Continuing my reviews of some of the releases of 2015 I had the opportunity to listen to. Keep in mind these are quick, short reviews based on just one listen. I won’t grade the albums because these are just first impressions and that would be unfair. And you’ll notice there’s hardly a highlight about a song, because as just first impressions, these are also difficult to point out.
However, this time I’ll make an exception talking about the new Maiden album. It’s my favorite band (considering The Beatles are from another dimension, so I don’t list them as one of my favorite bands) therefore I already listened to the album many times and can talk about it with more depth.
Paradise Lost – The Plague Within: Yes, kudos to this Doom Metal institution that is Paradise Lost. Once a member of the mighty Doom three, alongside Anathema and My Dying Bride, these Brits seemed to be now the only one still flying the Doom flag and steadily releasing quality albums. At least since the self-titled release from 2005. Anyway, this one follows the same winning formula of the last albums that reached an unbelievable level with last album, Tragic Idol, and improves upon it. It’s heavy, doomy and dark as usual, just as you expect from Paradise Lost. It maybe won’t win them new fans – not that they are too worried about it – but it will please their faithful admirers to-a-t.
Motörhead – Bad Magic: I’m a big Motörhead fan, so it will sound weird even to me what I’m about to write. The fact that this album kicks some serious ass surprised the hell out of me. I bought it more as a must, because I have all their records. I didn’t think it would be so good. Not because I thought they unlearned how to make a great record, but in light of all the health problems Lemmy faced the last several months, I thought that could be a hindrance. But Lemmy seems to be really made of some other material than the rest of us. Even facing every health obstacles imaginable, counting with the priceless help of his bandmates, Phil Campbell (guitar) and Mikkey Dee (drums) he pulled it through and released another collection of loud, raucous Rock and Roll up there with the best of their own catalogue.
Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls: The same feeling I had with Motörhead, I had about Maiden, albeit for a different reason. Although I liked The Final Frontier, I never thought Maiden had it in them a record as good as this new one. By far, the greatest since Bruce and Adrian came back and definitely better than even No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark. I mean there comes a time in every band’s history when it starts to get difficult to come up with original, great ideas. It is actually natural, when the records start to lose a bit of quality. So, I’m actually quite flaberggasted that after two very good albums (A Matter of Life and Death and The Final Frontier), Maiden managed to release an album this wonderful. And I’m not being biased here because I’m much more demanding with the bands I like the most. First of all, there’s no weak track here. Every song is a masterpiece. Poor “The Man of Sorrows” is kind of the black sheep here because a) its title is almost identical to a great track from Bruce’s solo album, Accident of Birth and b) it comes right before the greatest song on the album, one destined to become a World Metal anthem (more on that later). Anyway, it starts with a Bruce gem, “If Eternity Should Fail”, that thankfully Steve Harris didn’t let him keep it for his solo album, followed by the lead single “Speed of Light” with a chorus as catchy as anything Maiden ever did (and how about that typical 70’s Hard Rock cowbell?). The beginning of “The Great Unknown” scared me a little because it reminded me of those terrible intros in The X Factor, but it’s another great moment. “The Red and The Black” is the new millennium “Rime of The Ancient Mariner” and that alone is enough. “When the River Runs Deep” and “The Book of Souls” close the first record on a high note. Record 2 opens with Maiden honoring their NWOBHM roots, with their typical Metal in “Death or Glory”. It is followed by the wonderful “Shadows of the Valley” and its guitar out of the “Wasted Years” rule book. The use of keyboards in this song is the greatest Maiden ever did. “Tears of a Clown” is not a Bruce song, but it did remind me of something from one of his solo albums. Which take us to “Empire of the Clouds.” What can I say? Actually, I’m lost for words to talk about it. A masterpiece in itself? A work-of-art? Bruce’s pinnacle as a songwriter and interpreter? Jim Steinman gone Metal? What if Maiden and Paul O’Neil (from Trans-Siberian-Orchestra and Savatage fame) joined forces? Any way you look at it you’ll see something so wonderful, that it almost eclipses the rest of the record. A song destined to become immortal in the badass pantheon of Metal, a hymn for the ages. Everything is perfect: the hummable catchy melody, the string arrangements, the sheer power of the band and the inimitable Bruce touch. And how about the lyrics? An accurate description of the R101 air disaster that it will take you right inside of it, like a great movie. More than “just” the greatest Metal band of all time, Iron Maiden is the last one (alongside Metallica) in that genre to transcend the tag and get into the realm of Pop music as a giant. Hopefully, they have more in store for us, because those bands are finishing and they don’t have substitutes.
P.S.: Not to blow my own horn here, but the World Series happened just the way I said it would: the games Royals pitchers held the Mets to a maximum of 2 runs difference, their bullpen and small-ball baseball gave them the victory. Fortunately for them it was 4 out of 5 games.
Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
World War Z
Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy
Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”
You can contact me at: email@example.com
Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico
Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico