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THE BOOK OF SOULS

Iron Maiden

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Iron Maiden The Book Of Souls album cover
3.94 | 196 ratings | 15 reviews | 31% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1: (49:58)
1. If Eternity Should Fail (8:28)
2. Speed of Light (5:01)
3. The Great Unknown (6:37)
4. The Red and the Black (13:33)
5. When the River Runs Deep (5:52)
6. The Book of Souls (10:27)

CD2: (42:13)
7. Death or Glory (5:13)
8. Shadows of the Valley (7:32)
9. Tears of a Clown (4:59)
10. The Man of Sorrows (6:28)
11. Empire of the Clouds (18:01)

Total Time: 92:11

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Bruce Dickinson / vocals, piano (11)
- Adrian Smith / guitars
- Dave Murray / guitars
- Janick Gers / guitars
- Steve Harris / bass , keyboards, co-producer
- Nicko McBrain / drums

With:
- Michael Kenney / keyboards
- Jeff Bova / orchestrations

Releases information

Artwork: Mark Wilkinson

2CD Parlophone 0825646089246 (2015 Europe)
2CD Parlophone WPCR-16750/1 (2015 Japan)
2CD BMG 538151382 (2015 US)
2CD Parlophone 0825646089239 (2015 Europe) (deluxe edition, digibook)
2CD Parlophone WPCR-16856/7 (2015 Japan) (deluxe edition, digibook)
2CD BMG 538151402 (2015 US) (deluxe edition, digibook)
3LP Parlophone 0825646089208 (2015 Europe)
3LP BMG 538153511 (2015 US)

Thanks to black_diamond for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

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The Book Of Souls [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]The Book Of Souls [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
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Book of Souls: by IRON MAIDENBook of Souls: by IRON MAIDEN
Imports
Audio CD$80.00

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IRON MAIDEN The Book Of Souls ratings distribution


3.94
(196 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(31%)
31%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (18%)
18%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

IRON MAIDEN The Book Of Souls reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars An amazing come back!!!!!

I must admit I was quite disappointed by Iron Maiden´s latest releases. They were not really bad, ok, but for a band that sparkled such a revolution in the music scene in the 80´s with such iconic and classic stuff like The Number Of The Beast and Iron Maiden, their 2000 CDs sounded more or less the same: overlong, lacking their famous energy, repetitive. In other words, not up to what they used to do so easily before. Well, I´m glad to say that finally they seem to have come up with a collection of songs that not only live up to their glorious past, but also deliver them with a kind of gut and energy rarely seen (or heard) from them for many, many years. In fact, The Book Of Souls is certainly their best since Fear Of The Dark

Their new CD sounds to me like a incredible rebirth of sorts; from the opener If Eternity Should Fail, we are presented with a song that sounds familiar, yet bringing new prog elements to their trademark heavy metal sound: atmospheric keys give introduction to the magical twin guitar leads their were famous for while Steve Harris bass is pumping great lines again together with Nicko McBrain´s drums. Then Bruce Dickinson comes in with gusto and his voice is in top form. It´s been a long time since I listened to such vigorous and inspired guitar solos from them. sudden tempo changes, varying rhythms and tasteful power chords abound. It reminded me of the times when IM could do no wrong and every note seemed to fall evenly on every spot. It is also ok that there is few novelties apart from the massive Empire Of The Clouds (see more below).

Certainly the album is not perfect: the shorter songs are not as powerful as the long ones, yet none is weak either. The first single, Speed Of Light, is probably the link between their latest offering, The Final Frontier and their new found return to form. But it is also just that a small clue, since the band has a lot more to offer and in at least two moments they truly were able to produce another Iron Maiden classics in the form of the epics The Red And Black and Empire Of Clouds. The former is a 13 minute piece that pretty much sums up the best the band had to show up till some years ago, meaning that it has all Iron Maiden traits and clichés, yet it sounds fresh and exciting. The latter however, is really the piece of resistance of the whole CD: an 18 minute opus where the band boldly goes where they never have been before. A truly prog metal epic, it starts with an acoustic piano and violin (!), then slowly building up to several parts that takes to a great ride where all the band members shine until the grand finale. That track alone is worth the price of the CD.

