roblo97 wrote:Happy new Iron Maiden album day! I’m listening to it on a well-known streaming platform at the moment but rest assured, I shall be venturing into Bristol to buy a copy of Senjutsu later today!
I've had Iron Maiden's 2000s-era albums on heavy rotation these last few months in preparation for it. Brave New World
showed that everything was correctly intact and working properly and they no longer had anything to prove to anyone, hence every album from Dance Of Death
onwards they had no need to make - they did so only because they wanted to. But I'm glad they have. I've been very rude about Dance Of Death
in the past, only to have to revise my opinion a few years back when I found that it wasn't quite the mis-step that I'd thought (Age Of Innocence
aside, that's still terrible even if you agree with all the Daily Mail headlines in it), while I can't understand the torrents of abuse hurled at The Final Frontier
, beyond the fact that it's not an album that could ever have been made in the 1980s (for instance, The Talisman
would have been cut to half its length in the LP era, but it'd have been compromised in the process, so I know what I'd rather have at this stage). I say to those who consider themselves fans, write these albums off at your peril!
While I'm here, I may as well add my official Angry Metal Guy style ranking of all the albums, which can be divided into three distinct phases. Check back later to see where Senjutsu
slots into the Second Division.FIRST DIVISION: THE GLORY DAYS
1. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
- Not a single weak moment to be found anywhere on it, and boosted by being the album that first alerted me to the existence of Iron Maiden when I'd barely turned nine (you can thank the presence of Can I Play With Madness
on Now! That's What I Call Music 12
2. The Number Of The Beast
- Damn near perfect though not quite, and even substituting Gangland
for Total Eclipse
as so many people want to do doesn't quite get it to the top.
3. Somewhere In Time
- A far better album than it's usually given credit for, and it gets better with age; the best artwork of them all, contains two of my all-time favourites, and none the worse for all the synthesisers and Bruce stepping back from the writing process.
4. Piece Of Mind
- Comes top of many lists, and only down this low as it's hamstrung by Quest For Fire
that was the only track of the Glory Days to make it into my Bottom Ten, so I couldn't justify putting it higher.
- Not as consistent as its two predecessors (relatively speaking, there's a big hole in the middle) but showed they could write an enormous epic, have it approved by a conservative record company, and they even played it live.SECOND DIVISION: THE DI'ANNO AND SIX-PIECE ERAS
6. A Matter Of Life And Death
- This is what happens when a band that's been in existence for 30 years and has nothing left to prove is completely let off the leash, and gets it right - even if it's a bit maudlin due to its subject matter.
7. Iron Maiden
- On the contrary, this is the culmination of the band's earliest years where they were finding their place; slightly disjointed by Early Instalment Weirdness (e.g. Strange World
). Better production would have helped (such as what Killers
8. The Book Of Souls
- "At this stage we're going to make an album that won't fit on a single CD and who's going to stop us?" There's a couple of tracks I'd have reduced to B-sides to get it down to a single CD but other than that, had it been their last album, it'd have made an excellent epitaph (much like Clockwork Angels
was for Rush).
- 80% from the vaults of the early days and (Wrathchild
aside), likely as not, the second-string tracks that weren't considered for the debut. It shows. At least the production was better.
10. Brave New World
- And all was right with the world once more, at the time. "Neither as good as you'd hoped nor as bad as you'd feared", said a friend of mine at the time, and I'd say he was right. Some of it was apparently written during the Blaze Bayley era...
11. The Final Frontier
- Almost fills a full-length CD, so the main argument against it is that it could do with some editing; however, after repeated listens I can't find anything really wrong
with it, even this far down the ranking, and to do so requires nit-picking.
12. Dance Of Death
- The one album of the six-piece era that has clearly identifiable problems (and both the artwork and the Loudness War production are arguments for another day) even before we get to Age Of Innocence
...THIRD DIVISION: THE WILDERNESS YEARS
13. No Prayer For The Dying
- Proof that Adrian Smith was right; continuing down the path of Seventh Son...
would have been a better idea than trying to make a "raw" album. Boosted because it's the first album I managed to get my hands on, so it was uphill from here.
14. The X Factor
- Yes, we know, Blaze Bayley wasn't the right choice, the argument has been done to death; this album is so gloomy it's actually hard to listen to all the way through. Boosted because this was the first album to be released after I'd become a fan and at the time
the anticipation was worth it.
15. Fear Of The Dark
- Where it's good it's 1980s-level brilliant, where it's bad it's an utter catastrophe; do not be misled by the title track. Contains two of the band's three very worst mistakes amongst its ill-advised experiements, and of all the albums, this is the one that says "play me!" the least.
16. Virtual XI
- I'm not just dunking on Blaze here; trying to make a more 1980s-style album really showed up his vocal limitations; also, two of the band's Bottom Ten lurk within its eight tracks, where Fear Of The Dark
at least spread its errors over 12 tracks.