Iron Maiden
The Final Frontier


3.5
great

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
August 15th, 2010 | 199 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Maiden will be Maiden...

Iron Maiden have had a highly successful and illustrious career since the early 80’s, and have since become just about the biggest heavy metal band in the world. As the past decade showed, the band, now all in their fifties, took age very well. Not many groups of their veteran status still release records such as Brave New World and A Matter of Life and Death, which proved Iron Maiden’s story was far from over. Ever since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to the fold, the quintet slightly altered its trademark style into a more epic brand of metal, which would produce continually more longer songs as they went on. Now, after four years of waiting, Maiden’s fifteenth effort The Final Frontier has arrived, and it is their longest yet.

Questions have been raised. Do Maiden still have it in them after so many years? Can they still amaze us even now? Are they pushing their career past the expiry date? If it’s up to their loyal fans, Maiden can never disappoint. And if it’s up to the band, they will never disappoint. The Final Frontier, although unsurprising and by the book, is a sincere Maiden record that may leave the more critical of fans longing more just a bit more, but is altogether solid. The fact that you won’t find anything as powerful as The Wicker Man, Paschendale or The Longest Day is partially made up by the equal absence of bad material: most of what appears on here has been done slightly different before by Maiden, but it still works.

The album needs some time to get going, as is shown by the intro to Satellite 15...The Final Frontier. Although the almost mechanical-sounding opening minutes with desperate vocals are certainly not what we normally hear from Maiden, it takes four and a half of them before, finally, a classic Maiden riff kicks in and Dickinson welcomes us with a still highly enjoyable vocal performance that shatters all forms of disappointment he might have awoken with his earlier singing in the track. Whether or not The Final Frontier is truly to become the last Iron Maiden album, the lyrics of the title track have already provided a between-the-lines goodbye that reflects on the great things the group has achieved:

‘For I have lived my life to the full/I have no regrets
But I wish I could talk to my family to tell them/one last goodbye
If I could survive to live one more time/I wouldn’t be changing a thing at all
Do more in my life than some do in ten/I’d go back and do it all over again’


The catchy lead single El Dorado is hardly representative of the rest of the record, and if that is a good or bad thing is up to you. Harris is fond of writing longer songs these days, and The Final Frontier is full of them. There are only three tracks running under 6 minutes, of which the shortest and most up-tempo is The Alchemist. El Dorado itself is actually nearly seven minutes in length, although it certainly doesn’t feel that way. The album could have used more tracks like these two, because what follows are epics and epics only.

Despite the balance being a slightly tilted by this, the five tracks that make up the second half of the record are very much worthwhile. When the Wild Wind Blows, the second longest Maiden track after Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Sign of the Cross, at just over 11 minutes, doesn’t quite live up to the hype it automatically creates, but is nevertheless very good. Starblind, The Talisman, and more so Isle of Avalon and The Man Who Would Be King continually keep things interesting, and are certainly an improvement over some of the slightly boring and long-winded epics found towards the end of A Matter of Life and Death. Iron Maiden are still learning from past flaws, showing that room for improvement certainly isn’t impossible at the length of time they’ve been in the business.

If The Final Frontier proves anything, it is that Iron Maiden’s longevity seems, at least for the moment, limitless. These boys still know how write quality heavy metal: after all, they’ve been doing just that for 35 years now. The riffs sound great, the solos are always worth it, Dickinson still somehow manages to pull this kind of singing off, and also Harris’ signature bass gallops keep their rightful place in the band’s sound. Maiden hasn’t changed, not really, and neither did we expect them to. The Final Frontier will keep their fans happy; not because it’s more of the same, but because it shows effort and sincerity. If it will eventually turn out to be Maiden’s last, it will have been a great one to go out with.

Recommended:

El Dorado
Coming Home
Starblind
When the Wild Wind Blows




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user ratings (1152)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • mike197 (4)
    Hard to listen to in one go, but worth it if you dig in with some truly great tracks....

    necroscope86 (3)
    Overly long and with too much repetition, Maiden prove once again that they know how to ma...

    Starblind (5)
    No surprises here. Iron Maiden's fifteenth album is a classy declaration of longevity and ...

