Iron maiden’s 15th studio album ‘the book of souls’ is without a doubt the most important release of 2015. It may also be the most important record in these legends’ career.
It seems fitting that the first thing you hear on disc 1 is Bruce’s voice. He simply took my breath away. It’s unbelievable when you remember he had Cancer during the recording. ‘Speed of light’ is classic maiden air raid siren howl, a killer solo duel and buckets of momentum. It struck me as being very reminiscent of ‘El Dorado.’ ‘The great unknown’ would have sat well on brave new world. A subtle intro soon explodes into life with speedy riffing and a potent vocal delivery from Dickinson. ‘The Red and the Black’ is Steve Harris’ only solo writing credit on his bands sixteenth release. His bass is prominent for the all thirteen and a half minutes of this juggernaut, but he never overrides the others, instead providing bedrock for them to build upon. A standout not only on this release but in Maiden’s career. Here’s hoping it stays in their live set for s long time. ‘When the River Runs Deep’ is a mid-paced stomper with a metallic edge. Don’t worry though blistering solos provide ample silver lining. Let be honest for a moment, it was only a matter of time before this rowdy lot wrote a song about human sacrifice. Clocking in at just under ten and a half minutes the title track oozes menace in a way few Maiden songs ever have.
Disc 2 opens with ‘Death or Glory’ which provides a dynamic contrast with the track that preceded it. Defiant and impassioned lyricism along with a fast tempo leading to a complete change in atmosphere. ‘Shadow of the Valley’ is a classic Maiden ripper. It’s difficult to think of another band that could pack this many addictive riffs and catchy melodies into one song. I defy anyone not to roar along when this one is played live. ‘Tears of a Clown’ finds Harris and crew paying an emotionally charged tribute to Robin Williams, who was a long time fan before his tragic death. This one’s got a wicked little main riff – short and sharp – very, very old school sounding. The solos are special as well, you can tell every member put extra effort into recording this one. You can feel every note and I know the clown would approve. ‘The Man of Sorrows’ shares its name with a song on Bruce Dickinson’s solo release ‘Accident of Birth’ there’s a dreamy texture to it that I haven’t heard from these gents before. The vocal effects are a neat trick also. Hopefully Maiden will continue to experiment with that in the future. I for one am in no doubt ‘Empire of the Clouds’ will go down as the definitive Maiden epic. The 18 plus minute behemoth, entirely written by Dickinson, its that fucking good. Maiden meets Dream Theatre, just awesome!
Trust in metal my acolytes and have no fear for I shall ride again \m/