It´s amazing how energetic ant tight the band sounds after all these years. The songwriting is again top notch, varied and creative, helped by a very organic production and stunning performances. Not a dull moment in the whole album. And that´s a lot to say for a double CD with over 90 minutes of music!

Conclusion; it is so nice to see a classic band finding their muse again. Iron Maiden seems to finally merged seamlessly their early 80´s energy with the more complex, progressive streak of latter days.

I wish all classic bands around could rejuvenate like this.

Rating: compared to their masterpieces of the 80´s The Book Of Souls is a four star affair. However, nowadays itis just too good astonishing work to deserve less than 5. Highly recommended!

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK band IRON MAIDEN is a group of musicians that hardly needs an introduction. With a history going back to 1975 and with a grand total of 16 studio albums to their name, of which the greater majority will be regarded as essential listening by anyone with a taste for metal, this is arguably one of the greatest metal bands in the world still, a brand name strong enough to be recognized even by the greater majority of people who have never listened to the band. "The Book of Souls" is their most recent studio album at the time of writing, and was released in September 2015 through UK label Parlophone.

This is a production that have been highly anticipated by the metal community in general and Iron Maiden fans in particular. Five years have gone since their latest studio album, and as Iron Maiden have been on strong form ever since vocalist Bruce Dickinson returned to the band back in 2000, there has been a demand for new material by them, even in these days of declining sales and a lessened emotional attachment to music in general. That the band members have heralded this album as their possibly best ever is to be expected, most artists will state such opinions when they release new material, but the manner in which the members have talked about the almost 20 minutes long concluding epic have been creating quite the buzz, as well as the fact that this is the band's first ever double studio production.

Personally I have found most Iron Maiden albums to be something of a roller-coaster ride, with exceptional songs, good songs and passable songs making out their albums, with a few filers tossed in on occasion. I have much the same impression about this production, not quite as good as the band have been when firing on all cylinders, but just as strong as the greater majority of the albums they released back in the classic NWoBHM era.

The opening trio of If Eternity Should Fail, Speed of Light and The Great Unknown didn't entice me all that much. Pleasant Iron Maiden creations exploring their atmospheric laden, pace-filled and majestic territories respectively, with my main impression being that too much relies on enjoying Dickinson's vocals on these songs with too little substance and nuance provided by the instrumentalists. As always with splendid guitar solo runs though, and those truly fond of that aspect of Iron Maiden will find these songs as well as this album as a whole to be a splendid ride through and through I imagine.

The Red and the Black marks the first high point for me, a classic "...Mariner" epic with a nifty recurring riff motif looking back at the band's sound from the early 80's as an additional treat, and with a recurring vocal details that is bound to be a future concert favorite. A track that have all the trademarks of becoming a staple in their live set until the band at some point decides to call it quits. The following When the River Runs Deep is for me the low point of this production however, a composition that for me doesn't have anything much memorable apart from a nice guitar solo run, something Iron Maiden appears to be capable of producing in their sleep.

Title track The Book of Souls is for me the standout piece of the album, with powerful riff driven sequences, a spectacular and subtly exotic sounding guitars and keyboards arrangement in the opening half that is goosebumps-inducing, a nice run of compelling guitar solo and riff sequences, with a frail guitar motif opening and ending this magical ride.

From here on and until the end I find the songs to be generally enjoyable and of a high but not magnificent quality. Death or Glory is a nice run through a compelling energetic sound with a strong chorus as the icing on the cake. Shadows of the Valley have some direct references back to classic tracks from the "Somewhere in Time" album musically, lyrically and in terms of quality to in my opinion, while Tears of a Clown and The man of Sorrows both see Iron Maiden exploring their sound with more of a poignant and mournful tinge, much due to the topics covered in those compositions I suspect. The former of them with slightly more of a toned down instrument arrangement, the latter initially with a ballad-tinged expression and then unfolding as a mid-paced affair that wouldn't have been out of place on an album like "Sevent Son...".

