Sound — 10
Iron Maiden has always been a very poetic, melodic, awe-inspiring group... Almost contradictory to what you expect from a metal band. Needless to say, they're incredible. An unstoppable force in music, if you will. Call my choice of wording silly, but it's true; not a single Iron Maiden album has been released to which I've had the slightest bit of contempt towards. 01. "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier": The album kicks-off with this interesting piece. The intro is essentially the only worrying bit, as others have noted. But mind you, it's well worth the tease to hear the band explode with yet another incredible performance. 02. "El Dorado": This song starts with a roaring introduction. It's as if a thousand wild steeds are thundering towards you. Cheesy analogies aside, I have to say, the song gets better and better as you listen. "El Dorado" is a very cynical song in musical aspects, as well as lyrical. The riffs during the chorus are bittersweet with Dickinson's vocals. I think some fans received the song badly as it strays from an older Maiden sound, and moves into unexplored territory. This doesn't stop Adrian, Dave, and Janick from delivering the always expected solos, wailing and crying with excitement. 03. "Mother Of Mercy": Similar as far as sound goes to "El Dorado". I honestly can't think of tons to say of this piece, but that doesn't mean it's not an awesome song. Lots of great bass, the rhythm of this song is dead on. Again, Nicko gives this album his best drumming skills. Can't get enough of him! 04. "Coming Home": "Coming Home" is a fresh breath of optimism. They switch from (as I stated) a very cynical outlook, to such memorable lyrics telling what seems to be almost a fantasy from the perspective of the singer. Not to mention the stunning guitar work spanning every last second of the track. I mean... The opening guitar riff is just epic. The harmonies are spot on, and the melody just seems to chunk together with a subtle yet powerful bass line, wrapped together in one ear-pleasing piece of music. 05. "The Alchemist": Despite the rather odd lyrics, which I have yet to understand, it's a great track. I love the lyric "I am Doctor Dee, and this is my house!" It's so silly sounding (In a good way!), but whatever the lyrics lack in depth, the guitar and and drums compensate. Great drum fills, overall a very melodic and memorable tune. Something you can hum to yourself, you know? 06. "Isle Of Avalon": The song starts with a faint sound of wind blowing, for sure nodding to the final song on this album. Then the bass punches you in the face, and the drums are there to cheer it on. The guitar is almost at the back of the track, but nonetheless important. Bruce comes in with his typical opening style; quiet, restrained... A time bomb waiting to erupt! He teases you with a little of that voice we all love, notably chanting one or two words right before exploding in the operatic tenor he's known for. I mean - the man's in his 50's and he still sings like this. One of a kind, if you ask me. The solo seems to almost refrain the typical Iron Maiden style. It's interesting actually, although I'm not entirely sure how to explain it. The solos go on for a minute or two, before the song returns to a calm narration of lyrics. In the background you can hear some more wind blowing just before the lyrics. The guitar riff near the end of the song is very melodic, sort of returning to the previous track, "Coming Home". 07. "Starblind": I believe this is the first time Bruce mentions anything about his/the world ending. Again, the intro is very mellow, and suddenly Dave comes in with a roaring guitar riff. Bruce's voice is wild during the verses. In fact, the whole song is sort of wild. The drums during the chorus are spread out and slow, emphasizing the back-beat of the song, while in contrast the guitars are insane between Bruce's vocal phrases. Nicko always knows just what Iron Maiden songs need as far as percussion. You could almost compare him to Ringo Starr, who, despite being constantly criticized, really plays the song as opposed to playing the drums. The one thing in common is they both know how the drums should go, instead of belting out fast fills every three seconds. About 3/4's into the song, there's some very interesting guitar work, including a nice little melody mixed into the background of the all the tracks. 08. "The Talisman": This piece is my second favorite in the entire album, only being beaten by the final track. The acoustic intro is just what the album needed. The last time I remember such a beautiful acoustic piece in Iron Maiden was at the end of "The Prophecy" in "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son". Now the lyrics tell a story of someone maybe evacuating from an apocalyptic scenario? It's a very beautiful song as far as tone and melody goes. I love the chorus. It's the cherry that tops of this song. The lyrics about the sea are so vivid. Anytime I hear the song, I'm just rushed to this scene of waves splashing upon a frigate, dark clouds rolling over the skies, thunder booming, and rain pouring over the wooden deck. It's really incredible what Harris' songwriting can do to the rest of the bands' music. The guitar harmonies in the chorus almost mimic Bruce's singing. Truly one of Iron Maiden's best songs. I mean of all time. 09. "The Man Who Would Be King": A relatively calm intro, with a pleasant guitar opening. In the background the orchestral arrangements are very well placed. The bass plays along with the guitar in a nice arpeggiated sound. Here comes the guitars, once again, a nice, memorable harmony. It leads into the main verse. Now there's something so persuading about this melody Bruce sings... Reminding you of the days of "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son". In fact, the whole song is very reminiscent of that album. The solo is among the best in the album. It's just all out power. Wow, now, the outro of this song is absolutely breath-taking. The guitar traces Bruce's voice perfectly in a totally new melody. It could be a whole other song, honestly. 10. "When The Wild Wind Blows": Wow... I could say the world of this song. It is no doubt one of the best songs Iron Maiden has ever written. Comparable to "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", or the "Phantom Of The Opera". The melody of the song is just awe-inspiring. The first time I heard it I was just memorized. The lyrics are also among the best Steve has ever written. Props to him, listening to the lyrics (especially the opening verses) it just gives me goosebumps. Then, from nowhere... BOOM! The whole band just erupts in a literally epic... Well EVERYTHING. The rhythm is spot on for the song, the guitar continues to lay down the melody for Bruce to follow. Then another "BAM!" the verses are followed by an amazing series of solos and bridges. This is without a second thought, the best song on the album. Clocking at 11:01, it's worth every second to listen to. The chills this song gives you are incredible. You just hear this perfect, well-crafted song, topped by Iron Maiden's always amazing performance. You know what, if this were Iron Maiden's last album, I would be beyond alright with this being there last song. It's so memorable... From hearing "Prowler" from 1980 for the first time, to this. I can't believe how much Maiden has changed. The album ends in a gust of wind. Interpret how you like, but when I'm 60 years old, I'll hear a gust of wind, and remember the chilling band known as Iron Maiden. They have, and I hope they will continue to deliver from epics, to adrenaline pumped songs, from emotional masterpieces, to spine-tingling instrumentals. Up the Irons now, and forever!
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics vary from "The Alchemist", with very odd, specific lyrics, to "When The Wild Wind Blows", with emotional, nearly saddening penmanship. Then of course you have "The Talisman", reminding me of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" in the way Bruce narrates to the audience. As I mentioned, the ecstatic lyrics featured in "Coming Home", to very descriptive lyrics such as from "The Man Who Would Be King".
Overall Impression — 10
Honestly, in my personal opinion, I've not heard a single metal band I would rather listen to than Iron Maiden. They've always had a vibe to them that's just... indescribable. I feel lucky to be able to live during their times of prosperity. As I doubt I've failed to mention, the most impressive song was "When The Wild Wind Blows". Others include "The Talisman", "Coming Home", "Isle Of Avalon", and "The Man Who Would Be King". I love nearly everything about this album. It beats "Brave New World" by a hair. (Not an easy call.) There's really nothing I hate about it. If you have any free time - nay, just make time to listen to this masterpiece. Go to the store and buy it, buy the LP version, just find the album somewhere and listen to it! If you have already... Do it again! I would buy it again, in a heartbeat.