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Articles Home » 2015 Articles » Iron Maiden - 2015 The Book Of Souls
Iron Maiden - 2015 The Book Of Souls

ARTIST: Iron Maiden
ALBUM: The Book Of Souls
LABEL: Parlophone
SERIAL: 0825646089246
YEAR: 2015


LINEUP: Bruce Dickinson - vocals * Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers - guitars * Steve Harris - bass * Nicko McBrain - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01-01 If Eternity Should Fail * 01-02 Speed Of Light * 01-03 The Great Unknown * 01-04 The Red And The Black * 01-05 When The River Runs Deep * 01-06 The Book Of Souls * 02-01 Death Or Glory * 02-02 Shadows Of The Valley * 02-03 Tears Of A Clown * 02-04 The Man Of Sorrows * 02-05 Empires Of The Clouds



The transformation of Iron Maiden into epic progressive metal obsessed dullards has probably been one of the biggest declines in metal history. The critics would have you think otherwise, citing their post 2000 albums onward as instant classics and that somehow Maiden have reinvented heavy metal as a whole, topping their 1980's work. As you probably have ascertained by my past Maiden reviews I've been less than enamored with this change in direction, one which has spanned two decades now. 2010's 'The Final Frontier' was especially galling, repetitive and numbing in every avenue, their worst yet. Somehow five years on Maiden have seen fit to push the limits of monotony to the extreme, with this album a 93 minute feast of every element which makes their current existence so frustrating. It was never going to be a surprise the album would be lengthy, but even the most ardent Maiden fan must be wary of tracks clocking in at 18 minutes for example. To say this makes for excruciating listening is an understatement, my enthusiasm for this band and their music is at its lowest ebb ever.

The Songs
There's a part of me that wants to like what Maiden produce, but it's not possible. The idea of going through this track by track is futile because it's a repeat of ideas heard on the last four albums, with the same boring production by Kevin Shirley who somehow makes the band sound like there's barely one guitarist in the mix, rather than three. What's there to say? Ten tracks, a few short ones with a commercial edge, tempered by a rash of the usual epics, three running over ten minutes. You get the requisite slow bass intros from Harris, slowly building in tempo to some random heavier sections which last a minute or so, with Dickinson rambling about the meaning of life in various forms. If this sounds familiar it should. Take the 18 minute 'Empire Of The Clouds' which takes a good five minutes to even get going; who has time for this slop anymore? It sounds like a studio jam which just happened to be recorded for posterity's sake. Of course there are the sub five minute tracks like 'Speed Of Light' 'Tears Of A Clown' and 'Death And Glory' which are supposed to make up for the endless epics. But even at their most commercial, Maiden have lost their vision, the heaviness is non-existent and 'Speed Of Light' sounds like a reject from 1990 at best.

One of the worst offenders is 'Man Of Sorrows' which could almost be a pop song. It's depressing and very light, even worse than the Blaze Bayley era '2 A.M.' I can't think of a worse comparison. Listening to the Harris intro to 13 minute 'The Red And The Black' could be any one of multiple tracks on the last four albums prior to this. Somehow Maiden's songs have become indistinguishable from each other, the days of their albums having their own identities banished. You'd have to be somewhat of a sadist to sit through it all, the payoff being totally absent. Aren't Maiden supposed to blow you away? Where did it go? Lemmy's 70 and still doing it, why can't these guys? Even a song like 'Where The River Runs Deep' which on the surface is faster, is still ineffective. Wading six minutes into the ten minute title track provides a section which could be from 1984, but in the face of such a bloated and unnecessarily long song it means nothing.

In Summary
Reading reviews of this album by the press who used to revile Maiden in the 90's, you'd think this was the defining masterpiece of Maiden's career. What are they listening to? The funny part is anyone who utters a desire for Maiden to return to their 80's sound is dismissed as living in the past and instead should embrace Maiden's evolution to progressive metal genius. My take is these guys have plundered this direction for 20 years, much longer than their days playing a more direct form of metal that resonated instantly. So who's regressed? How much is enough? Obviously this late in the game that point is irrelevant, but I find this album a revolting display of excess from a band I used to consider the greatest metal band ever. Now it's more along the lines of pretentious metal banality, with 'The Book Of Souls' another nadir for a band I barely recognize anymore.

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#1 | gdazegod on September 11 2015 06:03:34
Perhaps 3/10 is asking a bit too much Alun? lol! I've listened to this album and I can't really get into it. Actually, I found (to my ears at least) some of the playing to be quite sloppy. The drum work in particular is out. Long drawn out epics are a thing of the past. Listening to this is like putting all Iron Maiden CD's on the floor, putting a blind-fold on, and grabbing one at random, and the thing would sound the same..
#2 | dangerzone on September 11 2015 06:51:30
You know mate I wrote this a couple of weeks back and I'd give it zero now. It's beyond wretched, the band just a bunch of rich old wankers harboring illusions of progressive grandeur, as if they've reached some higher plain musically. Then you have the sickening Maiden loyalists who think this is a work of art, one of their best ever. Despicable, the lot of them. These rejects scoff at albums like 'Piece of Mind' and dismiss them as brainless and cartoonish. How did it come to this? How did Maiden con people into thinking they're some kind of intelligent metal band who are suddenly consummate musicians with insightful lyrics and challenging musical interludes? It's a mess and so boring it will put you to sleep.
#3 | gdazegod on September 11 2015 07:51:19
I saw one bloke out there on the Web declaring that Maiden: 'were back!' Like, where the heck were they supposed to have been? Living in a cave?
#4 | dude24 on September 18 2015 01:14:33
Kevin Shirley's production (always) sucks. He has ruined albums by many other acts. Can someone please explain to me why this guy is in demand??? If it weren't for the production, this album would be a classic. Best thing Iron Maiden has done since the 80's.
#5 | fenton on January 08 2016 01:55:19
One look at the song titles here is all it should've taken to know this one was a fucking dud. I stopped at A Matter of Life of Death, haven't heard a track off whatever the last one was and I won't be listening to a single fcking minute of this album. Surely, Alun, you're taking the piss when you say there are people out there that actually admit to liking this stuff? Having said that, it was after seeing Maiden live and witnessing the wretchedness of their fanbase that I decided to never attend live music again.
#6 | Explorer on January 08 2016 12:53:31
I got into a war of words a while back on FB because i dared to call Maiden `an irrelevance`, after the first few albums I gave up on`em....turgid, but hey ho it takes allsorts I suppose.
#7 | dangerzone on January 08 2016 15:47:31
Go the review of this piece of shite on the Blabbermouth site and take some time to scan the comments section. There you'll find the deepest recesses of the Maiden fanbase in all their lunacy.
#8 | MUSCLE on November 11 2017 23:54:36
Lame arsed
Home Counties heavy metal
for ya Henry an Harry rugger buggers
who wear their old style jerseys
with the collar turned up.
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