Sound — 9
From the very first track this album with have fans surprised, and perhaps even a little confused. Those who had seen the video to the single The Final Frontier' will probably not be expecting to wait an extra four minutes for the song to kick in, but what a wait it is! Unlike anything Maiden have released before, the introduction (Satellite 15') marks a departure for the band, but one that is satisfying and has you wondering about the rest of the album. At that moment, my notion of what to expect from this release was severely challenged. El Dorado', the first release from the album, made available for download from the official Iron Maiden website, is possibly the weakest track of the selection. That isn't to say it is without its charm. After a few listens the riff begins to grow on you, and you can imagine it being played to a stadium full of screaming fans. Track 3, Mother of Mercy' does not dissapoint. After a minute and a half of Bruce singing over a beautiful clean riff the song kicks in. The solo's here are as can be expected, intricate and skilfully crafted. Coming Home' is an excellent track, featuring one of the best choruses on the album, and not a bad verse either. The track itself is a reminder of such songs as Out of the Shadows' and Children of the Damned', clean guitar verses with some fantastic solos. A track that is somewhat reminiscent of classic Maiden, The Alchemy' is the shortest song on the album and is a departure from the lengthy songs that the band have been writing over the past few years. Featuring a large section of guitar solos, Isles of Avalon' is guaranteed to please fans of old and new Maiden. Featuring a clean intro, which has become common in the band's newest releases, the song soon jumps into fifth gear. One of this reviewer's personal favourites, Starblind', following the clean intro, is a non-stop heavy metal ride. This track also sees Bruce at his best, pushing his vocals hard, and the results can clearly be heard. A beautiful clean section opens The Talisman', before, as in many Maiden songs, the full power of the band kicks in and it becomes an incredible track. A great example of the musical ability of all the band members. The penultimate track, The Man Who Would Be King' once again sees a clean intro open up into epic proportions. Another great track. Now for this reviewer's overall favourite. Coming in at over eleven minutes, When the Wild Wind Blows' is an epic track themed on nuclear war. The lyrics here are very well written and the lead guitar work here is some of the best on the album.
Lyrics — 8
This album boasts an impressive performance from Bruce Dickinson, as we are accustomed to. That said though, Bruce of course is growing older like the rest of us, and his voice is not surprisingly losing some of its edge on those high screams notable on earlier releases. But fans should not fear, as he still packs a punch, and still has one of the most distinctive voices in heavy metal. The lyrics see Iron Maiden tackling themes such as space travel, the growing economic struggle, the loneliness of touring and of course the topic of war makes a welcome return, an echoing theme from A Matter of Life and Death'. While some similarities remain from A Matter of Life and Death', the topics on The Final Frontier' are much more fantasy based. Songs such as The Man Who Would Be King' and Isles of Avalon' are prime examples of this.
Overall Impression — 9
A fantastic album, and well worth the wait. As a fan of Iron Maiden's newer work I was not disappointed with this release. Musically it is similar to A Matter of Life and Death, however the fantasy themes included in The Final Frontier make it a slightly more up-beat album. I say slightly', because songs such as When the Wild Wind Blows' and Mother of Mercy' reveal Maiden's darker side once again. Overall a must-have album for any collection.