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

FEAR OF THE DARK

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

2.94 | 301 ratings

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friso
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark (1992)

I've rewritten my review about this particular Iron Maiden album because I thought my previous review didn't match the quality of my current reviews. Besides that, I've regained much interest in this album since I was able to find this great double vinyl, it sound's great.

Now, about this Fear of the Dark album. The many differences in reviews are quite puzzling here. Most of the reviewers seem to agree on the fact that Iron Maiden has a very mature sound, but the quality of the song-writing and the performance of the band is debated fiercely.

After Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, which is perceived as a masterpiece of progressive metal, the band had turned to a different direction that would evoke both memories of their first albums as well as allegations about going commercial (mainly due to songs like 'Holey Smoke', 'Can I play with Madness' and the currently reviewed 'From Here to Eternity'). It is definitely truth that Iron Maiden got a more main-stream sound on the Fear of the Dark album, but by doing that they also embraced a specific art-rock sound that would mix very well with Maiden's great sounding guitars. This album always felt 'different' from all Iron Maiden albums, though X-Factor would have a resembling sound (albeit still very different due to the change of vocalist).

Fear of the Dark has it's own mind-set, a new way of doing things. 'Be Quick or be Dead' would be the heaviest opening song of all Iron Maiden albums. It's very energetic and I love the almost frantic guitar-playing in the riffs. Of course the solo's are all great! 'From Here to Eternity' is a more commercial effort with simple melodies and a stadium-rock sound, but the lyrics are actually quite funny and the way you'll hear the motorcycles during the instrumental section is actually quite exciting.

'Afraid to shoot Strangers' is the first epical track that really showcases how different this album is. The long low-volume opening section with sensible and intelligent political lyrics (quite rare in rock-music) and a brilliant melodic, bombastic instrumental ending section. The guitarsolo's are again some of the best ever played on a metal-track. 'Fear is the Key' has a distinctive, slightly dark atmosphere that some can dislike. The bridge is however very strong and the song evolves very interesting.

Childhood's End is another unique Maiden song that has a great sound a perhaps some folk-influences (in the instrumental theme). A really strong emotional effort in my book. 'Wasting Love' is a hard-rock ballad with great guitar arpeggio's in the couplet-theme. I like some of the lyrics, like: "Maybe someday.. I'll be an honest man".

'The Fugitive' is one of Iron Maiden's stronger progressive metal songs. The troubled atmosphere of the song-writing and the fear in the vocals of Bruce Dickinson are great during the couplet themes and the refrains are very strong. The lyrics about an innocent fugitive who tries to clear his name are some of the strongest of the Maiden discography. Besides that, the instrumental themes are very original and the use of acoustic guitars during some parts is very intelligent. With "Chains of Misery' the band tries to write commercially adaptable material, but fails. In this case, it isn't much of a problem; the song just has a to much of distinctive atmosphere to be suited for the masses. Still the stadium-like sound is present.

'The Apparition' is again a very original song. With a un-Maiden like atmosphere during the couplet theme on the beginning and ending of the song and a great instrumental theme in the middle it's just a bit unconventional. Again we get to listen to lyrics with a story and vocals of Bruce that show how much the song owes to his brilliant interpretation of the guitar-themes. The instrumental section is very strong and the solo's.. again.. those brilliant Iron Maiden guitar solo's. Can't get enough of that. "Judas be my Guide' is a more conventional song, but Iron Maiden presents itself as a very melodic metal act. I love the main riffs and warm, almost tender atmosphere of this song.

'Weekend Warrior' is a song that has much in common with before mentioned 'The Apparition'. Again lyrics with a political involved story (about the abuse of football hooligans) brought from the eyes of a single hooligan. "And afterward's you feel so ashamed, and after all; it's only a game!', sings Dickinson. The melodic, sensitive instrumental section of this song is perhaps the most beautiful of the album. The title track 'Fear of the Dark' is again one the strongest songs of this album. The opening double-guitar melody can rightfully be named legendary and the atmosphere of the couplet theme is a thrill. The lyrics are brought very convincingly and the refrain and instrumental sections are all as memorable as can be. The "Feaaaar of the Daaaark" ending section with it's nice melodic guitar's is a real way to treat your fans live with a feeling of togetherness. Brilliant track back then and it still is brilliant today, only topped by some of it's even more convincing live versions.

Conclusion. This is an Iron Maiden record you can really spend some time on. One day you think you know all about it, another day it seems like there's still so much more to it. With it's twelve songs, of which I would call seven songs masterpieces and five songs 'just great' it's a long album. If I'm not mistaken the first studio effort by Maiden that would be printed on a double vinyl. On the Fear of the Dark album Iron Maiden renews itself and comes with a lot of delicate song-writing, a great sound, very strong vocals by Bruce, the best guitar-solo's and many memorable instrumental parts with those recognizable twin-guitars. Still it is not a typical Iron Maiden album and even fans might have some trouble with it's distinctive approach. I fell in love (three times already) with it's diversity, it's song-writing & composition and it's professional sound and perfect production. I think I'll call it a masterpiece of prog-related metal. Recommended to every-one who doesn't claim the be the one who knows how Iron Maiden SHOULD sound.

friso | 5/5 |

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