Sound — 7
I went out to buy this album on the day of release and living in Australia I had to travel a fair way to get the deluxe edition which comes with some bonus content. Driving back home I tentatively placed the CD in my car stereo when the fuzzy bass line starting pumping through my stereo, shortly followed by those heavily reverbed drum machine rolls. This is nothing like the Maiden I know and love but my god my heart was racing. Surely the most atmospheric and exciting opening to a Maiden album ever, 3 minutes later and ...The Final Frontier proper begins and it's off to a good start, but on first listen the song seems a little unfocused however on further listens the song has really grown on me. This album marks a departure of sorts from the more gloomy atmosphere portrayed in A Matter of Life and Death, and it certainly suits the band a lot more. The next track El Dorado is very punchy and will most likely have fans singing along when they see the band perform the tracks live. Like all the albums since the "Reunion" this album features a lot of longer more progressive tracks then the likes of say Powerslave or Piece of Mind which many of the more mature fans who were arround during the 80's glory days may not fully appreciate. It may not be classic Maiden but the band have evolved since those days and even on first listen many of the tracks on the new album stand out and don't seem to drag on. For me Isle of Avalon and The Talisman are stand out tracks featuring great work all round by the band vocally and musically. On first listen I could imagine my self screaming my self hoarse when I see the band at Soundwave in February if the band plays these songs. As well as the more progressive tracks the album also features the Alchemist, coming in at 4 minutes and 30 seconds this rates as one of the shortest songs Maiden have released in some time, it runs at a fast tempo and contains those classic Maiden twin guitar riffs, my favorite song on the album for sure. The guitar work remains as solid as ever featuring some immense riffs and a couple of golden moments in the solo department. It must be said though that some of the solos do seem a bit improvised and lack a sense of direction. Steve and Nicko shows no signs of slowing down at all in the rhythm department with both players showcasing why they are so revered in the metal community.
Lyrics — 8
Not unlike Maiden's previous effort, A Matter of Life and Death, the theme to Final Frontier's lying are often a comment on the current social state of the world and are not very upbeat in contrast to the music that backs them. This is a great thing however, it's a good balance that shows an improvement form A Matter of Life and Death and makes the songs thought provoking as well as enjoyable to listen to. Of course it would not be a Maiden album without those fantasy based songs which we all know and love but even these seem to have an underlying moral message to them. Great work by Steve and the rest of the guys on this front. Like the rest of the band Bruce is aging and unfortunately this shows more with his instrument, that being the voice. He might not be able to rip those falsetto screams that he did during the 80's but his voice is still really defined and powerful and adds a great sense of atmosphere and grandeur to the lyrics and the music over all.
Overall Impression — 7
Like all of the Maiden albums from Brave New World up, The Final Frontier is not a rehash of the great albums from the 80's that some well established bands seem to be trying to produce at the moment. Some fans are going to hate this album like they have for the past few albums. At over an hour long it can be hard to take in all in one go. I feel personally that the next album would benefit from featuring a couple more fast tempo, riff heavy songs like The Alchemist and a couple less longer progressive songs to make the album a bit shorter and perhaps a bit more catchy. That being said this album is packed full of some great moments and is definitely their greatest achievement since Brave New World and I can't stop listening to this album. UP THE IRONS!