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Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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3.87 | 246 ratings

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3 stars Iron Maiden's 'Book Of Souls' has been one of those albums I've been really looking forward to and anticipating for the last year or so, ever since it was announced in fact. After Bruce Dickinson's brush with death (his battle with throat cancer) the album was delayed until late 2015 to give the singer time to recover, which only built the excitement within me. I booked the day off work and waited at the record shop to get my copy as soon as possible...

At the time of writing this review the album has been out for just over 2 weeks. I resisted the urge to post an immediate review in the first few days of ownership and let me tell you - I'm glad I waited to give it a few more listens before writing this review...

Before I carry on I just want to throw this out there. I am a *huge* Iron Maiden fan. Truthfully, they are the single band which got me into 'heavy' music. I don't think any other band would have succeeded. I discovered this band when I was still a chubby young teenager and its safe to say that becoming a Maiden fan has had probably the biggest impact on my life to date. Everything stemmed from that first time I heard a Maiden record and the person I am today definitely wouldn't have existed without Maiden. I've expanded my music tastes widely since then, but The Beast still have a very special place in my heart.

Why mention any of this? Because the temptation is there for me to just to give this album 5 stars because its another release from my favourite rock band. Maiden could have released almost anything regardless of its musical quality, and I'd probably lap it up, as I'm sure many other Maiden fans would as well. It's hard to be subjective when discussing your idols, not least because at this point of their careers every studio album or tour could be their last, and the day when Maiden hang up their guitars will be such a sad moment...

Anyway, enough eulogising tell us about the album! It's not 5 stars. Honestly I'm not sure its even 4 stars.... The double album approach has, I feel, backfired pretty badly. There's about 50-60 minutes of really cool music here and the rest is pretty forgettable and unremarkable. I wish they'd kept it streamlined. The first two songs are great. 'If Eternity Should Fail' was actually destined to be on the next Bruce solo album but it got nabbed for Maiden. There are some lovely melodies and instrumental sections in this song and its a very promising opener! 'Speed Of Light' also is a lot of fun and harks back to an earlier songwriting style from Maiden. The music video is also ultra cool. But after the opening two things already start to drag a bit....

One of the overwhelming things people keep telling me is how much of an awesome song 'The Red And The Black' is. I wish I could hear what they are hearing, it just seems to go nowhere. Every time I sit down to listen to it my mind wanders off in a way that would never happen during 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' or 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son'. In the live setting it will probably be really cool, and I'll be singing along with everyone else, but in the studio it feels like a song going nowhere for 14 minutes and it does nothing to hold my attention.

The first disc ends with 'The Book Of Souls' which is for me a real highlight track on this album. It's moody, engaging and really diverse with its musical style. Onto the second disc, which like the first disc has some good and some not so good. I'll just jump to the really good.... 'Empire Of The Clouds'. Oh boy have Maiden recorded something amazing here. 18 minutes, the longest Iron Maiden song ever recorded and its absolutely sublime. There is no danger of losing attention during this song. Utterly captivating from start to finish and in my opinion worth the price of the disc alone. Prog fans will definitely enjoy this one...

So where does this leave us? Some of the reviews I've read around the Internet have been calling this the greatest ever Maiden album. It's not, I'm not even sure it makes the top 5.... Here's an experiment for you if you've got the time and you are a Maiden fan. Listen to either disc of 'Book Of Souls' and then immediately go an grab 'Seventh Son' and listen straight after. See what I mean? This new album is cool and I adore the fact that my favourite band are still making music and touring but for the modern era 'Brave New World' is still the benchmark. I still think you should own this album for 'Empire' but as a complete album it falls short for me.

I'm sad to do this but its 3 stars at best... I'll still be seeing them live though!

AndyJ | 3/5 |


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