Iron Maiden the Book of SoulsOn October 5th, 1930 while flying over France on its maiden voyage, the airship R101 crashed, killing 48 of the 54 people on board. The ship was the jewel of the British empire and had been built with increased lifting capacity, and was (at the time) the world’s largest flying vessel. Much like the Titanic, the R101 is a story of hubris—particularly as told by Dickinson on the track “Empire of the Clouds,” The Book of Souls‘ 18-minute closer. The R101 never was put through its paces, having not done full endurance and speed trials, before it undertook its maiden voyage for India, and on that voyage it tragically crashed. As a closer, “The Empire of the Clouds” is an epic which pushes Iron Maiden into territory never before explored. As an analogy for The Book of Souls, it strikes a little too close to home.

At 93 minutes, The Book of Souls is the longest album the venerable deities of heavy metal have ever produced. Two CDs of music, 50 and 43 minutes respectively, were composed and arranged when the band came together to produce the new record. In the French studio the band used for Brave New World all the songs were written, arranged, learned and recorded, which gives the album a live and raw sound—made more so by the fact that the record was recorded with a live feel and lots of single takes. Close listens reveal missed pick strokes and rhythmic variations unusual on professional releases. This leads to a sound that isn’t polished like Brave New World or Dance of Death, but continues the trend started on A Matter of Life and Death and The Final Frontier. This tone and approach has been pretty roundly criticized by a lot of fans, but it’s a sound that works; the live feel has a spontaneity and confidence to it that only a band like Maiden could feel. Unlike A Matter of Life or Death, though, The Book of Souls borders on the the realms of over-mastering (DR 8 on my CD version), which given the number of moving parts is a missed opportunity, especially given how rangy this material is. Regardless, The Book of Souls sports considerable heft, there’s pretty good balance between the instruments, and the drums still pop.

Iron Maiden in 2015

Despite a good sound and great feel, The Book of Souls is, politely, over-leveraged. The shortest song on the entire album is “Tears of a Clown,” which clocks in at 4:59. But songs pushing 7, 8 or 10 minutes aren’t uncommon and repeated deep listens don’t justify these lengths. “The Red and the Black” is a classic Harris epic that clocks in at 13:33, and I like it; but you could shave 4 or 5 minutes off the song easily simply by removing musical non sequiturs and unnecessary repetition. The song peaks 10 minutes in, rocking an absolutely epic lead and solo that evokes Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; but it would be more effective if it had been trimmed to 8 minutes instead. The title track “The Book of Souls” is a Gers and Harris piece, and likely my favorite song on the album, but it still could lose two minutes on acoustic brackets at the front and back. Even on shorter songs, bridges and repetitions could be tightened getting at the focus of the track, making them more effective and immediate.

Sonically, the vocals are done with the same stripped down feel as its predecessor. Very few harmonies, meager after-effects, and a lot of vocal lines that sound like they were done with Bruce running around on stage settings characterize the vocal approach on this album. This is probably best demonstrated by the first single “Speed of Light,” where Dickinson starts off with a “Be Quick or Be Dead” wail and scoops into the high note in the chorus. But it stood out to me with every listen, Bruce’s top range sounds forced at times and both the vocal takes and some of the melodies sound like they were finished on the first take—regardless of whether or not they were.

Iron Maiden 2015-2More concerning is that some of the melodies and lyrics on this record are pretty tough to love. The section after about two minutes in “The Man of Sorrow” is practically unlistenable and would have been better on the cutting room floor. The verse melody in “Death or Glory” is weak, as is the bridge in “When the River Runs Deep”—and they both give off the impression of being dashed together, not having taken time to really develop the melodies as far as they could have used. “Tears of a Clown” and “When the River Runs Deep” both have end-rhyme laden lyrics that are tough to listen to, reminiscent of my least favorite aspects of H’s Somewhere in Time compositions. These songs definitely have their moments, and it’s not all bad, of course. Bruce sounds absolutely great at other times, nailing “Empire of the Clouds,” “Shadows of the Valley” and “The Book of Souls.” The former is written entirely by him and the latter two are written by Janick Gers primarily, and they all sport great melodies that Dickinson nails. His vocals in “The Red and the Black” are a highlight, but I was actually really shocked to hear that the Smith/Dickinson pairings lack the punch of earlier records.

