Motörhead has been making the same album since, who know how long. So honestly you really can't find.... there isn't really any point to argue. They do still play well, it's just not enough variety. This is the sixteenth studio album by NWOBHM legends Iron Maiden. This is a band I loved, the not so much loved as much as certain album's by them I love. For this album I was looking forward to it. I wasn't impressed as I wanted to be by Bad Magic and Beauty Beyond the Madness was good enough. So I was kinda hoping this would be interesting, which it is... kinda. I mean this band, even if the song is bland, almost always has great topics. Topics I couldn't ever imagine me writing a decent, let alone epic, song around. Something that should be noted is this is the longest record by the group, at 92 minutes, and it's also a double album. And this also contains the two of the longest songs by the group. Though they have been putting out more progressive structured songs. Or rather longer albums in general. Another thing I like is that this has some pretty cool song titles. Not the coolest, but that first and last track sure paint a picture in your head. But anyway, I might do reviews eventually for The Night Creeper (I plan on it), Repentless, Lost Themes, Chasing Shadows, A Raw Youth, I Worship Chaos, Sour Soul, The Magic Whip, among others.
- If Eternity Should Fall: For such a bad ass title, this track doesn't live up to it. With a title like this this should be the epic journey The Red and The Black wishes it could be. It should be in line with such tracks as The Odyssey, Paradise by The Dashboard Lights, The Foreigner Suite, Larks' Tongue in Aspic Part I, LA Woman and so on. Listen to this, and hear me out. I have a much better idea for a song that could be an epic. One could be a song about heaven literally falling, or figuratively and it fall to sin. It could be a metaphor or allegory for the way man is becoming less Godly. Another could be the fall of a relationship, on that you thought would last though eternity. Another could be the end of the world, and you standing witness to the end of everything you knew and loved. There is endless number of Epic topics for a title like this, and they did nothing of the sort. Fuck I might write one of those. the best part is anyone of the above topics are totally song topics they'd cover.
- Speed of Light: For a second track this leads to a whole lot of nothing. Seriously there isn't a single second of anything here you can't hear elsewhere. Not that this is bad, its just... Nothing special. This sounds like a Guns N Roses song. That intro is a spitting image of Nighttrain or I wanna say Double Jive Talk or Perfect Crime. The music is very similar during instrumental sections to that band.
- The Great Unknown: While better than the previous track, tell me this doesn't scream Number of The Beast in the intro. I can't quite pin a specific song for the riff section, but that's because I need to revisit my Maiden. As I sat here, I though nice solo. I also thought, wow... .I don't know if I'm ever gonna review a new album by an old artist again. Unless it's Zappa of course ;)
- The Red and The Black: This track sits just 12 seconds short of being the second longest track ever released by the group. Now will this hold up to it's epic 10+ minute brotheren. No, but let me explain. That riff is solid, it has power. But it has the same problem Music From Another Dimension has. There is no real punch. The guitar is mixed to low and it's played with force. Bruce also isn't singing with as much conviction as I want. This did cheer me up when the riff started reminding me of Rime (this is kinda of a reworked, less interesting version of the track). That vocal chant reminds me also , a little, of Rime. I guess I like the synths and keys, because they are evoking Symphony X a little, but Underworld is a far more interesting progressive metal, or rather metal with progressive song structures, than this. I can assure you I'll never return to this or any track on this album again. (unless it's bolded). The ending picks up, but not enough. This doesn't have any business being this long. If you want to hear something that's got a real punch and's 19 minutes long, listen to Peter Brötzmann Trio's 1967 classic For Adolphe Sax, the title track specifically has a bad ass punch. Also that ending riff reminds me too much Róisín Dubh to forgive. :(
- When The River Runs Deep: What can I say that I haven't said earlier. Well I guess I can say this song doesn't click. It kinda sounds like a cluster fuck. There are so many different elements here, and they just don't really compliment themselves. It's almost like a young punk band wanted to play and they add a melodic hook, and shift tempos and stuff as often as they want. There are some songs that reminds me of this one but it'll take to long to remember. If I figure it out I'll post it up after this goes up.
- The Book of Souls: I really don't want to listen to this anymore at this point. But upon listening to it on it's own, I have to say I do have stuff to say. Listening to it on it's own helped me understand the song better. I read somewhere they took the tracks and kinda wrote them, rehearsed and recorded them at the same time. This is too, this proves (as with the other tracks) they can't hold a song this long (are any length) with it being well rehearsed. When I listen to this all I hear is re-arrangments that need to be done. This isn't that bad of a song, it's just not hammered out enough. Maybe a counter guitar lead over the riff. Make the bass more booming. Make me feel it in my gut. The thing is the reminds me a shit ton of Brave New World, at parts. I am kinda waiting in the pre-chorus sounding lines for him to say that. I actually like the synths in this track. They remind me of the little hidden synths in another album I was listening to earlier this year. I can't quite remember, but when I do I'll add it in. I feel like this song would be better if this band maybe listened to V: The New Mythology Suite. This could use more Egyptian/ancient/eastern scales. They could be using them, but I can't really pick up on them. But also I shot my ears (the pitches) out before listening so it's hard to hear the fine details. Even thought I've heard the intro to this song tons of times, even in non metal songs like Roundabout, I'll cut them some slack.