The massive Empire of the Clouds is an impressive piece of work. Dealing with a subject matter presumably close to the heart of singer Dickinson, as he is a pilot as well as an admirer of airships: He has actually invested in firms working towards relaunching airships as a viable alternative to commercial transportation of people and freight alike. The opening third of this epic construction is one filled with gentle piano movements, violin details, orchestration, plucked guitars and occasional marching drums besides the lead vocals, and as some key members of Iron Maiden are fans of progressive rock I suspect the numerous subtle instrument details with more than a subtle trace of Jethro Tull in them in tone or delivery is an accidental feature either. This unfolds into a majestic epic where orchestration and piano details supplements the key Iron Maiden sound quite nicely throughout, in some passages as constants and in others as more subtle or occasional flavoring, briefly returning to the gentler opening themes again prior to the conclusion. Thoroughly entertaining and extremely well made, but not quite at the level of Iron Maiden at their most breathtaking my personal opinion.

In sum this is a recommended purchase. If you are a fan already I guess you'll have bought this one already, if you haven't this is an album worth buying. Probably not a production that will be regarded as their finest moment in retrospect, but at least for me this is a production comparable in quality with the classic Iron Maiden albums of the 1980's. And if there are people out there who haven't yet heard the music of Iron Maiden, this CD is as good a starting point as anything else.

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)

The Beatles of heavy metal return with double cd that will surely please fans, but will leave others thinking if the band isn't becoming TOO Iron Maiden. Longer tracks, more lead themes, more lyrics, more mandatory solo's (you'd better still love Adrian Smith's smoosh smoosh lead guitar) and more of the same Brave New World sound production by Kevin Shirley - who is perhaps heavy metal's greatest plague of the 21th century. Every album until even 'X-Factor' (which I recently started listening to again) except for the troubled 'No Prayer For The Dying' had had its own specific sound and atmosphere, but in the 21 century all five Maiden albums have sounded alike and therefor a bit flat. To me this album again sounds like a great amount of musical power pushed into a tiny tin can. Furthermore, Kevin Shirley has managed to make the band sound a bit amateurish and unsteady.

But let us not only focus on the production. This is after all still an Iron Maiden record! By now the band is totally immersed in its own universe of songwriting as if it were a genre. To compensate we find an openingsection of 'If Eternity Should Fail' with eighties keyboards and some acoustic guitar, some spanish bass-chords on 'The Red and the Black' and the surprising use of piano an cello on the eighteen minute 'Empire of the Clouds'. In interviews the band has described the writing process as working with 'baskets of ideas' put into songs in the studio with the band playing in a live-in-the-studio setting. Both band and producer are happy with this approach. Sometimes it seems to work but the band has totally left the idea of writing a good song. You know, that tight unit in which every element has a part to play and where the guitar solo fired us up for something. To me a lot of material in these tracks sounds mandatory, like the often lifeless solo's and the endless twin leadguitar themes. This doesn't stop some refrains from being very catchy and some themes like the symphonic part in 'The Red and the Black' being exciting, but in the end it comes across as a bit unthoughtfull and unfinished.

Don't get me wrong. I would still love to have a favorite 21th century Iron Maiden album but the band will have to start writing songs again and play them for a while before recording them - with a proper producer. Motorhead, Judas Priest and many others have sounded great the past ten years, so can Iron Maiden. Because of the lack professionalism I can't give more then three stars, though 'the buckets' had some nice ideas in them.

Review by FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'll confess two things right off the top here: one is that I loved Iron Maiden in the early 1980's and the other is that I didn't buy any of their albums after "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". I really enjoyed and still enjoy the debut, "Number of the Beast", and "Piece of Mind". I don't have "Powerslave" anymore but I want to get it. It was my second concert to go see and I still have the T-shirt. But "Somewhere in Time" didn't impress me and "Seventh Son" didn't do much for me either (though I have it on CD now and I think it's pretty darn brilliant). Some of my favourite songs are "Revelations" from "Piece", "The Prisoner" and the title track from "Beast", and "Phantom of the Opera" and "Remember Tomorrow" from the debut. I think it was the synthesizers that began showing up on every metal album after Van Halen's "1984" that bothered me. Well, okay, not the thrash and speed metal bands, but those I had loved in '83/'84 were suddenly playing around with pop music synthesizers, and it had been the guitars all along that had drawn me to metal.

