tue 16/07/2019

CD: Iron Maiden – Book of Souls | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Iron Maiden – Book of Souls

CD: Iron Maiden – Book of Souls

Bruce Dickinson and co. return with an album that punches well above its weight – and mainly to the face

Wow, you look great... have you done something different with your hair?

It’s nearly 40 years since bassist Steve Harris formed Iron Maiden and much has changed since then. Singer Bruce Dickinson has learned to fence, fly and kick cancer in the cock, and the band have continued to release albums – albums which, though rarely hitting the high points of their Eighties heyday, have often been pretty decent and admirably ambitious in scope.

Speaking of ambition, Book of Souls, their latest, is comprised of 11 tracks and clocks in at an impressive 92 minutes. Now that’s a long album, but consider that, within those 11 tracks, there are three that go over 10 minutes and one of those, album closer “Empire of the Clouds”, is almost 20-minutes long. Epic prog metal anyone? Wistful piano and plaintive strings build into a carefully planned crescendo as Bruce Dickinson sings a scene I’m sure I once saw spray-painted onto a massive motorcycle, then BANG! Galloping drums and chugging bass lead us into battle with ferocious power and complete conviction. “You will come with us to the margins of time and fight under a blackened, hopeless sky!" he commands: “Fair enough mate, whatever you say”, you reply, because you’re punch drunk, having been bested by the energy of men who are at least the age of a much older brother.

Of the tunes that have previously battered this listener into willful submission, single “Speed of Light” is something of a comparative curveball: its heads-down rock with a hint of boogie is very welcome, but not representative of the tone throughout, which is unrelentingly dark. “Death or Glory” and “Tears of a Clown” (a song about the much-missed Robin Williams) are studies in sorrow and solemnity and leave me thinking that, if writing songs like this is in any way cathartic, Iron Maiden must be the happiest bunch of Pollyannas on the planet.

Pantomime terror, full-throttle charges, with occasional moments of genuine reflection… this is an album full of power, full of life and full of decent tunes. Not, if I’m being honest, what I was expecting.

If writing songs this dark is in any way cathartic, Iron Maiden must be the happiest bunch of Pollyannas on the planet

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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