Review by Mohsen Fayazi
01. If Eternity Should Fall
02. Speed of Light
03. The Great Unknown
04. The Red and the Black
05. When the River Runs Deep
06. The Book of Souls
01. Death or Glory
02. Shadows of the Valley
03. Tears of a Clown
04. The Man of Sorrows
05. Empire of the Clouds
After more than three decades, they are not only a musical group and not only Metal Gods, but they are the master builders of an admirable culture, a legacy and more importantly, a way to think differently and live differently. IRON MAIDEN are set to re-energize the engine of magnificent old school heavy metal with their newest album, “The Book of Souls”.
Obviously, this is a really important album for the band and the fans, as it could be their final encore of honour and glory, due to Bruce Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis. However, the quality of music, lyrics, production and all other parts of this album tells us that “The Book of Souls” is a piece of true metal which the other metal icons, JUDAS PRIEST and BLACK SABBATH, could not repeat with their latest albums. IRON MAIDEN ‘s sixteenth studio album, is definitely a tornado of passion, which does not show any signs of decades old dust and it will feed the hungry fans after a five year gap.
The world has changed from thirty years ago, but Maiden is still great, energetic and metal, loyal to the oath! In a world which is filled every day by death and tragic news, “The Book of Souls” is a drama about death and what may come after it, however it is not a conceptual album. It begins in a mysterious, confusing, psychedelic and epic theme with ‘If Eternity Should Fail’, written by Bruce Dickinson, and it will be familiar, especially to those who have followed him with his solo projects. Bruce‘s voice still sounds as fresh, pure and great as the early days, but with much more maturity throughout the whole of the album.
This is serious, not only because “The Book of Souls” is their longest album but also it is one of the heaviest and darkest Maiden has ever released, though the vintage blood of NWOBHM is running through its veins. Very well balanced music, it has its ups and downs but harmony rules, the spirits of five incredible persons and a culture can be heard from their instruments. There are fast, powerful and heavy tracks such as ‘Speed of Light’, ‘When the River Runs Deep’ and ‘Death or Glory’, able to rock you from head to toe. And there are some songs which are a little bit slower, but still heavy and dark, such as ‘The Man of Sorrows’ and ‘Empire of the Clouds’ which create such a brainstorm about the most mysterious, confusing and unanswered questions about life and death.
There have been always one or two tracks in all Maiden‘s albums which are longer than others and this one is no exception. However there are two songs which are like the Nile river, the longest ever Maiden offerings. ‘The Red and the Black’ at 13:14 long, starts with an acoustic guitar and electric bass following each other in a sort of tragic pattern, then a rhythmic strike comes from the guitars and drums and the lead guitar joins the party with those kind of melodic ‘Maideny’ riffs. The self titled song is a masterpiece when the band opened the gate of Babylon, using some oriental music scales, unleashing a storm of talent and creativity in IRON MAIDEN. ‘Empire of the Clouds’ is the last shot of this magnificent and glorious theatre, a song at an incredible 18:02 in length, the edge of rupture between reality and truth, when a creative mind breaks the chains and flies. Agony, sorrow, despondency and that bloody familiar feeling like something important is missing, are the main components of this amazing power ballad and the band knew no limits in using the violin, piano, keyboard and cello. Have you ever felt joy from sadness and sorrow?! This song is creating one of those moments, upon a cloudy empire, where time flies faster but every music note counts.
It feels like there is a soul, extending its shadows through the whole of this album or a super-harmony, which makes it impossible to choose a song as the best or greatest, all the tracks must be seen as part of one thing. IRON MAIDEN‘s newest album “The Book of Souls” is not a book you just want on your shelves, but it is a magnificent volume of William Shakespeare and in the end, the question is “To be or not to be…“