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Iron Maiden - Brave New World CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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3.98 | 583 ratings

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4 stars Iron Maiden are a band with whom most right minded people at some stage in their lives, suitably obsessed (myself included.) With retrospect, most of their material isn't actually that good. There are however a handful of Maiden's works that tower over the rest of their discography and survive the test of time. "Brave New World" is one of them.

I need not give an account of the book by which this album was influenced. Everyone after all has read it allready. It is important however to point out that "Brave New World" is not a concept album. Only the title track is based specifically on Huxley's work; other references are to be found only in the subtleties of lyrics in apparently unrelated songs. Iron Maiden cast a vision of the future within the context of our own society, not Huxley's (consider the album cover, featuring a futuristic vision up the river Thames, yet clearly recogniseable to us today.) They do so in a manner that culminates in the creation of a masterpiece.

I see no necessity to review each track individually. It seems better to comment on the structures Maiden employ and the features of their music that chrystilise in the ten great tracks on this album, and elaborate on two that stand out.

Maiden ground their music in melodic metal style guitar riffs, often harmonized. There are enough additional facets to the band's music to make it interesting, in spite of this riff based approach. Nicko McBrain, inspired by the likes of Buddy Rich and other jazz greats, lays down a strong ride pattern behind each track. And his remarkable single bass pedal technique is ever an attractive feature of Maiden's music. Bruce Dickinson's vocals soar over a heavily charged backdrop, his voice without doubt one of the best in metal. All Maiden tracks feature a guitar solo. Whilst it may not be claimed that they are virtuoso in stature, they are non the less impressive displays, typically of legato technique.

The first track on which I would like to elaborate is "Dream of Mirrors". Clocking in at over nine minutes, features of progressive composition make it relevant to this review. Strong chords mark the opening, before a diminuendo into an atmospheric section made effective by choice of riff, underneath of which lie occasional strummed broken chords and subtle cymbal crescendos. A louder, chordal pre-chorus and chorus ensue at moderate tempo, before a return to the atmospheric dynamic. Approximately half way into the piece sees the tempo accelerate dramatically, and we are treated to beautiful interplay between harmonized guitar and vocals, before a magnificent guitar solo, capturing perfectly the essence of the song. This section sees quite remarkable single bass pedal technique from Nicko Mcbrain, that you would think he uses a double pedal. The lyrical theme of "Dream of Mirrors" is insanity. This is important, because the stranger regions of the human psyche were no stranger to Huxley, who is reputed to have experimented with hallucinogenic drugs (including LSD, apparantly taking 100 micrograms of the substance as he lay on his deathbed). "Dread to think what might be stirring..." - a lyrical reference as to the effects of such drugs on the human psyche? Perhaps.

"The Nomad" fits into an entirely different catagory of composition, seeing the creation of an almost Persian sound within the context of an Iron Maiden "epic". The final two beats of each measure during the initial figure are heavily accented in both the guitar riff and on McBrain's snare very effectivly, just one example of skillful arrangement on this track. Dickinson's vocals actually soar, gliding over towering chords in the chorus prior to the initial guitar solo. This three part solo is the first culmination of the epic, a blistering display of legato testimony to the skill of Maiden's guitarists. Between the 2nd and 3rd elements to the solo lies a brief pause, a chance to draw breath amid a tremendous spectacle.

The second culmination of "The Nomad" lies in the form of an orchestrated interlude and the instrumental cruscendo which follows. This interlude may be likened to an oasis amid the Arabian desert evoked elsewhere in the music. Underpinned by bass guitar, decoration is supplied by McBrain's interplay of cymbals. Onto this texture is built the first semblances of the cruscendo, an instrumental treat that quite simply carries the listener along with it. "The Nomad" is epic in proportion, quite outside of that which constitutes our normal conceptions of metal. If you are any sort of a fan of this genre, it is a piece you will surely enjoy.

"Brave New World" is a masterpiece of metal, containing enough proggresive elements to deserve a listings on this site. I hesitate to award five stars however; it isn't a masterpiece of proggresive rock, and cannot be likened to the giants of the prog metal genre (ironically almost all of whom have been influenced by the band.) Four stars, but an absolute recomendation to all fans of the metal genre.

Ktrout | 4/5 |


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