Since 1983, I’ve been a big fan of Iron Maiden. My first full album experience was “Piece of Mind” and I played that cassette to death. Sure, I had heard the songs “Number Of The Beast” and “Run To The Hills” before that time, but never listened to that entire first album with Bruce Dickinson on vocals. And with each new album that Bruce Dickinson has been at the vocal fore front, I’ve made it a point to play each and every track from all of those releases. It’s not that I didn’t like Paul Di’Anno or Blaze Bayley who came before Bruce and replaced Bruce, respectfully. No, it’s just the power of Bruce’s vocals match the guitars and bass and drums that the rest of the sounds the band creates.
The band’s last album “The Final Frontier” was released over 5 years ago and from it’s title, many of us long time fans were wondering if that was going to be the band’s last album. But thank goodness it wasn’t, but with a bit of a scare at the end of last year, it might have been.
Bruce revealed earlier this year that he had tongue cancer and was battling it around the time the band recorded this new album “The Book of Souls.” Clean and cancer free now, it was a scare for not only us fans, but more importantly, Bruce and the band. Thankfully, the doctors worked to rid Bruce of the cancer and what was recorded ended up being released.
“If Eternity Should Fail”
“Speed of Light”
“The Great Unknown”
“The Red and the Black”
“When the River Runs Deep”
“The Book of Souls”
“Death or Glory”
“Shadows of the Valley”
“Tears of a Clown”
“The Man of Sorrows”
“Empire of the Clouds”
Double The Irons
This is not only Iron Maiden’s longest album, it’s also their first double album of new studio tracks. Clocking in at just over 92 minutes, these 11 songs also happen to contain the band’s longest songs “Empire Of The Clouds” which is just a hair over 18 minutes long and beats out “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” from 1984’s “Powerslave” album, which was 13:34 long.
So how is this new album? Fan-fucking-tastic. All of the songs are so, so good. So well done. Such great bass lines by Steve Harris. Bruce’s vocals are spot on and you would never know he was battling cancer at the time he recorded his vocal parts. My favorite tracks so far are “The Red And The Black” [which just so happens to be the exact same running time as “Rime”], “Tears Of A Clown” [the band’s tribute to actor and comedian Robin Williams] and the first single “Speed Of Light” [which I previously blogged about a few weeks ago].
I’ve tracked this entire album a good 12 times since it came out and it gets better with each listen. Even the final track, “Empire Of The Clouds” which was written by Bruce, is such a well put together song. It’s slow, it’s got that ballad feel to it and it’s got that trademarked Iron Maiden sound that all of us fans fell in love with so many years ago.
If you are a fan and you still do not have this album, so get it. If you are a streaming fan, Apple Music and Spotify have it. And even with streaming services cutting into album sales, the album sold 60,000 the first week of release. While that’s small for today’s album sales and for a heavy metal act with little to no radio or air play, that’s pretty incredible.
For those who do have the album, how are you liking it so far? Any favorite tracks?