The most difficult part of The Book of Souls is that there are moments of sheer ecstasy that show off what the band has always done well—and what they have done well in their reunion period. From these 93 minutes, an excellent 75 minute record exists.1 From about 6 minutes on “Book of Souls” is anthemic and beautiful, with guitar harmonies and a driving feel that set my heart ablaze. The section that features the title lyrics to “The Red and the Black” (“The red and the black / People don’t want the truth”) is transcendent, with Bruce’s voice sounding as vital as ever; and this gives way to an excellent melodic section and memorable solos. The chorus for “Shadows of the Valley” and the proggy solo on the back end are among my favorite moments on the record, I especially love Janick’s noodly interludes and the way the three guitars actually get used here. The outro of “Empire of the Clouds” is gorgeous and my heart swells when I listen to it. The guitar work throughout the album is great across the board, with all three guitarists knocking out great solos and memorable melodies. All of this is audible on every song on the album, there are moments which can be pulled out and you can put your finger on where you say: “There! That’s it, right there!”

Iron Maiden 2015-3

What this does for the listener, then, is turn The Book of Souls into an album that is better listened to as background music. The moments of brilliance get you to peak up, rock out, and think “Aw yeah, they still got it.” But when forced to listen to the record in headphones in my Angry Metal Cubicle so as to not break the NDA for the promotional copy of the album, I was focused on the music with hawk-like attention. In these deep listens the unruly weight of the album became clear; minutes stretched by of riffs repeating or reappearing without filling a function. Even on the 18 minute epic, “The Empire of the Clouds,” which is an all around brilliant track, there are swaths of composition that lumber out of the speakers directionless, only to be forgotten, never having moved the grand narrative of the song forward. With these different moments distilled, getting at the very best moments, The Book of Souls would have soared through the beautiful blue skies of greatness. Instead, like an overloaded, structurally unsound airship, The Book of Souls set sail as is.

The Book of Souls is disappointing, yes, but more so it’s frustrating. While I agree with the raves that the band sounds great and I find myself loving moments, nodding my head or having melodies stuck in my head, I disagree with the idea that this is a good album. I can listen to it straight through to “Tears of a Clown,” at which point I started to skip to “Empire of the Clouds” after my dozenth listen or so. No, The Book of Souls is a spotty record with brilliant moments. But as much as it pains me,2 great ideas—unformed and unedited—do not a brilliant record make. Instead, the record feels front-heavy—the old “weak b-side” problem of the ’80s rearing its head in the most surreal of ways. But who knows, It’s possible that The Book of Souls develops with a longer listening period than the 3 weeks of intense time I’ve had with it. It’s possible that, like its predecessor, I develop a strategy for listening to it and start to appreciate it more than I do today. But today? The Book of Souls offers up excellent ideas, but never molds them into something greater than its parts.


Rating: 2.5/5.0 – Great moments, not a good album
DR: 8 | Format reviewed: Stream and official CD release
Label: BMG / Parlophone
Websites: ironmaiden.com | facebook.com/ironmaiden
Released Worldwide: September 4th, 2015

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Which, btw, is a proper double LP, meaning that Maiden has been making those for a long fucking time. This is Maiden’s first triple LP, actually.
  2. And it really, really pains me. Not just because they’re my favorite band ever, but giving them this review after finally getting any modicum of access to the band has just fucking harpooned my chances of ever getting an interview, press pass, or any future access to the band. I can only imagine that I’ll never receive promo or an email answer from their promotional people ever again. I’m Blaze to them.

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  • Grumpyrocker

    I feel like we listened to completely different records.

    • Yeah, that’s pretty much how I’ve felt reading the press.

      • Eric

        Dude, I agree with you completely. It pains me to say it but I don’t get the absolute slavish adoration for this album. I’ve only listened to it twice but in the past that was all I needed for any Maiden album. It’s bloated, too long, and a lot of the melodies don’t sound right (at least to my ears). I actually liked the second side more than the first as I thought it was much more memorable.

        • Robert Turnbull

          Apart from the Man of Sorrows, I much prefer the second disc to the first. To me Empire of the Clouds, despite its length, is not bloated at all. Other songs on the album are plagued by some bloat, but overall I have really enjoyed my week with this album. Played it through more than ten times and still wanting more…

          • TheNihilist

            I think the same, I reversed the order of the songs in my fifth play and was very enjoyable

          • Eric

            Its amazing to me how a song like Empire of the Clouds doesn’t drag at all, even being 18 minutes long and yet some of the shorter stuff just seems to go on and on….

          • Feytalist

            Word. I’ve played Empire by itself over and over for a couple of times. It just doesn’t get old. I’m really surprised that such a long track can work so well. And not from Symphony X or whoever, from Maiden.

            Although come to think of it, it is a bit Symphony X-ish, isn’t it.

          • Except Michael Romeo is an excellent (and trained, if I’m not mistaken) composer.

  • Handy Donut Hole

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and my humble opinion is vastly different than your own. I loved this record.

  • At best a 2.5 for me. Too long, bloated and many songs drag badly.

    • sickbroski

      Needs more smash hits like Death or Glory, it’s all the same.

  • Oleg Ryzhikov

    So, somebody must ask, where is it’s place in top 16?

