How Do They Do It? Another Epic Iron Maiden Album
Five years and a major health crisis later, Iron Maiden return with the 92 minute epic double album ‘The Book of Souls’.
When was the last time you heard a double album? With music sales suffering in the wake of the rise of digital streaming I can’t think of a band other than Iron Maiden with the clout to release one. Recorded in late 2014, the release was pushed back as Bruce Dickinson (vocalist) was undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumour on his tongue. Luckily for us and all those involved, it appears that story is going to have a happy ending.
‘The Book of Souls’ was recorded at Guillaume Tell Studios, the same studio where the band recorded ‘Brave New World’. That could go some way to explain why ‘The Book of Souls’ sounds most similar to that sonic output. It’s not long however before you realise that this is quite a different beast. All the members of the band have at least one song writing credit and with that comes the greatest stylistic range that an Iron Maiden album has ever featured. ‘The Book of Souls’ is the most cohesive and engaging album when taken as a whole that Iron Maiden have ever made, which is frankly jaw dropping when you consider the length of time that we’ve been challenged to pay attention for.
The Bass is softer and warmer than in previous releases and while Bruce’s vocals are showing signs of mortality they are still put men half his age to shame. The guitar work is as good as we’ve come to expect from the band since they became a six-piece, with soaring solo’s and crushing rhythm work. Everything you want from a modern Iron Maiden album is here.
Album opener “If Eternity should Fall” is standard post ‘Brave New World’ chorus lead majesty. The first song we were exposed to, the single “Speed of Light”, follows. Short by their current standards, it’s absolutely sure to get the heart pumping in that way that only Iron Maiden can. “The Red and the Black” has already become a fan favourite and on any other album it would be considered very long, clocking in at over 13 minutes.
On an album as complete as this it is hard to pick favourites. The title track is very reminiscent of “Sign of the Cross” at first before dissolving into a modern Maiden masterpiece. A lot attention has been on the 18 minute long “Empire of the Clouds” penned solely by Bruce before we even heard it. And sure enough, it has redefined the word epic in the context of heavy metal.
I feel sorry for people who don’t like Iron Maiden. The same can be said by anyone of their favourite bands I am sure. But Iron Maiden have so rarely disappointed the fan base (which is a statement that cannot be made about other giants in the scene), even in their fallow period. They continue, after three decades, to release music that causes a palpable shift of mood in the metal world.
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Words by Adam Dernie