(Here’s Wil Cifer‘s review of the new Iron Maiden album, which was released three days ago.)
The unholy trinity of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden spawned all metal since their influence trickled down to Metallica, Slayer, Bathory, and pretty much anyone wearing a bullet belt since then. Now with album 17, Iron Maiden comes back stronger than ever after a six-year hiatus from the studio. I assumed The Book of Souls was going to be their last album, and even after hearing the single for “The Writing on the Wall“ I was not expecting a double-album worth of material.
When I press play on any Maiden album since Brave New World my immediate worry is what shape is Bruce‘s voice going to be in? Now that he’s at age 63 this is an even more legitimate concern given the fact that his leather-lunged voice is a defining staple of their sound. This is put to rest after hearing how Bruce belts it out on the title track that opens the album. Given that the producer was Kevin Shirley, who worked with Rush, Dream Theater and Journey, another surprise is how beefy the guitar tone is — though Steve Harris co-produced, so I am sure breathing over his shoulder every step of the way. “Stratego” that follows is even more of an urgent headbanger and has its boot firmly on the monitor.