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Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier: Review

The legendary and ever-popular heavy metal icons Iron Maiden are releasing their newest album on August 16. The album is entitled The Final Frontier, but hopefully will not be theirs. No doubt, the record shows that Iron Maiden is sticking to their new-age style. For most fans, this is rather unwelcoming. But for the open-minded, it can be quite the treat. There will certainly be many of those who dislike what they have done with this release, but I think they have created yet another solid Iron Maiden album.

The Music (rating: B+)

  1. Satellite 15… The Final Frontier
  2. El Dorado
  3. Mother of Mercy
  4. Coming Home
  5. The Alchemist
  6. Isle of Avalon
  7. Starblind
  8. The Talisman
  9. The Man Who Would Be King
  10. When the Wind Blows

In The Final Frontier, the band has shamelessly stuck to their newer style. It shares many similarities with Brave New World, Dance of Death, and A Matter of Life and Death. With their recent albums, they have been incorporating more progressive elements into their music, as well as more instruments (specifically strings). Of course they have always had a progressive edge (“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,” “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” etc.), but they have taken a step further with their newer material; The Final Frontier is no exception. They have retained their heavy metal sound, but their musical approach has undergone grand changes since the return of Dickinson and Smith. For those who dislike these changes, this is not an album for you.

Though I have no stylistic preference between new and old Maiden, this does not compare to their classic albums (Powerslave, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, etc.). This album is probably as good as Dance of Death, which I thought was good but nothing special. It offers more variety than A Matter of Life and Death, which reused rhythms and structures too much for its own good. However, there is not a single song in this album that can live up to Iron Maiden masterpieces. Even in their newer collection, there are such songs as “Brighter than a Thousand Suns,” “Dance of Death,” and “The Wicker Man” to which no song on this album can compare. There are still a handful of great songs on the album, but not one that can match the likes of the aforementioned.

The album introduction, “Satellite 15,” was very interesting and new to the Maiden collection. I thought it was a great piece that moved into a generic boring song, “The Final Frontier”. Having that alongside “El Dorado” was poor arrangement; two big-rock endings together is usually a bad idea. From that point on, it goes along rather smoothly. Some songs are somewhat forgettable, but there are a few excellent tunes such as, “Coming Home,” “Isle of Avalon,” “The Talisman,” “The Man Who Would Be King,” and “When the Wind Blows”. But I’ll say it again: there is not a single song in this album that can live up to Iron Maiden masterpieces.

I think the main issue that comes with the album is that Iron Maiden as been in the scene for so long that there is such a small chance of critical success with their new releases. If it conforms to the old ways, it will most likely be compared to the classics and fall short. On the other hand, there will be too many fans who will oppose a move in the new direction. It’s a lose-lose situation. Also, in The Final Frontier, it feels as though ideas are not as naturally inspired. There are times where the music incorporates elements of progressive to force their new ideas through, and other times where the band uses a gallop or fast-paced riff to solely retain their signature sound. Basically, I think Iron Maiden is in a place where they are not completely sure of what they want to do with their music.

Despite all the negativity I may have displayed, I do think that The Final Frontier is a very good album. Fans who are die-hard for classic Iron Maiden will likely disagree. The band, although not in top-form, is still in healthy shape. There are great songs on the album, but also a few mediocre ones. The main problem is that the band has struggled to make a truly memorable song on this album. None of them feel as naturally inspired as the band’s older material. I am slightly disappointed with the album, but only because I was hoping for a near-perfect release. Still, that hope remains and I would like to see Maiden stick around for a little while longer.

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  1. August 16, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I in part agree with the review, in others couldn’t disagree more.

    When The Wild Wind Blows for me is better than anything on any of the newer albums and beats a lot from their past albums too.

    I’ve said elsewhere that I actually think this album is better than Seventh Son, and I mean it. That said I can’t recall the sort of reviews 7th got, but I suspect they were similar to what Frontier will get. I think musically the new album is way ahead of much of their earlier stuff, it’s more grown up if you like.

    This album does need several play throughs though. And I personally don’t like Satellite 15, for me it’s not an interesting opening, it’s just a time killer til we get to the good stuff.

  2. August 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    good review .. being a fan I could not wait to hear the album .. not too disappointed .. \m/

  3. August 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    The album art looks like a bunch of dead marines who just got zerg rushed

  4. Rod
    August 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Another incredible work of art by the boys. Up the irons!

  5. Rod
    August 25, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Ridiculous review. I love the entire album and cherish the length of it, but the second half is clearly the stronger half, and has MANY moments of brilliance, in vocals, drums, and certainly in guitars
    . This reviewer is a typical main-streamer who wants ‘radio’ music and has no appreciation for the brilliance of Maiden. Believe me, I’m a fan of very old, but other than the fact that the boys are older and slightly more tired (but the healthiest bunch of men in their 50’s that I’ve ever seen), they have clearly improved and refined their sound over the decades, without losing that ‘Maiden’ essence. Two very big thumbs up to Final Frontier!

    • CJ
      August 25, 2010 at 9:38 pm

      Please read the review, not just the grading… I showed no indication of favoring main-stream ‘radio’ music here, and I never have.

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