    Caesar Riley (4.5)
    Easily one of the best albums since Powerslave....

  • backtothe80s (4.5)
    For the most part, you can't compare The Final Frontier to the 80s albums, nor should it b...

    loosethefiend (4)
    Though slightly flawed, a solid album for Maiden...

    ECDpower (4)
    This album is proof that Iron Maiden are moving against dying light. If you love metal, t...

    Nicksta101 (4)
    Whether it takes you five listens or one, The Final Frontier is an album which most Iron M...

  • Irving Tan STAFF (3.5)
    With their fifteenth studio release, Iron Maiden have produced their most melodic and comp...

    Michael Philp (4)
    Give it time and Final Frontier will grow on you, this is Iron Maiden doing more then rest...

    CasualListen (4)
    Iron Maiden's 15th studio effort is an absolute blast that will certainly please both fans...

    Mike Stagno EMERITUS (3.5)
    The Final Frontier is the kind of record that takes several listens to truly appreciate, b...

  • BathoryHordes (3)
    Solid but a bit of a letdown, but what could he have expected?...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
August 15th 2010


8259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I wanted to post this at 0:00, but apparently it's been out in Germany since the 13th.

Deceptioneer
August 15th 2010


509 Comments


Taylor is glad to see a Nagrarok review of this. Pos.

Ire
August 15th 2010


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

summary is perfect

Apollo
August 15th 2010


10336 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was planning on reviewing this too

good review dude. How the fuck are you not contributor or staff with 155 reviews?!

Terrifyer
August 15th 2010


3403 Comments


i had no idea this was out already :/

good review as usual

Urinetrouble
August 15th 2010


5764 Comments


this is out?

jingledeath
August 15th 2010


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

kinda sad that i didn't like this cause i used to be such a fanboy but yeah good review.

Deceptioneer
August 15th 2010


509 Comments


Nag doesn't usually review new releases, hence why he can't really be a contributor or staff.

Nagrarok
August 15th 2010


8259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

How the fuck are you not contributor or staff with 155 reviews?!


If I got a dime every time someone asked me that...

Thanks guys.

Apollo
August 15th 2010


10336 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sorry dude :/

Nagrarok
August 15th 2010


8259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

No apology needed. It's a compliment, but I've been asked so many times now. Applied twice, never got the position. Like Deceptioneer said, it's probably because I don't do many new releases.

EVedder27
August 15th 2010


6088 Comments


Woah didn't know these guys were still going. But yeah a few releases like this every once and a while would really help your cause.

Xenorazr
August 15th 2010


460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good review, as always. Something tells me that, when I listen to the album myself, it'll be one of the few times you and I can almost fully agree (if the released samples were any indication).

Yeahtoast
August 15th 2010


2041 Comments


This is gonna be about a 3.5 for me too, 4 at most I think. Not as strong as the last few.

Nagrarok
August 15th 2010


8259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Woah didn't know these guys were still going.


It's quite amazing how good their live reputation still is. I badly need to see them before they call it quits.

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 15th 2010


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice job. I disagree that A Matter of Life and Death feels more long-winded, it's the other way around for me. Still great though, Starblind and Coming Home are super

Digging: Grimes - Visions

Apollo
August 15th 2010


10336 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gotcha, I just looked through your reviews. You reviewed every single Judas Priest album?? That's insane dude

BigHans
August 15th 2010


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great job Nag, amazingly I havent listened yet, just downloaded. Have a Pos.

TheSpirit
August 15th 2010


17930 Comments


This is so disappointing. I wish they would ditch the prog and go back to the more upfront approach of the Dianno era/ NOTB

Nagrarok
August 15th 2010


8259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I disagree that A Matter of Life and Death feels more long-winded, it's the other way around for me.


I think I enjoy AMOLAD more than this overall, it's just the last four tracks there that I feel are slightly long-winded. I know you've fanatically reviewed every Maiden album a few years back, I was wondering whether you were still fan enough to do this.

This is so disappointing. I wish they would ditch the prog and go back to the more upfront approach of the Dianno era/ NOTB


Somewhere I wish that too, but it almost certainly will fail if they do. This is the kind of music they can do best right now, the rawer approach was fantastic, but it worked because they were quite a lot younger back then.



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