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Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls CD (album) cover

THE BOOK OF SOULS

Iron Maiden

 

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3.89 | 213 ratings

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friso
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)

The Beatles of heavy metal return with double cd that will surely please fans, but will leave others thinking if the band isn't becoming TOO Iron Maiden. Longer tracks, more lead themes, more lyrics, more mandatory solo's (you'd better still love Adrian Smith's smoosh smoosh lead guitar) and more of the same Brave New World sound production by Kevin Shirley - who is perhaps heavy metal's greatest plague of the 21th century. Every album until even 'X-Factor' (which I recently started listening to again) except for the troubled 'No Prayer For The Dying' had had its own specific sound and atmosphere, but in the 21 century all five Maiden albums have sounded alike and therefor a bit flat. To me this album again sounds like a great amount of musical power pushed into a tiny tin can. Furthermore, Kevin Shirley has managed to make the band sound a bit amateurish and unsteady.

But let us not only focus on the production. This is after all still an Iron Maiden record! By now the band is totally immersed in its own universe of songwriting as if it were a genre. To compensate we find an openingsection of 'If Eternity Should Fail' with eighties keyboards and some acoustic guitar, some spanish bass-chords on 'The Red and the Black' and the surprising use of piano an cello on the eighteen minute 'Empire of the Clouds'. In interviews the band has described the writing process as working with 'baskets of ideas' put into songs in the studio with the band playing in a live-in-the-studio setting. Both band and producer are happy with this approach. Sometimes it seems to work but the band has totally left the idea of writing a good song. You know, that tight unit in which every element has a part to play and where the guitar solo fired us up for something. To me a lot of material in these tracks sounds mandatory, like the often lifeless solo's and the endless twin leadguitar themes. This doesn't stop some refrains from being very catchy and some themes like the symphonic part in 'The Red and the Black' being exciting, but in the end it comes across as a bit unthoughtfull and unfinished.

Don't get me wrong. I would still love to have a favorite 21th century Iron Maiden album but the band will have to start writing songs again and play them for a while before recording them - with a proper producer. Motorhead, Judas Priest and many others have sounded great the past ten years, so can Iron Maiden. Because of the lack professionalism I can't give more then three stars, though 'the buckets' had some nice ideas in them.

friso | 3/5 |

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