Iron Maiden's history has been a trip of twists and turns since 1987. Adrian Smith left and then Bruce Dickenson left. Then they both came back. I have only heard one song from the intervening years between "Seventh Son" and this latest release, "Book of Souls" and it was a live version of "Fear of the Dark". I had a ticket to see Iron Maiden perform in Saitama, Japan on March 13th, 2011, but as the band was flying in from South Korea on that fateful Friday the 11th, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. Ed Force One redirected to Nagoya where the band watched the news footage of the earthquake and ensuing tsunami disaster and decided that this was no time to hold a concert because this was no time to celebrate or party. They cancelled the show and have not been back to Japan since.

So the new album comes out, and I am not particularly thrilled. Just, "Oh, Maiden have a new album. Hm." But then I see the packaging: a hard cover book inside a slip case. The artwork looks intriguing and I think that I have to have this. Hey, Iron Maiden should still be good, right?

Well, Iron Maiden sounds exactly as I expect them to. One reviewer said that this is the album that should have followed "Seventh Son" and for my ears I have to agree. As I said, I don't know what Maiden did between 1987 and 2015 but for all I can tell they simply hoped aboard a time machine and came over to 2015 after wrapping up the Seventh Son tour. Well, of course Janick Gers is on board, too, now and has been for rather a long time.

Yes, this sounds just like classic Iron Maiden, so much in fact that I couldn't help but notice the guitar sound hasn't hanged since the 80's. The riffs, the song structures, Dickenson's voice, just about everything sounds like this is the next album after "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". In fact, as I listened to "The Great Unknown" I found myself thinking to the middle part of the "Seventh Son" title track. The beginning of "Shadows of the Valley" reminded me of "Wasted Years", and some of the long instrumental sections of some songs like "The Red and the Black" are very much like things you'd here on "Piece of Mind".

Hearing so much similarity to past glories makes me wonder if the band has evolved at all over the last 30 years or are they still following the same formula? Then again, maybe they just went back to their classic formula because it was time. Didn't Deep Purple, Voivod, and Black Sabbath do the same on their recent releases?

Well, there may be synthesizers on this album, too, but by now I have come to not only accept them in metal but actually enjoy hearing them in the right context. I'm glad for their use on this album. But seriously, the biggest thrill here so far has to be the epic historical number, "Empire of the Clouds". I had to read the Wiki article about the R101 and I also read about how Dickeson had purchased at a charity auction a piano used by Jamie Cullum and later used the instrument to compose "Empire". The song is quite beautifully structured and the story well told, sticking to history while still sounding poetic as Dickenson said he wanted. The orchestra is a great touch as I always thought that Maiden's metal would work well with an orchestra or performed by an orchestra. "Empire of the Clouds" is in my opinion a fantastic piece, but I do love most of the songs on the double album as I listen to them. Some instrumental sections go on for a while without introducing anything that hasn't already been done ("The Red and the Black" for example) while other songs like "Tears of a Clown" tamper with unusual time signatures. Iron Maiden is not prog metal in the way that Dream Theater or Opeth are, but I have always appreciated the extended instrumental sections that aren't just guitar solo showcases. Also, Maiden didn't often drop many kick ass riffs as I always felt they went more for a classical type of riffing that rarely hits with a wallop and usually lays out a musical landscape with a warm and steady path to follow. But they find space to deliver a few good 'uns here and there as on "Speed of Light" and "When the River Runs Deep".

I think the album sounds great. It's what I'd expect to hear from this band. I like the longer compositions and that there is careful attention to each of the songs. For that I give this baby an easy four stars. But after 30 years I'd have expected to hear something new, more than just piano and an orchestra. But on the other hand, it's great to hear Maiden sounding like Maiden. I'll get "Powerslave" on CD soon and I've got "Brave New World" on standby to order, too.

Now when are they coming back to Japan?

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I had to look it up after a couple of listens as I felt this must be a concept album but apparently it's not, rather the theme of "souls" does appear on many of the songs. Even the album cover with Eddie looking like a Mayan relates to the souls of mankind. This was recorded in Paris where they did the "Brave New World" record which was the last MAIDEN album I gave 5 stars to. Considering i'm an IRON MAIDEN fanboy it did take me several listens to even enjoy what I was hearing. I still feel this double album is hit and miss but thankfully more hit for my tastes. I'll list my top five tracks as I take a look at each song.

