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The Final Frontier
Released: 2010, EMI
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com Staff
Good ol' Maiden. Confident and mature and always up for the challenge. As the time between Maiden releases grows these releases are becoming more and more treasured. Despite being announced for an early 2011 release, The Final Frontier sort of came out of nowhere making the 4 year wait since the last one a little more palatable.
Iron Maiden have very little if anything to prove any more; to themselves, to fans, to the industry, they have pretty much done it all. I'm always glad when a band tries to push the envelope, artistically and creatively, when they have no real reason to do so.
Maiden delivers a diverse and dynamic album, different tones and sounds from the unique intro through to the tail-end. We all know Bruce is no longer the 'Air-Riad siren' of old, and we accept that. We understand and appreciate that almost every song starts with Harris noodling around on the bass. We realize that the three guitarists most of the time manage to sound like half a guitar. It's the 'new' Maiden, and it's been this way for over 10 years now. It is the exception, not the rule if a song clocks in at under 8 minutes these days.
The lyrics are spot on, epic tales of epic tales, delivered as only Bruce can. The whole thing hums along at mid-tempo with a gentle urgency, never frantic, never off the rails, just solid British workmanship shining through.
For Maiden in 2010 it's "'eads down, get the job done, no messin' about, deliver the goods, and then it's off to the pub for a pint with the lads". See you in four years.
So out comes the a new Iron Maiden and off I ran to the store on release day to buy it. All this even though I've haven't been really moved by them since their BRAVE NEW WORLD comeback. This is what you do when one of your childhood hero bands release an album. It was with some trepidation that I put the album on. I expected a paint buy numbers dialed in album full of boring clean intros, the E - C - G simple chord progressions, and overdone vocal melodies. However, things are looking up and the song-writing has taken a turn for the more progressive. The riffs are not quite so predictable, the songs are overall long and go so many places that this is clearly a meaty album that will be in the player for months. It is not a POWESLAVE or PIECE OF MIND, but it helps me to further forget about the last few forgettable albums. Their best album in 10 years!
THE FINAL FRONTIER is the highly anticipated new studio album from Metal’s favorite band. With expectations high the real question is: Does it deliver? The answer is Yes, but not in a classic sense. While THE FINAL FRONTIER is more enjoyable than the previous couple of albums and way better than anything they did with Blaze on vocals, it still does not compare to the 80’s classics such as POWERSLAVE. It is a good solid release that grows on you the more you listen to it and it does have that signature Maiden sound to it that we all know and love. Bruce still has the voice and sounds amazing after all these years. Well worth owning.
Whether you’re a fan of the band or not, the release of a new Iron Maiden album is a must-hear event for all fans of heavy metal. Since their reunion with Bruce and Adrian ten years ago, each album released by the band has undergone an incredible amount of scrutiny as fans hopefully await a return to the glory days of PIECE OF MIND or POWERSLAVE. Let’s face it – that ain’t gonna happen. But, naysayers aside, Maiden’s output since 2000 has all been worthwhile, and THE FINAL FRONTIER is no different!
Indeed, after many listens, it’s clear that this album is a culmination of all of the epic tendencies (and repetitiveness!) that the band has been going for since Bruce left in 1993. The only difference is that the repetitiveness that plagued the last few albums has been minimized and the band has written true epics this time. Strangely, the album is back-loaded, as “Isle of Avalon”, “Starblind”, and “The Talisman” are easily the highlights of the album. As expected, the band fires on all cylinders, and Dickinson gives yet another stellar, thespian performance. There are some dragging, re-hashed moments on the album (“The Alchemist” is guilty of this, both musically and lyrically), but for a band this long in the tooth, this is a shockingly energetic and vital showing.
Lord of The Wasteland’s score: 4/5
After lapsing into something of an apathetic fan over the last studio records, THE FINAL FRONTIER has renewed my interest in Iron Maiden. BRAVE NEW WORLD was an exciting chapter in the re-formed, Bruce Dickinson-fronted millennial Maiden but DANCE OF DEATH and A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH were dark, brooding records that failed to grab this listener and have sat idly, gathering dust, for years.
Enter THE FINAL FRONTIER. While not exactly a return to classic Maiden, this new record is something of a mix between the riff-laden, melodic tracks that first captured this young metalheads’ ear 27 years ago and the long epics that have become a greater focus of the band’s later catalogue. While possibly sequenced on purpose, the first half of the album is more accessible with the hook-filled title-track grabbing the listener immediately. “Mother of Mercy” and “Coming Home” really stand out as potential classics, as well. As we head into the homestretch, though, the songs become darker, longer and require a few spins to really sink in. “Isle of Avalon” and “The Talisman” have potential to be fan favorites but the band lapses back into the forgettable epic mode that plagued A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH on “Starblind” and “The Man Who Would Be King.” The songs aren’t bad by any means, but they certainly won’t have listeners going back to them again and again, either. It should be noted that Dave Murray and Adrian Smith really shine on this record (*NOTE: Omitting Jannick Gers is intentional, as this writer maintains his stance that Gers is now into his twentieth year of riding the coattails of Messers. Murray and Smith), delivering some stunning solos and tasty riffs. Also, Bruce Dickinson sounds as if he has finally come to terms with the fact that, while still an impressive vocalist, he cannot hit the notes he once did. Dickinson’s singing out of range was a problem that really stood out on the last two records (I’m looking at you “Montsegur” and “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns”) but whether he appealed to ol’ ‘Arry’s good nature this time around or not, the songs benefit as a result.
