THE DEMO CORNER
Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
August 23, 2010
Iron Maiden is one of the few bands that can say that they have been around for over 30 years in a continuous manner, meaning no break-ups followed by reunions and other similar situations. Yes, Iron Maiden has seen its share of lineup changes as well as its controversies (Remember Blaze Bayley as vocalist?), but through it all, Iron Maiden seems to come out of it as good as they have ever been.
Now entering the 2010’s decade, the six-piece return with a new album in The Final Frontier, and while like its recent efforts, it isn’t nearly the Iron Maiden of old, there is still enough of the Iron Maiden mystique on the album that will at least, satisfy some Maiden fans.
The Final Frontier kicks off with “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier,” which comes off as a jazz jam session with Bruce Dickinson’s vocals that start around the 2:30 mark. That description doesn’t sound promising for the album, but a band that has been around for a while should be entitled to a few sparks of experimentation. In fact, the experimentation is hardly the album’s biggest problem. The biggest problem with the album is that with a running time that nears 80 minutes, it tends to sound longer than it really is, with only “The Alchemist” being under the five minute mark. This will test even the most veteran of Maiden fans, as it will take some time to get a good idea of everything that the band is trying to do. That aside, The Final Frontier is one of the better modern day Iron Maiden albums. I say modern because as the band gets older, it would be harder for them to match their early albums and even though the distinct Iron Maiden sound is still there on their newer albums like The Final Frontier, there isn’t much of a chance that they will match what they have done in their younger days. The closest that the band gets to their heyday is “El Dorado,” which is the band’s first single from the album. Listeners expecting something resembling Seventh Son of the Seventh Son or even Fear of the Dark, the last great Iron Maiden albums, will be disappointed with The Final Frontier. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any reason not to check out the album. Dickinson’s vocals are still as potent as ever, and the music is competent, at worst. Tracks such as “The Alchemist” and “El Dorado” are the best songs on the album. Kevin Shirley is behind the album’s production, which should be no surprise, given that he has been behind the production boards for the band since Brave New World. The production values offer a more rock feel to the sound and depending on how you feel about Iron Maiden’s more recent work, could either be good or bad.
Overall, The Final Frontier is one of Iron Maiden’s better albums in the last twenty years. To some, that may not be saying much, but if one can temper their expectations of Iron Maiden to current times, then there is much to like about The Final Frontier. It is an album that won’t blow away the listener, but it fits nicely into the band’s ever growing discography, once the listener can get past the fact that it feels a lot longer than it should.
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1. Satellite 15…The Final Frontier
2. El Dorado
3. Mother of Mercy
4. Coming Home
5. The Alchemist
6. Isle of Avalon
8. The Talisman
9. The Man who would be King
10. When the Wild Wind Blows
Total playing time: 76:35
Release Date: August 16, 2010
Label: EMI / Sony Music