"If Eternity Should Fail" opens sounding like we're in the theater watching a Western as almost spoken words join in. It sounds really good when the song kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes, I love the rhythm section. The instrumental section after 5 minutes is amazing and it lasts about a minute. The song ends with words from the Harvester of Souls. "Speed Of Light" is okay, it's a five minute barn-burner and the chorus is repeated a lot like on the first track. These two opening songs are good but not great in my opinion and they didn't help in me getting into this recording at first. "The Great Unknown" is a top five song for me. I really like the intricate guitars and atmosphere to open as almost spoken vocals join in. It kicks in hard after 1 1/2 minutes. Nice!

"The Red And The Black" is another top five track. That classic galloping rhythm with those passionate vocals really impress me. Hey there's the vocal melodies as well that Bruce does so well. Killer track. "When The River Runs Deep" is another good one especially the instrumental section. Some ripping guitar after 4 1/2 minutes. "The Book Of Souls" is another top five and the final tune on disc one. This one is dark and nasty the way I like them. Again the instrumental section here kills starting before 6 minutes.

"Death Or Glory" opens disc two as a catchy uptempo track that cooks. "Shadows Of The Valley" is another top five that opens sounding like "Wasted Years" with that guitar intro. The drums and vocals join in and this is intense. I like the chorus and the guitar before 7 minutes. "Tears Of A Clown" is a tribute to Robin Williams and I like the deep bass and drum sound. Another catchy tune with another good guitar solo after 3 minutes. "The Man Of Sorrows" is my final top five pick. I really like how melancholic and dark this is. Check out the heaviness before 3 1/2 minutes.

"Empire Of The Clouds" is the 18 minute epic that most Prog fans love. I find it kind of wordy especially early on when the pace is slower and Bruce almost speaks the words of this interesting story. Lots of piano early on as well and later on too. The tempo picks up 8 1/2 minutes in and then it becomes more powerful 2 minutes later. I like the guitar before 12 1/2 minutes and when the vocals return they do sound a little strained. This song just doesn't convince me.

Still there's so much that I really dig about this album and I feel that 4 stars is the right rating for my tastes.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Book Of Souls" is the 16th full-length studio album by UK heavy metal act Iron Maiden. The album was released through Parlophone (UK) and through Sanctuary Copyrights/BMG (US) in September 2015. It's been five years and a lot of touring since the release of "The Final Frontier (2010)", but the release of "The Book Of Souls" was also postponed slightly as a consequence of Bruce Dickinson's cancer treatment. "The Book Of Souls" was recorded with producer Keven Shirley at Guillaume Tell Studios, Paris from September to December 2014. The same studio the band used when they recorded "Brave New World (2000)". Iron Maiden opted for a slightly different recording and writing method than usual as all members came in with about an hour of material, and many tracks were then constructed or finished in the studio based on that material. So many of the tracks were recorded in a few takes and with very little time to practice or perfect parts, which was an intentional choice to allow for a more organic and immediate sound.

At the end of the day Iron Maiden had enough material for a double album release, which is a first in their discography (not counting live albums). Featuring 11 tracks and a full playing time of 92:11 minutes, it's also the longest studio album yet released by Iron Maiden. Stylistically the music on the album pretty much continues the band's post 2000 style, which means the album features only a few fast paced rockers, a good portion of heavier mid-paced tracks, and quite a few long epic tracks. Among the latter their longest track yet in the 18:01 minutes long closing track "Empire of the Clouds". It's fair to say they've developed a taste for more proggy/epic compositions over the years. They used to only have a couple of slower epic sounding tracks on each of their albums, but now that's more or less the dominant style.

It's no surprise that the musicianship is of high class on all posts. Iron Maiden are seasoned heavy metal veterans and they know how to play and sing. While they are veterans, they are certainly no dinosaurs, and their performances are delivered with both passion and conviction. So it's mostly in the songwriting department that things have changed over the years.

The material on the album is generally of a high quality. To my ears the highlights are "If Eternity Should Fail", "Speed of Light", "The Book of Souls", "Death or Glory", "The Man of Sorrows", and the Bruce Dickinson penned epic closing track "Empire of the Clouds". The rest of the material ranges from good to decent, but doesn't stand out as much as the mentioned tracks. The overall quality and flow of the album is good though. Stylistically most of the material doesn't feauture anything surprising. As always there is a strong emphasis on melody and memorability. There are a few surprises in store for the listener though. "The Man of Sorrows" is for example a very dark sounding Iron Maiden track, which is refreshing, and "Empire of the Clouds" features piano and orchestra, which as far as I remember is a first for Iron Maiden.

