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Iron Maiden - Senjutsu CD (album) cover

SENJUTSU

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

3.81 | 56 ratings

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The Rain Man
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Senjutsu" is the 17th album by English metal prog gods Iron Maiden. First of all a brief background of my history with the band. I remember buying "Brave New World" back in 2000 and liking it. But then lost track of them and it wasn't until 2010 when "Final Frontier" came out that I would listen to them again. That was my favourite album by them up until this year. I loved all the longer tracks on the album especially. Then their next album "Book of souls" came out five years in 2015 which I also bought and was a double album. For a band that pushes their sound and their own boundaries a lot this was ambitious even for them and featured their longest track to date which was in the 20 minute ball park.

Here we are though in 2021 and now finally after 6 years we have a new Maiden album. Obviously, there was an extensive "Book of souls" tour, but they also did a tour looking back at an older album too with their "Legacy of the Beast" tour. This year thanks to Tim's Twitter listening party where two of the albums involved were "Powerslave" and "Seventh son of the seventh son" has seen me really get into Maiden in a bigger way than ever before. While I haven't got into the whole back catalogue yet. I have listened to a lot of the 80s stuff and also bought a lot of the live DVDs they have released over the years.

In terms of the build up to "Senjetsu", Maiden did make it fun for fans by giving out t-shirts to famous music friends like Frank Turner and Tim Burgees and getting them to wear the t-shirts or post on social media to create this hype wagon. There was then a countdown to specific day and time at one point which ended up being the premier of a new song which was "Writing on the wall" which was soon followed by the album announcement. "Writing on the wall" I felt shows everything which is good about Maiden; great guitar work, great vocals and all round great song composition. I did see some reaction afterwards from reviewers saying Bruce's voice has gone but I have to disagree with that. I think he still has it.

In terms of the album, like "Book of souls" this is a double album which is roughly 40 minutes per CD. 6 tracks on the first side and 4 tracks on the second side. The first 6 tracks have what I would call some of the more accessible tracks on the album and ones which would appeal to more people. Tracks like "Writing on the Wall", "Stratego" and "Days of Future past" are the shortest tracks on the album. "Stratego" I thought was alright when I first heard it but I think it's a track which fits on the album better than listening to it as an individual track. "Days of Future past" for me is a better track. It has a fast tempo kind of like "The Trooper" without being a carbon copy. For me it's a lot more of a hit than "Stratego" and I think it deserves the single treatment and definitely an appearance in their live set.

Title track "Senjetsu" sets up them album well, being the first track. The big drum comes in straight away and the 8 minutes it lasts for feels like it's over all too soon. Much like other tracks on this album. Another track on the first side is "Lost in a lost world" which is the longest track on the first side at around 9 minutes. I would say this has one of the best outros on the album as it winds down with about a minute to go with Bruce's lyrics slotting in absolutely perfectly with the music.

To be honest I think they could have gotten away with just releasing the first disc as an album itself. Yes, it's 6 tracks but it's also 40 minutes which is more than acceptable for an album. It is nicely contained, has the longer tracks and has the more anthemic tracks. I certainly wouldn't have complained if this was the album. However, if you hear the 4 tracks on the second disc you would probably change your mind. The first disc is excellent, but the second disc reaches places and moments which are out of this world and for me arguably up there with best Iron Maiden have ever done.

The shortest track on this disc is "Darkest Hour" which is still 7 minutes long. Then you have "Death of the Celts" at 10 minutes, "The Parchment" at 12 minutes and "Hell on earth" rounding off the album at 10 minutes. Now I think the best way to get across how good these songs are, is that when you look across at say 5-6 minutes through any of these songs. I don't look at it and go "Oh no another 5 odd minutes to go". At these points I'm thinking "You absolute beauty 5-6 minutes to go". These songs are all absolute epics. I must pay particular attention to "Death of the celts" as this gives me major goosebumps. The long guitar instrumental section on this is just sensational. The way the track progresses and the change in pace along with the interplay between guitarists is this best passage of music I have heard all year. "The Parchment" I feel has an uphill task following this and I think on most other Maiden albums it would stand out a lot more as it well and truly still has its moments. And when I say moments, in Maiden terms moments equals minutes. The way this song builds up and finishes with an epic guitar solo is spot on.

Overall, I think and hope this goes down as a classic Maiden album. I think it's better than "Book of souls" and "Final Frontier which was my favourite album by Maiden for a long time has now been moved off its perch. It's harder to compare it to the classic albums they did in the 80s. This is a very different beast. I have listened to this at least twice a day for the last week and I still think there is more to discover and unlock. One things for sure, if I have an hour and twenty minutes to spare in the coming months I sure know what I am going to be doing with it!

The Rain Man | 4/5 |

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