Review Summary: An Epic Tale Of Magnificence
Iron Maiden is the kind of band that needs no introduction. Through their monstrous, and consistently active, 40 years they have established themselves as one of the best metal bands in the world and with their new album “The Book Of Souls”, they continue to demonstrate just how to successfully uphold such a colossal title.
The first chapter, ‘If Eternity Should Fail’, begins as Bruce’s rhapsodic voice pierces through a synth fanfare which immediately expels any worries fans might have about his recovery from tongue cancer. He sounds mystical, confronting and levitated throughout the 8 minutes and doesn’t hog the spotlight from his battle-hardened tribesman. The chorus on ‘Speed Of Light’ is infectious however the flexuous riffs from Adrian Smith glimmer as they swiftly glide around in a mash of alternate leads from Janick Gers and Dave Murray.
Bruce Dickinson’s increased lyrical additions are definitely noticeable: as a certified pilot, he approaches his song-writing directly. ‘Death or Glory’ is about triplanes used in WW1 where the frolicking guitars symbolise the frantic dogfights of the sky. The visionary 18 minute epic ‘Empire Of The Clouds’ is about the R101 airship disaster and starts fragilely where Bruce is lightly tapping melodies on piano but builds in awe as his lyrics depict the glory of the airship. As it takes flight, the tempo adjusts to become quicker which makes the mood even more majestic. Everything explodes at the 8:28 mark: flames of recklessly heavy solos and extra drum fills cover the sky as the ship is bought down in a ball of flame and desolation that ends the album solemnly. It’s not the only solemn moment on this double album though; ‘Tears Of A Clown’ explains the mannerisms of depression. Etched into the false face of happiness are lines of despair and misery: this is the general inspiration behind the tribute to Robin Williams. The music reflects this emotion with a gentle plod of bass and simple drum beats from Nicko McBrain that are shadowed by jovial guitar riffs and solos.
With an average age of 57, Iron Maiden embody their music as if they where half their age. About 7 minutes in to ‘The Red And The Black’, harmonies from all members crash together in a typical Iron Maiden pantomimic fashion to conjure a truly masterful and captivating tone to the album. Naturally, as a 13 minute song it’s got to include some tribal war cries from Bruce and he does not disappoint- you can almost hear every person singing “wooaaohhoho” when they play this live. As innovators of NWOBHM, the classic sound is heard during ‘When The River Runs Deep’ which emphasizes their untouchably energetic attitude through rolling bass a cascade of harmonies from the 6 string trio.
A band as characteristic as the Iron Maiden clan develops an aura of nostalgia when they release new music; and it’s something all fans want to experience. If you want to sing “wooahs” along with Bruce Dickinson, ululate to the trio of guitar melodies or simply bang your head to the gallop of Steve Harris' bass and Nicko’s drumming hooks then you’ll undoubtedly be a fan of this. In essence “The Book Of Souls” is an epic composition of everything the sextet have previously perfected but with a dash of added progressiveness.