"The Book Of Souls" features a pretty well sounding production. The guitars could have packed a bit more punch, but other than that the sound production is well sounding and suits the material well. So all in all this is another quality release by Iron Maiden. As with most Iron Maiden releases post 2000, you should adjust your expectations to what it includes though. There are only three relatively fast-paced rockers featured on the album, and the rest of the material is mid- paced or slow building and epic (although some sections can be faster paced). It means that the material generally requires more attention and more spins to settle, than the more immediate material from their "classic" 80s period. But if you can adjust your expectations to that "The Book Of Souls" is quite the enjoyable listen and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE Team
4 stars As the heavy metal universe which i opine to have begun around 1970 is well into it's fifth decade as it has expanded from the initial big bang to a vast array of styles that continues to branch out and ever further expand, it is no longer sufficient for one to claim they are a metalhead for these days you have to broaden that statement to include which particular branches of metal you prefer. In my opinion IRON MAIDEN has somehow become the default setting and unofficial mascot of the entire metal universe for i have yet to meet any serious heavy metal fan whether they are into doom, death, black or simply old school classic metal that doesn't have a liking for a few classic MAIDEN albums. From their humble beginnings they were cranking out kick ass material that married all the best elements of heavy music and fast forward to 2015 to their 16th full studio release BOOK OF SOULS and this band that refuses to slow down releases another top notch high quality album that i find to be their best since their classic heyday period ending with "7th Son Of A 7th Son." While other bands that began in the 70s have mostly called it a day or are impudent shriveled foreskins in relation to their glory days, IRON MAIDEN surprises us with a sprawling double album that not only takes cues from every trick in the IRON MAIDEN playbook but expands those signature sounds and ushers them into 21st century relevance like few classic bands have. No viagra needed.

I have to admit that i have always seen MAIDEN in a sort of brotherly competition with the other NWOBHM heavyweight Judas Priest, but while Priest has been consistent in delivering albums that have many good tracks i more often than not find there to be a bit of filler that either should have been reworked or weeded out altogether not to mention they fail miserably when incorporating progressive ideas into the mix such as on "Nostradamus". MAIDEN on the other hand pretty much delivers on the goods with only the Blaze Bailey years being an aberrant twofer punch for albums that failed to present the high quality of musicianship and songwriting that we have become accustomed to. This brotherly competition between MAIDEN and Priest seems even more glaring as both bands released in the last couple of years albums with the "SOULS" in the title. It seems these two bands have reached a similar musical crossroads in their respective careers as Judas Priest seemed to revel in celebrating their entire canon of trademark sounds on their 2014 album "Redeemer of Souls" while a year later IRON MAIDEN manages to do the same by not only incorporating the various aspects of their past but sprinkles them with 21st century pixie dust and offers an album that is yet another milepost in the metal history books.

The album starts off with the classic "7th Son" type synthesized ambience (which is prevalent throughout the album) while Bruce Dickinson displays his mostly unaccompanied vocals that don't seem to have changed one bit since he first hit the scene with "The Number Of The Beast." With an ambience and metal performance that sounds a bit like "The Clairvoyant" from the "7th Son" album, it is clear that MAIDEN is back with a vengeance and with this album they can indeed revisit the past and one up the whole thing with their usual expected philosophical lyrics in top notch form along with the mandatory gallops, chord progressions and excellently executed metal delivery. This classic era lineup proves they have the chemistry that passes the test of time and their chops are immune to the corrosive properties that several decades more often than not erodes. After the super strong opener "If Eternity Should Fail" brings us back to their past and proves to us they still have that special musical mojo in play, the semi-progressive 8:28 track takes a turn with a strong percussive outburst and a little interlude that adds new musical twists and turns before resolving itself with the familiar established repeated chorus backed up by the addictive triple guitar harmonic assault of the three guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers. The track ends with an unaccompanied acoustic guitar with a highly processed spoken lyrics that add a bizarre outro. MAIDEN IS BACK!!!! This is for real :P

