Sound — 9
Ah yes! Finally, here it is. The long awaited (for me, anyways) fifteenth studio album and final frontier for Iron Maiden. I awaited this album impatiently for such a long time, so I am going to review it. First off, I am probably not the first to say this on UG, but the rumors are in fact, untrue. I have to admit that just the word "Final" in the albums title scared me. If this really was planned to be Iron Maiden's final album, the world really would be coming to an end in 2012. Luckily, all six band members have confirmed their want and will to continue recording and touring. This is a huge relief as I have not seen them live yet. Now, on to the album. This record actually reminds me of releases like "Somewhere In Time" and "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son". Much like those two records, this album has very large musical atmosphere to it. Most of the songs are lengthy, melodic and divided into parts and movements. This album definitely takes the form of a melodic theater piece, much like most other Maiden albums. I must say that speaking for guitar tone, this is one of Maiden's heaviest releases, possibly the heaviest. That was my immediate feeling upon hearing this record. The rhythm guitar tracks are very beefy and distorted, more so than other Maiden releases. They have the usual "New Maiden" three part guitar leads harmonized over these rhythms, bringing forth a sound unheard on the previous three records. The music is done well. The sound and space are both there, allowing the record to pull you in. There are plenty of traditional metal riffs found to drive the average head banging metal maniac, there is also fundamental experimentation and creativity to satisfy the craving of the intricately influenced musician. All in all, the sound is there, and it satisfies.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics have the same sort of depth and creativity that the music does. Fifteen albums in, on top of 30+ years of experience, Iron Maiden truly know how to produce Class A heavy metal. I have had several people tell me, before and after I heard this record, that they believe that Bruce Dickinson is beginning to lose elements in his powerful voice. After hearing this, I can't quite say that I agree. I just don't think this album was written specifically for an outstanding vocal performance. Also, there isn't a single part in this album where the vocal performance drops below the level of satisfaction. It is simply put, just not Dickinson's best recorded performance. However, it is still beyond excellent. Even if Dickinson is starting to lose it a little bit, I'd like to see Trivium, or Killswitch Engage, or Avenged Sevenfold try to top them. I didn't mean to dis anyones favorite groups right there, but my point is that Bruce Dickinson holds influence over heavy metal like Mozart and Beethoven hold influence over classical music. The lyrics are nothing short of deep, melodic, and awesome. Just like every other Maiden album. Seeing as this album was foreseen by Iron Maiden as the final album, the lyrical ideas revolve around finality, or lack thereof. This is in too many aspects to count. One prime example is in the final song "When The Wild Wind Blows" which depicts the 2012 phenomenon. There aren't too many solid speculations, its just an imaginative lyrical adventure, much like any good album should be. Don't ask me to define the message of this album for you. Listen to it yourself, let it take you on your own personal journey.
Overall Impression — 9
So, In my opinion, Iron Maiden have brought on an excellent new year for themselves. This definitely isn't my favorite Maiden record, or even my favorite "New Maiden" record, but I did love it, and I am glad I invested in it. "Somewhere In Time" was my first listen to the gods of metal that are Iron Maiden, and this album reminds me of that. My favorite selections are "Satellite 15...The Final Frontier" (which upon first look in the store, looked like "Satellite Is...The Final Frontier"), "Mother Of Mercy", "Coming Home", "Starblind", and "When The Wild Wind Blows", although much like any other Maiden record, the best way is to listen to it from start to finish. If you are a true Iron Maiden fan, you will buy this album. With or without my recommendation it will find its way into your collection. You know it will, and it will be worth it. Perfect nine all the way!