....Humanity Won't Save Us
...At the Speed of Light
But, Iron Maiden might. Or at very least keep REAL metal alive. Early reviews of their new album, The Book Of Souls signaled a juggernaut of an album. And, they weren't wrong. This double album masterpiece has all of the elements that made Maiden the greatest metal band. You could say that its a revisit to the sound of their classic albums, and that's partially true. Iron Maiden has always had the skill of a progressive metal band, but always stayed true to pure raw metal. The Book of Souls is arguably a progressive metal album. All six members are firing on all cylinders (Not that they ever weren't) has resulted in the best album straight through since Fear of the Dark. And, Bruce Dickinson has turned in his finest vocal performance since then as well. I mentioned the elements? Twin axe harmony attack, thundering bass, the trademark middle of the neck rhythm riffs, complimented by leads that are as powerful as the rhythms, epic drums, eerie synth, superb vocals (after Bruce whooped throat cancer's ass!) and of course, WHOAHS! Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers all have prominent writing roles as well.
The album starts off with in my opinion, the best opening song since Moonchild, from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. If Eternity Should Fail starts with an intense synth that leads into a driving force of a song. I bet they use to open the tour just like they did with Moonchild. You aren't really going to have any radio ready hits (despite the fact that radio sucks unless its satellite radio) like Run to the Hills or The Trooper. Although Speed of Light is VERY close to that type of song. You also get a 13 minute epic assault on the senses. The Red and the Black starts off with a creepy bass lick that is followed by the what you'd expect. Guitars, epic whoahs, and another 13 minute beast of a song. It is actually a true progressive metal song. And, that isn't even the longest song on the album! We'll get to that later.
When the River Runs Deep picks up the pace, and gets down and dirty. If Aces High, Sea of Madness and Seventh Son were to have a baby together, it would be this song. It simply rocks. The title track starts with a very heavy harmony guitar lick, and a groove that with the synth in the background makes for a monster of a song to hear live. In the song Shadows of the Valley, you might think you know what to expect. It starts off similar to the opening lick in Wasted Years, then it goes in a completely different direction. Offbeat lead licks, and blistering mid tune rhythms....and whoahs!
Early reports were saying this is a concept album. It isn't. Its a themed album, which is just fine with me. I won't say which ones, but I've been let down by a few concept albums over the last decade. Book of Souls is simply about life after death, sacrifice, and souls. All the songs have that theme to them. In fact, Eddie is a Mayan mummy in this album cover. Likely the most touching song on this album, Tears of a Clown is a heart felt tribute to Robin Williams. I say that because as far as I know, its the only song about such an inspirational figure, who left us in such a tragic way.
Iron Maiden saved the best for last on this 11 track epic album, and so did I. Empire of the Clouds makes this album that is already incredible into a 5 star masterpiece. It starts off with an amazing piano intro that Bruce Dickinson plays. He begins singing, and Nikko McBrain joins in with a marching beat on the snare drum. The song builds some more as the guitars join in and the drums are playing a whole beat. Harmony guitar solos come and provide an intro into an almost orchestral break, worthy of Dream Theater or TSO with guitar breaks reminiscent of Hallowed be Thy Name, then explodes back into another verse. You will really listen to this one and think "Did they just do that???"
Sure, Maiden has always been talented enough to do a progressive metal album, but they've never done it...Until now. And, while many progressive metal bands will have moments of filler, The Book of Souls has NO filler songs, or unnecessarily long musical breaks. Take my word for it, and buy this album. It signals that Iron Maiden is nowhere near done yet. Just like all the other great metal bands who have put out absolutely incredible albums over the past few years, Maiden has staked their flag, and let us know that the future of metal is still after all these years in capable hands. UP THE IRONS!
Wrapping it up, a friend of mine, Miss Zoe Federoff, the incredible singer of the incredible progressive metal band, Insatia said after hearing the album today "I have just now accepted a great truth about myself. I want Bruce Dickinson's babies." You don't need to go to those extremes, but you get the point. Just take our word for this. You'll dig the album!