WhamBamSam reviews: Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier

This forum is absolutely full of Iron Maiden fans, myself very much among them. After a four year wait following the masterpiece that was A Matter of Life and Death my favorite band has finally released The Final Frontier. I snagged it off of the iTunes store as soon as it was available at midnight on Tuesday morning and have been mainlining it since then, to the point where I now feel I have adequate exposure to discuss it here.

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I hate to say it, but the album doesn't start off all that strong. "Satellite 15.... The Final Frontier" should have been split into two separate songs. The into is overlong and not all that interesting, and even once the song part of the fucking song is reached, it's nothing special by Maiden's standards. It's still not quite a bad song, but I found it disappointing, and would consider it the low point of the album.

Things pick up with "El Dorado" which is the best song on the album. Dickenson puts a lot of personality into the vocals and really brings the malicious character of the speaker to life. Add in the solid instrumentals, with liberal use of Maiden's much beloved guitar/bass gallops and you've got a genuinely brilliant song. Also of special note is the third track "Mother of Mercy" which just forces me to sing along every time I hear it, and will likely be gracing many a setlist in the years to come.


The heaviness is scaled back slightly with "Coming Home," but song quality is undiminished and it has an anthemic air about it that Maiden haven't really captured in their ballads since "Blood Brothers" and while their live performance of "Blood Brothers" is spectacular, I can say with conviction that the album version of "Coming Home" is superior by a significant margin. "The Alchemist" makes a foray back into the band's older, more straightforward style. While it doesn't quite measure up to some of the stuff from the glory days, it's a welcome addition to the album.

The remaining tracks consist of longer, more complex arrangements, the best of which are the "Starblind" and "The Talisman." The remaining three "Isle of Avalon," "The Man Who Would Be King," and "When the Wild Wind Blows" are a bit too long-winded, but as with the opening track, substandard only when held up to the rest of The Final Frontier and the rest of Maiden's extensive library of work.


So how does The Final Frontier come out as a whole? Well I certainly enjoy it, even if it's merely a good album and not one of the band's masterpieces. Number of the Beast and Powerslave remain Maiden's best work, and A Matter of Life and Death is still their best post-reunion album. The Final Frontier falls to the next tier below those three, along with Piece of Mind, Somewhere in Time, Brave New World and Dance of Death where I have a hard time making a distinction of "Album A is better than Album B."

The Final Frontier tries to merge two separate, and somewhat incompatible, if not wholly dissimilar themes. The first of these was their earlier career's undertone of "the world is ending and it is awesome!" The second is the attitude of grim determination in the face of certain destruction that was prevalent throughout A Matter of Life and Death (and which was likely what gave the impression of aging or losing their touch among some fans). Initially this contrast and some of the more intricate compositions are somewhat jarring, but after a few listens the album grows on you. It's an interesting experiment that was at least partially, if not entirely successful. Much like Judas Priest's Nostradamus, The Final Frontier's chief faults come not from is the senility of an aging band, but rather from youthful over-ambition, which is heartening.

tl;dr: Maiden haven't lost their edge yet. They've produced another solid album and more quality metal awaits in the years to come beyond The Final Frontier.

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That reminds me, have you had any luck finding Korean metal?

Anyhow, good review of an album I haven't listened to and thus can't really comment on in any meaningful capacity - I'm not an especially big Iron Maiden fan. By that I mean I just haven't ever gone about listening to them much, not that I don't like them, as I rather enjoyed it when Carmageddon 2 used Maiden for its sound track for example.

Gildan Bladeborn:
That reminds me, have you had any luck finding Korean metal?

Anyhow, good review of an album I haven't listened to and thus can't really comment on in any meaningful capacity - I'm not an especially big Iron Maiden fan. By that I mean I just haven't ever gone about listening to them much, not that I don't like them, as I rather enjoyed it when Carmageddon 2 used Maiden for its sound track for example.

I'll be honest, most of what my investigation turned up was dreadful, but there was one band that I found that I enjoyed. They had some issues, but it was just there first album and they showed a lot of promise. I'll go into it in more detail in my review which I'll probably have up within a few days.

Thanks for commenting regardless. As fond as you are of Power Metal, I wouldn't expect you to be quite as enamored with Maiden as I am. After all most Power Metal borrows from Maiden's more classic work in some capacity, and so someone who became well versed in the subgenre before hearing Iron Maiden, would likely be subject to this phenomenon to some degree.

