Sound — 9
When Iron Maiden placed a countdown timer on their website, fans all over the world got excited. Was this going to be an announcement of tour dates? Or perhaps announcement of the release date of the upcoming album? But what was at the end of the countdown was far more than what most fans would have expected: the announcement of the new album art, album tracklisting, the first single, and *gasp* an mp3 download of this new single: El Dorado.
Eddy has once again transformed, this time as an alien. Maiden has taken a bold step on the cover art of the single, with a comic book style concept and calling El Dorado the "incredible sci-fi stories from The Final Frontier". How then would this new song from Maiden fare?
Lyrics — 7
Fan reactions varied, with one extreme proclaiming this to be Maiden's best work yet in their career spanning 30 odd years, whille others criticising this as one of their worst works ever. There are also the in-between, sitting-on-the-fence fans, who say that it's not a bad song and it grows quickly on the listener.
The song starts off with a somewhat Wasted Years-inspired guitar introduction which breaks into a very melodic riff, reminiscent of Edguy's latest works - somewhat uncharted territory in Maiden's earlier works but can be progressively seen in their newer stuff. The instrument section remains clearly strong, with Steve Harris' signature galloping riffs on his bass and the harmonising axe-wielding trio. Halfway through the song, a solo featuring each individual guitarist was included, allowing them to show off their skills and influences.
As could be clearly heard from the song, age definitely took its toll on Bruce Dickinson. On first listen, I have to admit that my reaction was somewhat similar to those of the negative extreme, mainly due to Bruce's vocals. Unlike their previous works, El Dorado is void of Bruce Dickinson's famous soaring and wailing vocal parts, which was quite a bummer for me. Another gripe is also how low Bruce's vocals had been mixed, not doing his full potential justice, at times even making him sound unmotivated.
Overall Impression — 8
While this song is not a ground-breaker, it does not mean that El Dorado is not a good song. To be really honest I got put off for the first listen (and ONLY the first listen) but like songs on Maiden's previous album, A Matter of Life and Death, it slowly started to grow on me, with new discoveries with every listen. Also, unlike AMoLaD, where there was a dark overtone throughout the album (with the exception of opening track Different World), El Dorado has a lighter tone, which hopefully is an introduction to the good things to come.
Up the irons! \m/