    • Hard to know. It needs time and perspective.

      • Oleg Ryzhikov

        Same for me.

        I liked tBoS, it’s not perfect or super-awesome, It’s definately not my favourite, even post-reunion favourite, but is good for me. Not in my dreams it’s anything like VXI!

        But somehow I just can’t stop listening to it… The Red and The Black stuck in my head for all day long, I can’t get enough of Speed of Light, and When the River Runs Deep keeps popin’ up in my playlist just in the right time. Is it love, or what? I don’t know, maybe time will tell :)

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Prolly this is the most complex but less Heavy record of the band. Too Proggy for my taste. Agree with the score.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I am in total agreement with this review. It always struck me as strange that Maiden would do a double album, especially when their previous albums were bloated and overlong. That tidbit about them only doing single takes tells the story really: the band did not take the time to refine the 93 minutes into what could have been 60 minutes of excellent, tightly written ass-kicking songs. Cutting all that fat – all the meandering sections and ESPECIALLY the seemingly endless chorus repetitions – would have made this a much better album.

    As it stands, it’s not really a record I WANT to listen to, especially when the album drags and I start thinking about everything I could be listening to in those 93 minutes…

  • Alexandre Barata

    My greater problem with this album (long and freaking loooooooong album neitherless) is that Dickinson’s vocals sound hellishly weak. He’s getting old it seems

    • Wilhelm

      yeah, that bastard, how dare he!

  • george

    fear of the dark,
    i had a constant fear
    that you would bash this album
    and i shed a tear…
    you have balls AMG, i’ll give you that, but 2.5 is too low for me

    • It’s not about having balls, it’s about being honest. I’m not trying to bash this album, I love moments of it. I just think it’s not a great album and there ain’t shit I can do about it.

      I hardly need to give me credentials as a Maiden fan (and defender of Maiden’s later career), so hopefully everyone knows that this is simply it for me.

      • george

        lighten up AMG, “bash” was poetic justice ;-), also when someone gives you balls, take them, an old man said

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Believe it or not, it takes balls to be honest. And to be honest, I find this album better than 2.5

        • Well, to be frank, better than 2.5 leaves quite a few options. ;)

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Why would yo want to be Frank? Who’s Frank? Does Frank like Iron Maiden?
            You´re right, better than 2.5 leaves a few options.. I would give it 3.5 (very Good). That´s today´s rating. Might improve or degrade after a few days, months, years.

          • That’s ratings. Steel Druhm talked me off the ledge of not even having a rating and just letting my review speak for itself.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            It helps that you always hace the rating system published on the right hand sidebar. That’s when I realized the 2.5 meant “OK – Nothing Special” and it hurt my eyes to see a Maiden album qualified as “Nothing Special”.

          • Remember, though: I’m rating the album not the details. That’s why I feel like the rating is misleading. I love moments, I think there are great things. I think this record as a whole is better than TFF; but I think it’s OK or even disappointing as a whole.

  • KingKuranes

    Once I heard the running time of this album I pretty much expected this review, knowing AMG’s proclivity for brevity. I don’t know if a band exists that can make a 93-minute-long album awesome and engaging throughout.

    What would the scores have been if they had released these two discs separately?

    • Disc 1 upwards of 3, I’d guess. Disc 2, uh, 2 or 1.5. But that’s just off the cuff.

    • PS-RagE

      90 min epic: Ayreon’s “Theory of Everything”

  • Jukka Alanen

    I would recommend the vinyl version to anyone who hasn’t already purchased it in other formats. A lot more dynamics than the CD.

    Anyways, a solid review. I’ve done only two listens and I have to say that the sound is maybe best from Maiden since the 80’s. At the moment this is competing for a spot behind the albums from their glory days but we’ll see what happens after multiple listens.

    Oh yeah and humble thanks for the runthrough of all Maiden albums. It really brought some new insight to all the albums that I love. I even spinned The X Factor for the first time in many years because of you. :)

  • Aggrael Obadiah Dunn

    Shadows of the Valley is so similar to Out of the Silent Planet in the intro. The Red and the Black like a slowed version of the Trooper in the verses. They have a song named The Man of Sorrows, like the Man of Sorrows from AoB. Even my favorite track If eternity should fail is a copy of Ghost of the Navigator with a Toltec 7 Arrival ending. I agree with what you say. They didn’t work on the songs to evolve them. Plus I was never fond of that live feeling approach. Oh well I miss Martin Birch so much :(

    • KingKuranes

      Yeah they would have been better served doing a cover of the solo Bruce Man of Sorrows.

    • Wilhelm

      Just to clarify, Bruce did not write this album’s “Man of Sorrows” and “If Eternity” sounds nothing like Ghost of the Navigator.