While not exactly breaking new ground, THE FINAL FRONTIER sees the welcome return of some elements that first made Iron Maiden one of the biggest bands in heavy metal. The last two records seemed to divide Maiden’s fanbase and were even seen as a misstep by many, so perhaps the band took that into consideration when putting pen to paper and hand to plectrum. The lengthy epics remain, but this time the songs are memorable and actually beg for repeated listens, something that dusty copy of A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH at the back of your CD shelf wishes it could do.
Iron Maiden is showing the whole metal community that they definitely still are a guarantee for some proper horns! A combination of good-sounding instruments, a pleasant vocal performance and exciting but straightforward, and sometimes a bit too predictable, compositions make for an enjoyable overall experience. Unfortunately the album suffers from a few tracks in the 2nd half which are partly characterless. Generally some songs should be a bit shorter in length which would make for a more coherent experience on “The Final Frontier”.
THE FINAL FRONTIER is Iron Maiden’s most experimental album, as the band continues their transition towards even greater progressive tendencies. This is a complex album that will likely require several listens to fully absorb all the nuances and melodies. Clocking in at 76 minutes, this is Maiden’s longest studio recording. The tedious intros and outros are again present and continue to plague and bloat Maiden’s millennial albums, where much should have been cut. Almost all complaints are redeemed by Adrian Smith, who has put his stamp on this record with writing credits on 6 songs. However, it is Smith’s inspiring solo work that stands out, as this album boasts the best work of Smith’s tenure with Maiden and the most fiery solos on a Maiden album in a very long time. Easily the best album Maiden has put out since BRAVE NEW WORLD, its legacy will grow with time and will almost surely be remembered as Adrian’s album. "
Every new Iron Maiden album is a long-awaited event in the worldwide metal community due to the fact Maiden does not release a new album every year – plus probably most importantly - hands down, Maiden is the greatest metal band of all time on the face of the Earth (now preparing to get indifferent comments about this, so let them freely flow in, ha!).
THE FINAL FRONTIER, a megalomaniac lengthy (clocking in at almost 77-minute mark), Maiden´s 15th studio album, caused some mixed feelings in me at first. The first song out of Maiden´s new record that was heavily getting some rotation in some metal friendly radio channels in Finland, was “El Dorado”, which only managed to give me some 'meh!' feelings at best. I was thinking “they´d better convince me with the rest of the stuff on their new album…” Well, gladly they eventually did so with some of the other songs and not so much by some songs on it.
First off, what have they been thinking when kicking off the album by such a terrible sounding intro, added with the title track of the album (“The Satellite 15… The Final Frontier” that is). The title track, “The Final Frontier”, really didn't raise my hopes any higher regarding this aforementioned fact that my introduction to this album happened through “El Dorado.”. Maybe it´s a bit harsh to say, but the title track just drags too much – without providing any sort of ´larger-than-life´ experiences to the Maiden fans while “El Dorado” is simply just ´ok-ish´.
After the first 2 average/not-so-good Maiden cuts, the album starts to reveal its true claws - what it´s supposed to sound like. The Maiden´s signature sound starts crawling out from every corner – with all those epic songs and strong melodies, Bruce´s dazzling vocal delivery, etc. – making obviously the world of metal to look happier and more hopeful again. That´s because of the songs like “Coming Home”, “The Alchemist”, ”Isle of Avalon”, “Starblind” and “The Talisman” – well, in fact because the rest of the stuff on this new Maiden opus, only the 1st two songs excluded.
By the standard of all metal albums that have so far crawled to the metal loving community this year, in the name of all honesty THE FINAL FRONTIER is a somewhat awesome album (maybe not winning the “Best Metal Album of 2010” category in my personal records though), but being measured by the standard of all previous Maiden albums, I probably expected just a bit better - and somehow more breathtaking album from them than what I eventually got blessed with. Wonder why? Simple: because Iron Maiden is destined to be the best metal band of all time in this universe – that´s why!
1. Satellite 15....The Final Frontier 8:40
2. El Dorado 6:49
3. Mother Of Mercy 5:20
4. Coming Home 5:52
5. The Alchemist 4:29
6. Isle Of Avalon 9:06
7. Starblind 7:48
8. The Talisman 9:03
9. The Man Who Would Be King 8:28
10. When The Wild Wind Blows 10:59
Bruce Dickinson - vocals
Dave Murray - lead & rhythm guitars
Adrian Smith - lead & rhythm guitars
Steve Harris - bass, keyboards
Nicko McBrain - drums, percussion
Janick Gers - lead & rhythm guitars
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