After the initial shock and awe sinks in, the band deliver their most retro of all tracks with "Speed Of Light" that would easily have fit in on the early Dickinson year albums such as "The Number Of The Beast" or "Piece Of Mind." The catchy 80s classic metal verse / chorus / bridge formula offers few surprises but does once again cement the fact that MAIDEN can easily match the best of their glory days and then some. The track ends very much like the style heard in "Run To The Hills" where the band finds a way to masterfully milk every last note and cadence until it is perfectly sacrificed to the silence that separates the tracks. "Speed Of Light" is also the first official single and one of the absolute coolest videos i've ever seen showing Eddie evolve throughout the history of video games. Simply brilliant. The album is now firmly established with a somewhat retro feel that liberally borrows from their entire discography. As we get to the third track "The Great Unknown" we are once again treated to the classic song structures that include all those addictive ingredients: metal gallops, wailing melodic vocals, pummeling bass and drums, alternating softer and heavier passages etc.

But then beginning with "The Red And The Black" we get a strange new style of guitar playing as an intro before breaking into a riff that reminds me a bit of cross between "Flight Of Icarus" and the chugging of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" with excellent alternating sections of Bruce's vocals and a background chorus whipping out the "oh-oh-oh's." This track has lots of cool twists and turns but unfortunately the multi-minute soloing at the end is one of the few aspects of this entire album that wears thin on repeated listens. It's the kind of stuff that makes for a great live setting but when listening repeatedly in an album format seems to irritate me even though i love soloing in general.

As the album continues there are more references to previous past glories such as "When The River Runs Deep" with a riff that sounds like "Be Quick Or Be Dead," parts of the title track borrow from "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)," "Shadows Of Glory" starts out suspiciously like "Wasted Years" with that high guitar string riffage, "The Man Of Sorrows" vaguely reminds of "To Tame A Land" at times etc. but the album stays very consistent in delivering high quality riffing, bass abuse and lyrical content. While it may be true that perhaps Bruce Dickinson doesn't quite have the range he used to, the fact that the band has opted for a drop D tuning keeps him firmly in command of the range of the musical progressions that we expect. There's even an 18:01 musical behemoth that sees Bruce Dickinson playing piano and despite this first for the band in both the choice of piano and longest track ever, this still rings of a classic MAIDEN track melodically, rhythmically and in lyrical content. They seem to be unable to bugger up a song no matter how many new elements they throw out and to think that most of this album was created spontaneously in the studio with only a mere scaffolding of ideas at the work table.

So all in all, i love this album and have not been this excited about an IRON MAIDEN album since at least "Brave New World." Not that the others in between were bad by any means but they were not nearly as consistent as this one and haven't demanded repeated listens like this one has whispered in my ear. Like most of MAIDEN albums BOOK OF SOULS has the hooks that instantly grab me and the subtleties keep me coming back for more. This album cries out to me to be yet another classic that successfully reflects past glories and also establishes a relevant future but also casts a shadow of doubt upon the future of the band. With Bruce Dickinson's cancerous tumor rearing its ugly head which delayed the album's release it seems as if it could have possibly been the impetus for a creative spree that would be the perfect album to end a long career on. While i hope this not to be the case, a part of me fears it to be true. If this indeed turns out to be the last offering from one of the best bands in history then it would be the a pleasant note to end upon for they have set the bar pretty high here and what i fear more than the band calling it a day would possibly be a string of inferior albums that tarnish the greatness of the past. A near perfect album for me with only few minor blemishes. Yes, it borrows liberally from the past and is not an album that invents a new style of metal, but with a past so wonderful to meld together i really can't complain one bit when it's put together so very well. For me this is another classic album. Pretty damn good accomplishment for their only double studio album. MAIDEN!!!!!

4.5 but rounded down because it's not quite a perfect album

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Whilst Iron Maiden have never gone full prog metal, they've included progressive elements in their songwriting throughout their career to varying degrees with Seventh Son of a Seventh Son the high water mark of this tendency... until now. A sprawling double album replete with epic tracks, including the soaring 18-minute closer Empire of the Clouds, the Book of Souls finds Maiden taking their post-Brave New World purple period to new heights.