Now on to disc 2, and based on Disc 1 ............... :(. The biggest disappointment I'll come out and say right now is the fact that this album isn't epic. I know voices change over time, but this is a double album and should be so fucking epic you cum in your pants when your hear it's name mentioned. And yet I get flaccid when I think of this. Does that make any sense? And the fact it could have been (and still could be) Bruce's last record, only makes it worse. And honestly, after reading what was said about the album before it was released, and what should have happened, it doesn't even come close. There isn't anything here at all you can't easily find on another album by the band, minus an 18 minute long track. I kinda wish this was made in 1988.
- Death or Glory: Again, nothing. On every album there's always a song that is really nothing. Like it doesn't equal to anything. This is very much a clone of those songs. Thought most of the songs here are pretty much clones of each other. Not much variation. But I will say this, this is the closest to excitement on the album I've heard. Excitement in the vein of Flash of the Blade (though over time I've grown sick of that cut), Number of the Beast, Wrathchild, Wasted Years, The Trooper even Transylvania (by far my favorite track by the group). So that's a positive.
- Shadows of the Valley: "As I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there's none left. 'Cause I've been brassing and laughing so long that Even my mamma thinks that my mind is gone But I ain't never crossed a man that didn't deserve it Me be treated like a punk, you know that's unheard of You better watch how you talking, and where you walking Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk I really hate to trip but I gotta lope As they croak I see myself in the pistol smoke fool I'm the kinda G that little homies want to be like On my knees in the night, saying prayers in the street light". Name this Tune. If you can I'll let you read what I have to say about this track. It opens very similar to what 1986 track. And it continues with a very similar feeling to that track. I guess it's a solid track, but really how solid is it. It's so.... I don't know.
- Tears of a Clown: Being inspired to write the song about Robin Williams' suicide, Bruce has noted this is his favorite track. And honestly, this goes beyond the fact I don't like Williams, this song is not that good. I'll stick with Smokey Robinson's version.
- The Man of Sorrows: More like Man of U.N.C.L.E. hahahaha that movies just came out, and I know about the show way before the movie was even announced. :) But this isn't half bad. It reminds me a little bit of Avenged Sevenfold, it also reminds me of Wasted Years. The song I'm thinking of specifically is one like a Crimson Day. Thought the solo in the beginning reminds me of Dear God, if I'm remembering correctly. Or maybe a song off City of Evil or Hail to The King. But it also reminds me of Symphony X a little. You know if I liked this album more, or way more interested I'd care to think harder but no. Then the song goes into a more "synyster" territory. Not awesome solo are awesome writing wise, just it gets darker but fucking looses it's evil grips and goes to just okay after about 5 seconds. What happened to these guys. The solo is also one of the most boring solos I've ever heard in my life. The pre-solo, not the fills, the pre-solo. It's so fucking un-energetic, it's no. And then the real solo, just barley gets to say it's anymore exciting. Even if they were going for a more subdued solo or a more emotional ballad solo, fucking listen to a Scorps record or something COME ON! and then another fucking solo. This album has so so so much you can just take out of it. If the healthy weight (for the analogy basically no filler) of this album is 150 pounds, this albums 600. And worst of all this tainted the only song I actually gave a shit about....................... (>XO)
- Empire of the Clouds: This is the closer to the album, and is the longest track ever released by the band. Written by Dickenson, who also plays piano on the track, this sits at 18:01. The song that is behind this sits at 13:45 and was Rime the Ancient Mariner from 1984's Powerslave. That song was well worth the 13 minute length, now the problem here is, is the worth the 18 minutes. Another 18 minute track that is justified in it's length is Foreigner Suite. That song is amazing and works perfect. This song, while it isn't of the ranks of the aforementioned tracks, this is solid. I mean This is honestly the first track I heard from this album, I heard them out of order and listened to the long tracks and the single first, that I want to revisit. Not to better understand, but because I want to. Is it perfect, now, but it's a nice change. I mean even Seventh Son is kinda long, at 9 minutes, but the whole breakdown the build up is cool enough to let it go.
Overall I have to give this a 4/10. If you want to hear what this should sound like listen to Paradise Lost by Symphony X. Every track is different and each has a kick. Now back to the thingy, there are moments here that are the softest moments I've heard by the band. While I appreciate it, some softer moments don't live up to what they should. The closer on the last album was a soft ballad but that had some grit to it. These ballads go straight out ballad, but not as exciting. I've also heard more moving strung sections on a number of songs by other artists. As it stands though, with Bruce's illness in mind, this is a great last album. It's not hateful, nor is it angry, its kinda like they're looking back but fondly instead of with rage. In 1998 Brian Carroll released Colma, which was an album that is softer and easier to listen to than his prior work. It was made for his mother who was recovering from cancer treatments (if I am remembering correctly). This album reminded me of that album. Maybe not sound or style wise, but energy and loudness wise. I kinda feel like, unless this is a last hurrah there is no reason for this album to exist. That's kind of a dick thing to say, but seriously. And lastly, double albums need to be ambitious. I'm not talking about albums that are like Directions or Circle the Rounds or an archival concert album that happens to be a double albums worth. I'm talking albums recorded that are a double albums worth of new material. The Wall, Tommy, Bitches Brew, The White Album, Use Your Illusion, I can go on and on. Fuck Load & Reload are more ambitious than this album. If you want my suggestion on what to listen to by the group anything from The Soundhouse Tapes to Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (I will admit I've yet to hear either Real Live One or Real Dead One as of yet). Well on to Paper Gods and then Underworld. Or vice versa.