Iron Maiden
Fear of the Dark



by northerncomfort USER (26 Reviews)
December 29th, 2006 | 17 replies

Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With the few good tracks suffocated by appaling vocals and production, there is very little on here worht hearing.

The 90s were not kind to Maiden. They released 4 studio albums, all of which spectacularly failed to live up to the standards set by their prior output. The replacement for Bruce, Blaze Bayley, was probably in fear for his life, let alone the dark, the chagrin he recieved for his efforts. However, the rot had set in long before Bayley reared his head. In was in fact Adrian Smiths departures from his guitar duties that catalysed the bands fall, and it is in this album, the second and most listenable of that decade, that the proof is concrete.

For a start, Bruces vocals almost throughout make the album unlistenable. From his attempt at growling menacingly in Be Quick or Be Dead, a pathetic and poor attempt to match the emerging grunge crowd, to his old man strains in Afraid to Shoot Strangers, strangulating what so desperately wants to be a good song as effectively as he has his voice. The only real moments where his vocals are passable are Judas My Guide, where he decides to sing for parts of it, and Childhoods End, where he fails to wreck the song entirely.

But Bruce is not the only member failing here. The guitar interplay which so dazzled throughout even the weaker moments of Maidens output till the 90s, is practically gone in any meaningful sense. No, Janeck Gers in not a bad guitarist, and as his recent work with the band proves, they couldn't really have found a better replacement for Smith. However, it took Murray and Smith over 9 years (they played together as kids) to build the telepathic understanding they had for each other by Sevent Son, and it can't simply be replaced. As such, mid sections in songs such as Afraid to Shoot Strangers and even at this point the title track, lack the vitality and eagerness of most of the guitar moments produced by this band.

Harris too, seems to have relapsed. His songs just don't work. Wasted Love could be so epic, but aside from the terrible production that stifles the whole album, it just doesn't work. The chord stabs at the end each chorus line, don't emphasize anything, they rob the track of continuity. Elsewhere, From Here to Eternity is just silly and cliched, The Fugitive is boring and Weekend Warrior is by far the worst song ever put forward by Maiden for my money with its depressingly bad melodies and beyond terrible lyrics (its as if they're trying to make the soundtrack to Danny Zucko: The Later Years).

Furthermore, he seems to have completely edited himself out of the mix. Despite being so prevalent on almost everything else by Maiden, the only time the bass makes an appearance is when there are only lead guitars playing. Everything else suffers from poor poduction too. The powerful guitar lines in Afraid to Shoot Strangers (once Bruce stops 'singing') could have been so huge, but despite still being good, sound tight and compressed. So too do the guitar lines in the title track (listen to the live version and then the album version to see what I mean), and when not making the guitars and drums devoid of power, the production makes them sound fake and poppy (The Apparition, Chains of Misery, Wasted Love). The drums are poorly miked too.

It is not however, all bad. There are some good songs on here, most notably Childhoods End and Judas Be My Guide. The former is a genuinely affecting song detailing the loss of innocence in thrid world countries due to their harsh realities, and its guitar refrains seem more heartfelt than much more on this album. The latter however is a straight out rocker, which defies the small production to still sound epic. The fact that Bruce has decided to sing and even add some interesting harmonies helps too.

The title track also, as we all know, is one of the best songs Maiden has released. Its inventive and soaring duals between Gers and Murray lift the soul, and the chorus is a real fist pumper. Not on the album though. No, Bruce's shoddy vocals and terrible production have seen to that. The Rock in Rio version is amazing, epic and full. But thats not the one on display here.

And unfortunately, thats what you're paying for. So, here's my advice. If the title track makes you want to buy this, get Rock in Rio. If you want to hear what it sounds like, be my guest, but be warned. This is Maiden at their best during their very worst, and it aint that great. Safer to download the good tracks, and forget the 90's ever happened.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 29th 2006


Yeah, this album kinda sucks.

December 29th 2006


Album Rating: 2.0

You're Maiden reviews are awesome.

December 29th 2006


Album Rating: 2.0

Why, thankyou. Funny thing is, they're my favourite band, but most of their albums are pretty hit and miss for me.

December 29th 2006


Album Rating: 2.0

Have you reviewed Powerslave yet?

December 29th 2006


This album is decent. Title track is great though. Good review.

Digging: Bill Callahan - Gold Record

Apocalyptic Raids
December 29th 2006


One of Maiden's worst.

December 30th 2006


Album Rating: 2.5

Fear of The Dark, the song, is ace though.

December 30th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

Cover art is awesome, I have a shirt with it. Title track is brilliant and you nailed it with the Rock In Rio call, it sounds incredible there. Nice work, you are on a roll.

December 30th 2006


Album Rating: 2.0

My dad has a shirt that has Eddie playing the bass on the front, and on the back it says Fear of the Dark.

My dad saw 'em on the tour they did with this album.This Message Edited On 12.29.06

EDIT: And he saw 'em in 1986This Message Edited On 12.29.06

December 30th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, but definitely not that bad of an album.

I fully agree on your comment on Fear of the Dark, it's a totally different song when it's played live. Actually, the first Iron Maiden song I heard was the Rock in Rio version of FOTD (which rocked my socks) then I heard the studio one and it was a letdown.

When I saw them live they played Fear of the Dark better than they did at Rock in Rio :-)This Message Edited On 12.29.06

December 30th 2006


I'd love to see you do Powerslave :smoke:
Another good review :thumb:

December 30th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

afraid to shoot strangers is an awesome track :/

December 30th 2006


Album Rating: 2.0

I found a cover of Iron Maiden doing Master of Puppets on the internet and downloaded it. It wasn't MoP though, it was just Be Quick Or Be Dead.

December 30th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. This album is alright, mostly because the title track is very good. Rest is a bit hit and miss.

Digging: Despised Icon - Purgatory

November 21st 2007


proof that they were trying to change?

derek riggs didn't paint the was his only absence until dance of death

November 23rd 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

"Be Quick or Be Dead" has some cool bass on it, worth noting given how much you critiqued the bass generally.

January 3rd 2018


Album Rating: 2.0

Definitly worse than "no prayer"...

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