Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier (2010)

With the full embracement of their progressive style in their previous album, it was pretty predictable that Iron Maiden would continue down that path in their 15th album. And sure enough, the band left the atmosphere and took their music out of this world with the 2010 release "The Final Frontier". A album that could hint to be Maiden's last (Steve Harris have even said that 15 albums is the amount that he thought his band would release), but in recent interviews, all the members have been positive of releasing future material.

Just like with its predecessor ("A Matter of Life And Death"), there are few songs in "The Final Frontier" that are easily digestible, and those songs are also the weak point with this album. The opening track is divided into two parts. The first part, "Satellite 15", Is a very interesting start with fast paced bass lines and a space like feeling. Unfortunately, this song gets completely wrecked when the title track kicks off with its predictable structure and annoying chorus. I wished that "Satellite 15" would have been a song of its own, since I think it would fit perfectly with the rest of the album. Out of the other easy tracks I would say that the epic "Coming Home" is the only one that qualifies in the recognition zone. It is a great track about Bruce's experiences in the aviation business and I definitely wished that they would have released this as a single instead of the hooky, but still slightly boring "El Dorado".

It stands very clear that it is the long and progressive songs that is running the show and there are a lot of them in the second half of the album. The last 5 songs have a total play time of 45:31, with the longest song, "Where The Wild Winds Blow", clocking in at 11:02 (third longest song, after "The Sign of The Cross" and "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner", in the Maiden catalog). I can honestly say that this album would have sunk if it was not for these 5 songs. Each song tells a own interesting story that is intriguing and raises the mood of the listener. From the "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son" inspired "Isle of Avalon" to the high soaring "The Talisman", the latter half of "The Final Frontier" is a showcase of Maiden's ultimate progressive strength. You might not see it instantly after the first couple of listening sessions, but if you take your time to appreciate the content, then the content will award you big time.

It is a little sad to see that this album is so clearly divided into two parts, 'cause I want to see what the band can do when they put out a album filled with epic stories and melodies. That is the clear weak point with this album together with the title track.

If it was not for the sluggish start, then I would rate "The Final Frontier" as the best album since "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son". It is really interesting to see Maiden spreading its wings and take its music where it has never been before, instead of just staying on the ground and play it safe. But this also have its price. "The Final Frontier" demands its listener and you cannot just speed it through in one go. If this would to be the last album by the band (which is highly unlikely), then I would be very proud of the band for closing their career with such a epic piece. Because in the end, this album is truly "out of this world" (he he).

Songs worthy of recognition: The Talisman, Coming Home, Where The Wild Winds Blow

Rating: 8/10 Alchemists

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