Iron Maiden
The Final Frontier


4.5
superb

Review

by backtothe80s USER (5 Reviews)
February 17th, 2011 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For the most part, you can't compare The Final Frontier to the 80s albums, nor should it be. The Final Frontier is a record which stands on its own two feet and will have something for everyone to like.

Looking back on Iron Maiden’s career is a journey in itself, one with soaring peaks and undeniable lows. Yet, exactly where those peaks and valleys are on the map have always stirred up much discussion among Iron Maiden fans. For some, The X Factor saw the band scraping the bottom of the barrel, and to others (like myself), the band had been rejuvenated after two rather disappointing releases. For some people, No Prayer For The Dying was definitely worthy of being ranked among the classics, and to others (like myself), No Prayer was definitely a disappointment, especially considering the predictable songs and sloppy solos it housed.

Then there were the post-reunion albums. Brave New World, while being mostly hailed as an excellent come-back album (especially considering the crucial return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith), also drew criticism from fans who wanted nothing to do with the progressive elements Maiden adapted. And while this group may have been a minority, it slowly grew with each following Maiden release up to A Matter Of Life And Death.

Now don’t get me wrong, I personally love progressive Maiden, and I believe that the last three albums have possessed some of the strongest songwriting of their career. I am merely pointing out the obvious line that’s been drawn between the die-hards and those clamoring for Powerslave II (or No Prayer II if that is your taste). With The Final Frontier, many hoped that the line between these groups could vanish, and once again all of the numerous Maiden fans would unite under the single banner of the mascot Eddie (this time in alien form). So, on August 16th (17th here in the States), the world saw countless fans worldwide rush to music stores to buy their own copy of The Final Frontier, practically holding their breath as they raced home to hear what the band had in store for them.

By this time, you may be thinking Get on with it newbie, your rating says everything anyway. Putting it frankly, The Final Frontier is a superb album, a modern classic in metal and an essential album to long-time fans of the band. At least, that is my opinion. Others may think differently; and after all, I am one fan in a sea of people who adore Iron Maiden (that you can’t deny). Here today though, I’ll put forth my reasoning as to why The Final Frontier is a great album, and hopefully it will get through to people on both sides of the line.

Let’s start with the band itself. Thirty five years in and still making music is an accomplishment that not many can claim. And after all this time, Iron Maiden still has the energy and overall drive to write and play a wide variety of hard rock/power metal songs. The back-to-back songs Coming Home and The Alchemist showcase this point excellently. While hardly representative to the rest of the music on the album, these two songs in particular are great examples showcasing the band’s flexibility when writing songs.

Then there is the music. With an average song-length nearing seven-and-a-half minutes, some rightfully would fear of bloated repetition ala The Angel And The Gambler. Rest assured, nothing on here is as boring as that monstrosity, and the fact is that songs on The Final Frontier usually contain so many smooth changes in time, beat, and riffing that one can not help but sit on the edge of their seat, wondering what journey the music will take them on nest. The Talisman is probably the best example of this on the album, with different riffs, tempos, and vocal melodies erupting every minute. After the chorus though, Iron Maiden goes all out in what can be described as a mixing of desperate guitars on top of amazing drum fills, all highlighting a brilliant solo similar to the one in the end of Metallica’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. It’s one of the album’s most unexpected moments, and one of the most epic and best.

Besides the music though, another highlight of the album is the lyrics. Ranging from pure fantasy on songs like Isle Of Avalon and The Man Who Would Be King to modern-day issues told in a very H.G. Wells manner, the band brings their A-Game once again and prove that they are THE step above everyone else, the lyricists that others wish they could be. Take these lines in El Dorado for example: So now my tale is told/ bigger, badder, twice as bold/the ship of fools is sinking as the cracks begin to grow/there is no easy way/for an honest man today/which is something you should think on as my life boat sails away.