Inspired by Bruce Dickinson's love of aviation and completed despite the terrifying health scare he underwent during the process of preparing the album, it's another classic work in the band's discography which should silence any suggestion that they've been simply repeating themselves of late.

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars My favorite metal band is back with their biggest and perhaps most ambitious album yet. Like almost everything the band has produced, it is quite good, and has the band's signature sound is always a treat. That being said, Book of Souls takes some interesting chances here and there, giving it moments to stand out as unique among the band's lengthy discography. As a group that is, let's face it, getting pretty old, I think this is a great choice. They've got nothing to lose, and their recent releases (since Brave New World) have all been great. While Book of Souls is receiving some prog street-cred, my enthusiasm for it is not as strong as previous albums. This time around the band actually starts to show their age, creating songs that miss that spark of energy that makes Maiden music so exciting. For fans of the band, this hardly matters, because even mediocre Maiden (which this is not), is still a blast; however, Book of Souls is definitely not the crown-jewel in the iconic group's regalia of metal masterworks.

First off, this is a two-disc album. High-five. That's awesome, even if just for bragging rights. The songs are dense, highly melodic, and actually pretty varied. There are some down-tempo tracks and moments within extended works that standout as being different than the group's comfort zone. Personally, I think that songs on Final Frontier were more ambitious and effective, but the writing here is, in general quite good. Ironically, it's the band's performance itself that doesn't do it for me. Soloing feels routine, and there are few "wow" moments that grab the attention. Still, the band's rousing melodic moments are thick, heavy, and frequent; they're appealing even if not as electric as I'd hope.

Dickinson especially seems to miss as often as he hits, and it pains me to say it... he's sounding tired. This may have to do with his health issues during the time leading up to this album. Don't take me wrong, he's not bad or enjoyable, but there's a noticeable loss of power during his "fortissimo" moments. This, combined with the unchallenging and forgettable lyrics, is a strike against Book of Souls for me. Where the instrumentalists show restraint and maturity throughout, Bruce just seems to be unable to stop singing at times, going on and on with dense lyrics.

The first disc stands out as a solid collection of songs; they're energetic, exciting, and dramatic. The second disc, including the band's longest song ever, "Empire of the Skies," is much less interesting for me. It's sort of plodding, and lacks the musical ideas to sustain its long running time. Disappointing given the band's streak of success and novelty of the extended release format within their discography.

All in all a worthy release, especially for Maiden fans, though I find myself more excited about their previous 4 albums. Given their age, and musical landscape of the times, it's great to see Iron Maiden still successful and still growing.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

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4 stars "The Book of Souls" is the sixteenth studio album from heavy metal giants Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden is a band that needs no introduction, as those who aren't metal-heads have probably at least heard the name. Iron Maiden's long-awaited sixteenth studio album is an album of multiple firsts for the ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#1532165) | Posted by Pastmaster | Wednesday, February 24, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Iron Maiden, still relevant after all these years, when many of the their peers long faded away, returns with a double album that has three 10-minute songs, can only be good, right? Well, yes and no. Its nice to see that the epic metal veterans haven't lost a bit their knack for killer intros, v ... (read more)

Report this review (#1497920) | Posted by Progrussia | Wednesday, December 9, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fantastic recording and the best 2000s-era offering since "Brave New World." Some takeaways: - This one is a "grower" as it took over a week of repeated listens to really get it. Now it's a classic with such epics as The Red and the Black,, the title track, Empire of Clouds, Great Unknown, Ri ... (read more)

Report this review (#1476164) | Posted by Timdano | Thursday, October 15, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1464242) | Posted by AndyJ | Thursday, September 17, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A truly superlative effort from Iron Maiden. I put "The Book of Souls" as the best and most consistent effort since 2000's "Brave New World" (another phenomenal album). Maiden flexes their prog muscles in many stretches on this record, particularly in "The Red and the Black" which is an instan ... (read more)

Report this review (#1461346) | Posted by Umph1348 | Wednesday, September 9, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars As most of you know, Iron Maiden is one of the greatest and most popular heavy metal bands since the '80's. During their very long musical career, they released some albums that can be characterised as the "cornerstones" of Heavy Metal. But all that happened a long, long time ago. Speaking f ... (read more)

Report this review (#1458513) | Posted by The Jester | Wednesday, September 2, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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