It's a very good album but not quite among their best. From the Facebook page and the other reviews, El Dorado seems pretty underrated, but I agree that it's probably the best song on the album, along with Mother of Mercy. I wasn't especially keen on The Man Who Would be King or When the Wild Wind Blows. In fact, the latter half of the album seemed quite a bit worse.

Good review, by the way.

Valkyrie101:
It's a very good album but not quite among their best. From the Facebook page and the other reviews, El Dorado seems pretty underrated, but I agree that it's probably the best song on the album, along with Mother of Mercy. I wasn't especially keen on The Man Who Would be King or When the Wild Wind Blows. In fact, the latter half of the album seemed quite a bit worse.

Good review, by the way.

Thank you.

I agree that the first half of the album is better, in that there aren't any real disappointments apart from the title track, but as I said in the review I really like "Starblind" and "The Talisman." The other tracks in the back half are just a bit too overwrought, and lose too much of their intensity in the complexity.

WhamBamSam:

Valkyrie101:
It's a very good album but not quite among their best. From the Facebook page and the other reviews, El Dorado seems pretty underrated, but I agree that it's probably the best song on the album, along with Mother of Mercy. I wasn't especially keen on The Man Who Would be King or When the Wild Wind Blows. In fact, the latter half of the album seemed quite a bit worse.

Good review, by the way.

Thank you.

I agree that the first half of the album is better, in that there aren't any real disappointments apart from the title track, but as I said in the review I really like "Starblind" and "The Talisman." The other tracks in the back half are just a bit too overwrought, and lose too much of their intensity in the complexity.

I liked the title track. It's not amazing, but it's decent, and the intro is damned epic. Starblind and The Talisman were ok, just not especially memorable.

Valkyrie101:

WhamBamSam:

Valkyrie101:
It's a very good album but not quite among their best. From the Facebook page and the other reviews, El Dorado seems pretty underrated, but I agree that it's probably the best song on the album, along with Mother of Mercy. I wasn't especially keen on The Man Who Would be King or When the Wild Wind Blows. In fact, the latter half of the album seemed quite a bit worse.

Good review, by the way.

Thank you.

I agree that the first half of the album is better, in that there aren't any real disappointments apart from the title track, but as I said in the review I really like "Starblind" and "The Talisman." The other tracks in the back half are just a bit too overwrought, and lose too much of their intensity in the complexity.

I liked the title track. It's not amazing, but it's decent, and the intro is damned epic. Starblind and The Talisman were ok, just not especially memorable.

Well, as I seem to be in the minority with regard to the opening, and as it was the song chosen for a music video, in all likelihood they'll end up playing it the next time they come to Michigan, and I could see it being better and more interesting as a live performance. That was certainly the case with "Blood Brothers" which I considered one of the weakest tracks on Brave New World but which absolutely blew me away at their concert.

Hmm. I disagree. I thought the first half of the album was weakest. The opening song was interesting and El Dorado is a good rocker. Mother Of Mercy is okay, but it's the "I'm just a soldier" schtick again, and the chorus is nigh on impossible to sing. The second half of the album is stronger by far, with Isle Of Avalon being possibly the strongest post reunion track so far.

I'll review myself at some point, but I need more time to let the new album excitement settle.

scnj:
Hmm. I disagree. I thought the first half of the album was weakest. The opening song was interesting and El Dorado is a good rocker. Mother Of Mercy is okay, but it's the "I'm just a soldier" schtick again, and the chorus is nigh on impossible to sing. The second half of the album is stronger by far, with Isle Of Avalon being possibly the strongest post reunion track so far.

I'll review myself at some point, but I need more time to let the new album excitement settle.

Well "Isle of Avalon" is essentially just the "death and the unknown" bit which Maiden have explored every bit as thoroughly as the soldier thing. They have a few themes and motifs that they like, and I don't really mind their habit of reusing them as long as consistently good products come out of it. Anyhow, I like "Isle of Avalon" pretty well, I just don't find it quite as memorable or engaging as it should be considering its length.

Anyhow, opinions are what they are, and I'd certainly be interested to hear your thoughts on the album in more detail. I look forward to your review.

i quite like all the songs but my personal favourites have to be Satellite 15...The Final Frontier, Mother of mercy, and when the wild wind blows because while they do take a while to get going once they do they are great but i dont really like the isle of avalon with it just being the least distinctive on the album

 

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