IRON MAIDEN – THE BOOK OF SOULS
Release Date: 4th September 2015
℗ 2016 Iron Maiden LLP
- If Eternity Should Fail
- Speed of Light
- The Great Unknown
- The Red and the Black
- When the River Runs Deep
- The Book of Souls
- Death or Glory
- Shadows of the Valley
- Tears of a Clown
- The Man of Sorrows
- Empire of the Clouds
If one was pressed to describe Iron Maidens keenly anticipated The Book Of Souls, then my choice would be epic. Simply epic.
In a world of sensational metal bands and the plethora of thrilling releases throughout 2015, it seems genuinely futile to draw any comparisons between this album and any other, for this is Iron Maiden. Enthralling, unrelenting and unsurpassed, in an undeniable league all their own. It is an unquestionable truth that the release of metal monarchy’s ultimate kings album is exciting, yet that seems an understatement. The reasons for the excitement and celebration are many, but not least of which is that after an astonishing career exceeding four decades, this is the first double album release from Iron Maiden. The very concept that Iron Maiden has so much magnificent material that they are releasing bigger and better in the contemporary world of metal y, is in itself nothing short of astounding.
The opener in Eternity Should Fail seems ostensibly fitting in its majestic delivery and builds the sensation of excited anticipation brilliantly before we launch into the sensational lyrical delivery from Bruce Dickinson. We were worried. We were concerned. Bruce was ill in, potentially the worst was from a fan perspective short of the ultimate demise. His upper respiratory system riddled with career halting disease, yet besides our concerns for his health and his sound, the very first note from his superlative puts our worries away. A sigh of relief both for lyrical delivery, and the news that he has a clean bill of health and has made full recovery. Yes, this was all recorded with a massive tumour at the back of his tongue, and yet Bruce delivers as majestically as ever before. Astonishing in itself because his unique voice is so powerful and unrestrained by the achievable vocal range of us mere mortals that it beggars belief that his was, in fact gravely ill.
The Speed of Light launches forth and a eerie sensation envelopes the Iron Maiden fan prompting reference to the track timing. With the brilliantly catchy guitar groove reverberating through ones aural canals, the realisation hits that there are no ‘The Ides Of March’ or ‘Number Of The Beast’ tracks on this august recording. This album strives neither for short punchy tracks or powerfully profound album highs. This album is a monumental journey through comparatively long tracks celebrating both the vocal and instrumental splendour that is the modern Maiden. The more you listen to the entire recording, the more it appears a cohesive and yet diverse celebration of the journey of Iron Maiden thus far, through its various manifestations. I believe the album cover is a brilliant representation of the time weathered and tribal Eddie representative of the Iron Maiden rank and file faithful. I am convinced that Iron Maiden fans the world over will find this album a tremendous journey of vindication, cementing their faith for time eternal. With the shortest track in Tears Of A Clown running for 4.58, we are provided with in excess of 92 minutes of metal magnificence throughout.
Throughout this album I am reminded constantly of Phantom of the Opera from their 1980 debut. Although vocally different for obvious reasons, I remember being utterly thrilled by the majestic instrumental journey for the full 7.20. This album is an exciting revisitation of the instrumental journey and, in itself, a monumental achievement that really needs to be listen to in two formats. The first is finding the time to listen to the album in totality, providing opportunity for a thorough appreciation for the gargantuan journey. The second, for me at least is to put the album on while attending other duties and let the highlight occur to me over time. I know that I will be provided those highlights for years to come with each causal aural experience providing more and more gems.
This album may be sans short catchy tracks and perhaps many devotees were hoping for a more traditional instalment, but with such a vast chasm of time lapse between The Final Frontier and now, its seems perfection to me to release such a thrilling libretto of metal magnificence. This album contains all the highlights of shorter works such as The Great Unkown with so much more to enjoy, for years to come in tracks like Empire Of The Clouds.
Its seems a little farcical to produce a review of an album that bears so much fruit when the reality is that the initial enjoyment we traditionally have with a shorter albums, is increased exponentially with the sheer volume of work that has gone into this gargantuan accomplishment.
This is one album I knew would be impossible to absorb in only a few spins. I have waited to produce this piece, and listened to the album thoroughly in order to truly appreciate what we have in The Book Of Souls. With every listen I hear more, experience more and my enjoyment of this Maiden magnum opus has grown by the day.
This album will be a point of reference and inspiration for countless ‘metalliers’ for generations to come, picking up musical stimulation, riff referral and aspirations of reaching the vocal capacity of Bruce almighty. The Book Of Souls is the archetypical metal marathon, and it is exciting to know that Iron Maiden have so much material and devotion within the group, to produce such a prodigious work.