Take 2 of 4: Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier (EMI)

Since their dawn in the early of 1980s Iron Maiden have been detached from their countrymen of NWOBHM by doing an epic, complex metal music. Their new album is a proof of this victorious legacy for the history of Heavy Metal.

Finally, the long awaited The Final Frontier is out. Once again, questions were raised after a string of up-and-down albums/songs since the coming back of the greatest frontman of all times, Bruce Dickinson (I bet you didn’t know his name, duh). Actually,The Final Frontier is the 4th studio album with Dickinson in a row. What to wait after the arguably fiasco of A Matter of Life and Death?

First of all, Iron Maiden fans have to put in mind that after all these years of the most stellar carrier in heavy metal music, the band WON’T return with a new Powerslave or The Number of The Beast. Just like Judas Priest won’t record another Painkiller or British Steel and Metallica won’t deliver another Kill ‘em All or Master of Puppets. This is essential to understand the atmosphere behind The Final Frontier.

If you didn’t notice yet, (and I bet you noticed it) Iron Maiden have been gradually transforming their sound since the days of Blaze Bayley, experiencing new nuances of their base sound, album after album. Repeating myself, the nadir of these experiences resulted in the [album] A Matter of Life and Death, in my opinion one of the greatest delusions for a Iron Maiden fan. (This album has its defenders tho).

And the zenith of the ‘experimental phase’ is The Final Frontier, by far the most progressive album of all Maiden’s discography.

Satellite 15... The Final Frontier, gives the first impression. Along with a four-minute trippy intro, clearly intended to leave the most orthodox Iron Maiden fan totally bewildered, this 8-minute track is completely unusual, weird and.. MARVELLOUS.

Even the track El Dorado, previously released as a freebie in mp3, makes sense in this ambience of spacial mid-paced tempos of the album. The song with its leading bass is where the Steve Harris’ trademark transforms all of us ‘air’ bass players during its execution, with a foot in the monitor, of course.

The next songs, Mother of Mercy and Coming Home, show the versatility of Dickinson, presenting newest interpretations, different of all he has done so far (including his solo carrier). Actually in this CD he sings with gusto, not at gun point as he did in the previous Maiden album.

The Alchemist is the fastest (and the shortest) song of the album. Just imagine the most agitated moments of albums Brave New World and Dance of Death and you’ll get the picture.

The first hightlight moment answers by the name of Island of Avalon. What a excellent tune. It summarizes the progressive idea of the album in one song. Variation of vocals, intrincated guitars, really beautiful melody. In my humble opinion this song alone is one  of the best metal moments of 2010.

Starblind is the lowest moment of the album tho. Not a bad song, just unnecessary, and it could be saved for a B-Side single.

Now the grand finale: in the beginning of this review I said that Iron Maiden are known for the epic nature of their tunes. This time, they trigger three epic moments in a row, in the vein of Rime of Ancient Mariner, Alexander the Great, and so on, for the first time in their career. The three tracks have the same features, lengthy songs and lyrical grandiosity and they are: The Talisman, The Man Who Would Be King and the marvellous When the Wild Wind Blows with its 11 minutes and lyrics that remember me of the movie The day After (if you’re old enough to remember this hehe).

Maybe you think this album is being bland. The reason is that Iron Maiden dared to make a CD with 76 minutes in an age when one doesn’t have time to appreciate one single song. This album takes time to be digested. But once you have made it, it becomes better and better.

The other explanation is that the members of the band were raised in a scenario when the predominant  music was progressive rock. They are showing their true influences here. So take your time and rejoice, because this is a dignified release of the greatest band of history of Heavy Metal.

The Final Frontier is out now on EMI.