Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
Well, this is certainly fitting. After a long absence, your source for top-notch metal here at ME returns and, lo and behold, Iron Maiden has done the same. Sure, the album's been out for 6 months now, but as you can see, without Solitary in the mix, good things are overlooked! The Final Frontier is legendary outfit Iron Maiden's 15th studio foray and it marks the first of their 4th decade of existence. While that fact settles in, it should be known that perhaps better than any band in history, Iron Maiden has prolonged their relevence and remarkable songwriting ability throughout the years. There have been periods of stagnation, and a stretch of albums sans Bruce Dickinson (The Blaze years) that many fans discredit as true Maiden "products", but to round the bend from that to a series of progressively more robust and enjoyable records shows you the legend is still creating itself. What does The Final Frontier hold for the legions of fans worldwide? Plenty...perhaps more than any other album in their exstensive catalog...
A quick overview: 75 minutes of music compacted into 10 songs. The nature of this beast has always revolved around layers of musical ideas, bridged with unnatural skill and bravado, soaked in a solution of instrumental flair, aggressive percussion, and lyrical themes to lose oneself within. The goal is total immersion. The Final Frontier achieves the goal, so well so in fact that one begins to wonder how long they can continue to one-up themselves. As opener "Satellite 15...The Final Frontier" quickly ramps up behind warped guitar distortion and a driving beat, swirling up in a maelstrom as Dickinson broadcasts a last gasp message to an unhearing planet below. As the song ramps into traditional Maiden mode, you're quickly able to see that they're not resting on anything tried and true; there's still ample creativity left in this collective. "El Dorado" is a fantastic up-beat single, with some flashy guitar work and interesting subject matter. "Mother of Mercy" really grabbed me the first time around, it's lyrics entrenched in the horrors of war and man's grasp at something more meaningful in the face of mass destruction. "Coming Home" seems to be an addendum to the previous track, a mid-paced anthemic rocker that details a man's relief to be home but inability to be truly at peace. Of all these tracks, the one that seems to be in the vein of their "hits" (Run to the Hills, Number of the Beast) is "The Alchemist", an up-tempo punch in the gut that's truly one of the catchiest songs they've penned in years. The 2nd half of the album is home to some extended epics, all of which have plenty to offer the patient listener. It may take multiple listens to let it all sink in, but it's definitely worth it. "The Talisman", in particular, is my favorite track on the album, and indeed one of my all-time favorite Maiden songs.
Of all their albums to date, The Final Frontier feels more progressive, more cohesive, and more fleshed out than any since perhaps "Seventh Son". It truly is a remarkable album, beyond the fact that Iron Maiden has been doing this for 30+ years. The music within is extremely refined, unpredictable at it's best and straightforwardly rocking at it's worst (that's called nitpicking...the worst they can do is sound similar to what they've done, and there's NOTHING wrong with that!). You'll get everything you want (and then some) out of an Iron Maiden album on The Final Frontier.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.
on 2011-02-16 hstisgod Said:
Wow, I'm excited to go check this out, great review Kevin! Had forgotten this album came out.
on 2011-02-16 Sinist3r Punk Said:
A fitting return for the M.E. Lord of Metal. Welcome back Kev.
on 2011-02-16 SolitaryMan Said:
Thanks man. Yeah, I was surprised to not see it reviewed so long after it's release, but I'm glad this was my "return to ME" review. It was probably my favorite album last year.
on 2011-02-16 Sinist3r Punk Said:
God damn you Kevin, I was hoping to get to this first haha. Great review, you really did the album justice.