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The Final Frontier
Iron Maiden
The Final Frontier
Universal Music
Heavy Metal
Mark Balogh
3.5 stars

The new IRON MAIDEN album entitled “The Final Frontier” is upon us. Let’s face it MAIDEN is one of the kings of classic metal along with the likes of PRIEST and SABBATH; no introduction is necessary and when one of the legends puts out an album of new material it’s a welcome thing.

The album opens with “Satellite 15… The Final Frontier” and the only way I can describe the song is eclectic. It sounds more like a conglomeration of a movie soundtrack, with its long instrumental intro replaced with some “trance-like” vocals by Bruce Dickinson, before finally kicking in with an actual song structure. Like I said, it’s a bit all over the map but the song itself is decent if not somewhat simplistic; not one of the strongest I’ve heard from the band but decent at best.

The song that the band has been playing live on their US summer tour is up next with “El Dorado”. Again, it’s another decent tune but not on the stronger side of what I have heard from the band. It’s a step above the opening track with its “galloping” guitar riffs but in the end it comes off as just decent again. The playing and execution are there but it comes off as sounding a bit lackluster to me in the end.

Things start to look up with “Mother Of Mercy” as the album starts to hit a stride. Dickinson seems to turn it up a notch vocally with his always impressive delivery. The song exhibits a bit more of a truer MAIDEN vibe than the first two tracks did. The following track “Coming Home” sees to have something of a Dickinson solo sound creeping in akin to a song like “Tears Of The Dragon” without being quite as lofty as that killer track.

“The Alchemist” kicks it back up a notch with the classic MAIDEN approach. It may not go down as one of the more memorable of the MAIDEN catalog but it’s not for lack of execution but more for the band trying too hard to sound like themselves. The song ultimately plays out without the presence of that one truly memorable element that would make it an IRON MAIDEN classic.

At over nine minutes, the progressive “Isle Of Avalon” does a good job of trying to bring back some originality to the album but I’m not so sure I was ever on board with the modern day progressiveness the band went for on recent albums like “A Matter Of Life And Death”, and with such excess in some of their songs I find myself losing interest. Gone it seems are the days of the four-minute tunes where the band made its point and kicked ass doing it in a manner that few others could even come close to.

Having said all that, “Starblind” is a tune I really enjoyed at it seems to wrap several classy elements into one song (even though it’s almost eight minutes in length). The hooks and guitar passages seem more urgent than at any point in the album so far and I like it!

“The Talisman” starts with a soft vocal from Dickinson before kicking into the more familiar howl we all know and love from him. The song is another nine-minute plus affair. The lyrics tell a cool story as most do that the band pen. Even at its length, the song flows along nicely and features some interesting guitar work from the trio of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers.

“The Man Who Would Be King” sounds a bit uninspired in its process. Another song that is close to nine minutes (in fact the last three songs of the album total close to a half hour), but unlike the previous song it never seems to get going or flow that well for me.

Closing “The Final Frontier” out is the eleven-minute epic “When The Wild Wind Blows”. Even though it is the longest track by far on the record this one works a little better due to its structure. It’s a bit progressive in sound but flows nicely.

Despite the fact that I felt some songs didn’t quite match up to the quality I’ve come to expect the band I feel the album is executed well and the musicianship is top-notch. That much you know you will get from a band like MAIDEN. I did speak with a friend who is a big fan of the band and asked his opinion and he said the thing with IRON MAIDEN is you may not get “it” the first time or the 25th time or even the 50th time you listen to one of their albums but when it finally hits home you will appreciate what they’ve done on a record. He said he still finds new things on the classic “Powerslave” after all these years so maybe I will keep revisiting “The Final Frontier” and see what happens but for now I can only go with my initial feelings.

Band Lineup:
  • Bruce Dickinson – Lead vocals
  • Steve Harris – Bass, keyboards
  • Dave Murray – Guitars
  • Nicko McBrain – Drums
  • Adrian Smith – Guitars
  • Janick Gers - Guitars


Track Listing:
  1. Satellite 15… The Final Frontier
  2. El Dorado
  3. Mother Of Mercy
  4. Coming Home
  5. The Alchemist
  6. Ise Of Avalon
  7. Starblind
  8. The Talisman
  9. The Man Who Would Be King
  10. When The Wild Wind Blows


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