton-like creature (later I knew what its name was) made me think that the music inside would be truly "devil's music". You know, after being raised with classical music and The Doors being the utmost declaration of "rebellion" in my then-poor musical-world knowledge, a CD with such a cover, such a name, and coming from such a "evil" band (as they were hailed) was really something quite extreme. So I borrowed the CD alongside Sepultura's album which, at least in the cover department, was far less "demonic". Little did I know that the music inside was much more violent.

I didn't immediately love Iron Maiden but I DID immediately fall in love with a particular song, the title track. In a rather absurd way of acting, I was kind of "ashamed" (please, I was VERY young) to like a track by Iron Maiden, and kind of put it aside. But time brought me back to the Irons. After all the metal that I put into my brain soon after my first experience, "Fear of The Dark" was no longer a menace nor something you had to hide. It was just music, metal music. And, I gradually realized, fantastic metal music at that. I already had experimented with lots of noise and machine-like bands like Pantera, Slayer, so Maiden's music wasn't extreme anymore, but now I could appreciate it with more musical background in my head and almost zero pre-conceptions and judgments in my mind and heart (those truly reached the ZERO years later, past adolescence, as with all of us). Years later, when progressive-metal and progressive- rock in general had crushed all of my earlier favorite bands and sent them to oblivion, only a couple of the original remained, and only one metal band stood beside The Doors as the only one I dare to put in the same level as the Dream Theaters, Flower Kings, etc: Iron Maiden. (with time finally those "levels" have disappeared allowing me to enjoy music more for what it is rather than for what some weird idea makes us want it to be).

About the album (yes, let's talk a little about it), it's not really Iron Maiden's best. In some ways is one of the worst, as it has a sound that at times reminds us of Guns N' Roses (?!), Def Leppard (?!) and other bands that, while good, are not usually what we associate with Maiden, and which write much better music in their own styles than what Maiden manages to do when sounding like them. But the few pure Maiden songs that we can find in FEAR OF THE DARK are some of the best in the catalogue, an strange happening this record where we can find true gems alongside true bore-fests.

Be Quick or Be Dead (9/10) What energy this song has! It's no wonder why Nicko McBrain is always smiling while playing: believe me, as I drummer I have tried, there's no way to play this song with a cold, uneventful face. Excellent, though maybe not groundbreaking and not as fantastic as other Maiden fast songs as "Aces High".

From Here To Eternity (6/10) Here the problems start. This song is weak, sounds like another band's, even Dickinson trying to sound different (in a bad way). A very weak song. At times it sounds like AC/DC.

Afraid To Shoot Strangers (10/10) The lack of congruence in this albums is evident here, as suddenly we encounter one of the best songs in the bands' catalogue. Divided in three sections, the first one melodic, the second epic, the third energetic and with a fantastic guitar lead, it stands as one of my favorites from The Irons.

Fear is The Key (6.5/10) This one sounds like a weak rocker by another band, not incredibly bad but so uninspired.

Childhood's End (7.5/10) The beginning sounds like Iron Maiden, that's a true Maiden guitar, the always-great Harris' bass. The song itself is not up to the level of the band's best tracks but it's enjoyable.

Wasting Love (6.5/10) The start of this track reminds us of Def Leppard's early recordings (Bringin' On the Heartbreak). Could be logical as both bands belonged to the start of what was called the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" (Def Leppard really leaving that path very soon), but this is 1992 we're talking about, Iron Maiden shouldn't sound like another band sounded 10 years ago. Not awful, but not too Maiden. For such a slow song, it should have more melody, as Maiden is capable of delivering.

The Fugitive (6.5/10) This sounds like Iron Maiden but not at their best. It has some energy but lacks inspiration. The chorus gets old very soon.

Chains of Misery (6/10) Another strange mix of Iron Maiden and a few other bands. The songs lacks a hook and the chorus could get annoying if heard too many times.

The Apparition (5/10) The worst song in the album, even Dickinson sounds weird here. The music starts very similar to "Fear is the Key" but then lacks a chorus or any good catch. Bad, bad song.

Judas be my Guide (8/10) At last we got some Iron Maiden back. The song is not truly magnificent as it's pretty generic, but it has energy, melody, a great, catchy, memorable chorus, and the guitars sound like Maiden's, not somebody else's. It's a little too short and unoriginal but just for the entertainment factor it could get even a higher grade.

Weekend Warrior (5/10) The Guns N' Roses moment in FEAR OF THE DARK, it sounds like a track straight from USE YOUR ILLUSION I, and not one of the most inspired precisely. Dickinson even sounds like a poor-man's Axl Rose at times (I think Dickinson could run circles around Rose at singing when sounding like himself, not like Rose). Another melody-less song, the other bad valley we have to walk upon before climbing at last.

Fear of the Dark (10/10) After such a weak album, the finish is nothing short of extraordinaire. From the first, haunting, menacing notes to the explosion of energy in the main part, from McBrain's thundering drumming to Murray's and Gers' magnificent guitars, from Harris' perfect bass to Dickinson's unrivaled powerful vocals, this tracks has everything a Maiden track could have, even a section that in live concerts can really be chanted along. A true anthem in all the Maiden Catalogue, it remains as probably one of my three favorite Iron Maiden songs ever, and I know it's not only because of my sentimental attachment to it, but also because it's really that good.

All in all, as uneven an album as it gets, for alongside utterly boring songs we have a couple of the best tracks the British machine ever gave us. I can't rate it lower than 3 stars, I just can't when "Afraid To Shoot Strangers" and "Fear of the Dark" are here. But I can't go higher, either. And without those two songs, this album probably could've received a truly disastrous rating. From a progressive standpoint, not the most progressive Maiden ever released, but at least it has two songs that make up for that weakness.

Recommended for: Iron Maiden fans, good metal and progressive-metal fans, good music fans, if only for a few moments throughout the record.

Not recommended for: People that can't stand heavy-metal or that can't stand their Iron Maiden sounding like a lot of bands at the same time, none of those actually being called Iron Maiden.

.But get it anyway. The two song I've mentioned till exhaustion WILL make you overcome your fear of the dark.

The T | 3/5 |

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