Just in case you weren’t already familiar with El Dorado’s lyrical themes, El Dorado examines the bankers who left people to lose all their money in the 2008 economic crash. Again I must compare lines like these to the themes of H.G. Wells’s novels, which turned concepts like the conquering of Native Africans into the conquering of the Human Race in War of the Worlds. It’s all very clever, and can be found a number of times on the album. The Talisman can be interpreted as a metaphor for the obstacles in life, Starblind can be seen as choosing a life bound to religion or free to do what you will, and When The Wild Wind Blows, a personal favorite of mine, can be seen as an attack on media-induced paranoia, which in this song’s case, killed an elderly couple.

So there you have it: One person’s analysis of The Final Frontier. An album which I deem very well-rounded, and an excellent outing considering that it the fifteenth album by an 80’s metal band. Just like Brave New World or Dance of Death, everyone can find something to enjoy on these records, from rockers El Dorado and The Alchemist, to the ballad Coming Home, to epics like The Talisman found mostly on the second half of the album. Many before me have said that the album takes several listens to get used to, and while I can’t disagree, I can’t entirely agree either. It all depends on personal music taste and on which side of the aforementioned line you find yourself on.


user ratings (1162)
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....

  • 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?...

  • Matthijs van der Lee (3.5)
    Maiden will be Maiden......


Comments:Add a Comment 
MetalMassacreAttack
February 17th 2011


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I took 3 listens or so to trully appreciate this blast of an album.

Good review, seemed very sincere.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7318 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

For a first review this was a great start. Well done indeed.

The only criticism that I might suggest at this point is that you should probably try to avoid using too many personal pronouns. The review reads a bit too conversationally at times, and that tends to take away from the overall weight of the opinion. But still, good start.

Welcome to the site! Hope to hear more from you soon!

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Edwin
February 17th 2011


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pretty good first review. This album grew so well.

tiesthatbind
February 17th 2011


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I second what Irving said. Pretty good for a first, but stay away from using "I" too much. Also, you don't need to keep saying things like "this is just my opinion, but..." and other statements like that. Not only do they make you look less confident in your arguments, they're unnecessary. It's your review, we already know it's your opinion.

Other than that, you're off to a good start, welcome to the site. Have a pos.

Digging: Poets of the Fall - Twilight Theater

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7318 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

It's your review, we already know it's your opinion.

Word.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2011


21437 Comments


I agree with the others, this is a great first review.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2011


6281 Comments


i have a physical copy of this somewhere, but still haven't listened to it yet...

Digging: Deadwood - Picturing a Sense of Loss

LepreCon
February 18th 2011


4151 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I preferred to listen to each track individually over time, it's a lot to take in all at once. Great review, man

Edwin
February 18th 2011


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think I ended up liking this a little more than A Matter of Life and Death, which means it's my favourite since Seventh Son.

LepreCon
February 18th 2011


4151 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah but AMOLAD had 'Different World' and that's one of my top Maiden songs like ever

WhiteNoise
February 18th 2011


3243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

AMOLAD felt like a complete album and it really works because of that. This album just feels like a set of decent songs.

Edwin
February 18th 2011


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I guess. Maybe you guys are right, it's all good shit though.

WhiteNoise
February 18th 2011


3243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's just personal taste man. I shall be seeing them for the second time in a few weeks, I hope to hear some newer era stuff (brave new world onwards) live!

Edwin
February 18th 2011


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm seeing them at Soundwave too, apparently they're doing basically all new era stuff apart from three or four classics, which I'm stoked for.

I could be wrong though.

WhiteNoise
February 18th 2011


3243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fuck yeah! People will be annoyed at that, but since I saw the last tour (just old songs) I couldn't be happier!

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2011


21437 Comments


Personally I prefer AMOLAD, this does rule though.

Edwin
February 18th 2011


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Unfortunately I missed the last tour, but I've seen and heard so many live albums/vids that I won't mind missing out on a few of the classic songs. The newer albums are practically just as good.

WhiteNoise
February 18th 2011


3243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah man. Who else you seeing?

Edwin
February 18th 2011


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'll be mostly there for Maiden, Slayer, Primus, Kylesa, and Coheed. Would've loved Melvins but they clash with Maiden. I'll hopefully just cruise around and catch a bit of everyone though. You? Which city for you?

Edwin
February 18th 2011


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh, and I would've loved Third Eye Blind, Fucked Up, and Protest the Hero too. Stupid clashes.



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