After years of divesting myself of the band of heavy metal, I finally conformed and started listening to this monumental band. And
in the spirit of reconnecting with my early 2000s roots, I found myself inexorably drawn to the Reunion
album when human air-raid siren Bruce Dickinson
and proggy-shredmaster Adrian
Smith rejoined the ranks of Iron Maiden
Surprisingly enough, given what would come next, this album seems to be ranked rather low in the estimation of some Maiden-fans. To those of you I extend the following question: are we listening to the same album? Aside from some rather uneven track arrangements - where we go from punchy and fast-paced one minute to ponderously epic the very next - it doesn't even kind of suck. Like with their earlier effort Powerslave
, throw a dart at any number of tracks on the album and you'll land on a killer track.
Are there weak points? Well, to be perfectly fair and objective, they do exist. By the time you've gone through the ten-thousandth chorus refrain of "Out of the Silent Planet
" (hey, Steve Harris has been pulling "when in doubt, repeat chorus" from his bag of musical tricks since 1980
's "Running Free
", so I guess go with what works?) - itself not a bad track - you feel like you've gone on a stellar musical journey and you feel like the album could end here and it would still be 9 tracks of kick-ass...and then the closer track happens. Maybe it's the ponderous plodding pace or the Whitney Houston
vocal line at the end, but this one is just...there. It lacks the punch of the previous track's climax and just meanders on to a rather humdrum ending.
speaking of Whitney Houston
, the only objective issue with this album (seeing that "Thin Line" can be waved off as just different tastes) is how derivative it feels. Whether it's the lead-break from "The Prince" by Diamond Head
in the title track, the aforementioned "Thin Line Between Love and Hate
", borrowing from themselves via the melody of the pre-chorus from "The Evil That Men Do
" reworked for "Out of the Silent Planet
", or even lyrical inspiration from Queensryche's "I Dream
in Infrared" for "Dream
of Mirrors": it feels somewhat too familiar.
But don't mistake these nitpicks for outright dismissal: Brave New World
is an album where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. From the first note of "The Wickerman", which itself began a trend of opening with an uplifting, optimistic song that continued unbroken until 2015's "If Eternity
Should Fail", to the last chorus refrain of "Out of the Silent Planet
", it's packed with kick ass track after kick ass track. Even the "derivative" elements may be welcome to some listeners, along with the return of Bruce: reaffirming the longevity of this band with the "comforting" return of its renowned frontman. As for the strong-suits, there's no limit: not even the sky. From the war-torn jungles of Vietnam, the Arabian desert, the seven seas, and the depths of a tortured mind, to dystopian societies, outer space and even Armageddon
- this album will take the listener on an epic, relentless journey that will have you headbanging or humming along to the ear-worm melodies from the now THREE guitarists. As much as I criticized the lead-break of the title track for being a Diamond Head
knock-off, hearing Dave Murray, Adrian
Smith, and third wheel Janick Gers play it all in unison is worth the theft (don't quote me on that last bit).
Favorite track has to be "Ghost
of the Navigator": a sea-faring epic that, unlike the doomed crew of the "Rhyme
of the Ancient Mariner
", boldly defies the wind and waves in a brave (pun intended) final journey westward that evokes images of the Age of Discovery, when Maiden's home country ruled the oceans. And
like the unsetting empire, Brave New World
stands as a dauntless hallmark of this band's unflagging longevity.
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