    • ghost whistler

      Final Frontier has a song called The Alchemist, as does Chemical Wedding.

      • Aggrael Obadiah Dunn

        I love both songs but I think that I like more the one from CW. There is a speed up version of the Alchemist from tFF in youtube which is tremendous. Bruce sounds like the old Bruce and they fixed a bit the eq.

    • Aggrael Obadiah Dunn

      @ghostwhistler:disqus @KingKuranes:disqus @disqus_vN4wmRF4Gu:disqus
      The whole point of my comment is that they don’t seem to care that much if Dickinson has used a title already or if a song matches another in some parts. I know also that he didn’t write tMoS but still. With that extensive discography repetition is unavoidable but it strikes to me in a bad way. To be also precise I was talking about the verses of iEsF and GotN. On Ghost they keep on D while having a specific progression on chords and I think on iESF verse they keep the same pattern. Anyhow while Martin Birch was responsible he kept them organised, they worked extensively on their parts and they had a tremendous sound. Now they seem to be bored and the Kevin Shirley production never impressed me. I can’t tell however if that is his fault or Iron Maiden’s persistence and will to do things now in their own way.

  • I would probably score it even lower. This is Iron Fucking Maiden FFS. Why is everyone so easily impressed when we all know damned well they are capable of so much more?

  • Rob Liz

    Wholeheartedly agree with this review. If Eternity Should Fail grabs me but starts to lose me with the repetitive chorus. Speed of Light is easily my least favorite song on the album. From there I absolutely did let the album become background music except for certain parts. Maiden since 2000 has consistently been a hit or miss with me on each record and I was hoping to like this one more than I did based on that pattern. I did like it more than Final Frontier but I doubt it will get many plays in the future.

    • Eric

      Same here. The chorus for Eternity pretty much blows. It was a good song right up to the chorus. Speed of Light is just awful, right up there with El Dorado as far as sucking.

  • Juular

    The story of the R101 is also intriguingly explored in the Eighth Doctor Audio Drama, Storm Warning. Doctor Who can be pretty fun sometimes. All I’m saying.

  • Wilhelm

    I have to disagree, although it is a long album, I think the music doesn’t suffer for it. The only problem I have is the somewhat murky sound. I think a better production could have been achieved while still maintaining that live feel. At any rate this is a zillion times better than their last contrived borefest.

    • TheNihilist

      Better than the X factor, at least. The worst Dickinson is better than the best Bayley.

      • TheNihilist

        And TFF is a good album, but with the most despicable song of the Maiden history.

        • Michael Staugaitis

          Which song is despicable?

          • TheNihilist

            El Dorado…

          • ghost whistler

            You are playing with madness! El Dorado is far from a bad song.

            When the Wild Blind Blows is by far the worst. 11 minutes of misery.

          • TheNihilist

            Ha ha, I love When the Wild Wind! Diametrically opposing tastes.

          • ghost whistler

            I like the more progressive aspect of the band, but that one track…notsomuch :D

          • TenpointsOrBetter

            Before I comment on this statement let me just say that as a “fanboy” that bought his first Maiden album in 1983 (at Uncle Bills for 99 cents!) I feel entitled to offer my sage opinion on Maidenology. I also want to thank AMG for his incredible analysis and rankings of the studio albums. Thats saying something considering he put Killers behind a Blaze album. I have a hard time even mentioning those albums he sang on…. Such dark times they were for most of us.

            Anyway, I call Bullshit – You need to listen to that song about a hundred times (give or take a dozen). No shit, again thanks to AMG I have been listening to all of the albums over the last couple weeks. I decided to concentrate on all of the tunes that I used to skip back in the day. Where the Wind Blows happens to be the most recent..

            I will conceed that the words are cringe worthy at times, but frankly we all know that Steve has a knack for either being a poet or a hack.
            In fact, this tune offers up perfect evidence of this. The words between 1:04 and 1:20 are just hideous. But if you hang in until around 2:20 the soung picks up with a Mother Russia cadence (lyrics become secondary at this point) and then the song transforms at 3:39 into a Gem of a song. The bridge here is beautiful ending with “All the lifetime spent together… ” and then an awesome guitar solo(Smith?) rips as the bridge ends!! Then we get a Gers type guitar melody with Murray and Smith soloing freestyle over it culminating with another brilliant section at 6:42 Ish.. And then more jamming to finish it. Yes, the bookends are a bit awkward but I gotta say I am can hang with this tine now!

            Thanks AMG!

          • TheChronosus

            Thanks, TenpointsOrBetter, lyrics aside (not that I dislike them), I love WtWWB more than anything else on this side of the 90s. It manages to be both epic and intimate, it moves throughout different rythms, different emotions… You can feel panic,dispair and anger without even listening to lyrics. it’s trully beautiful. And riffing on this one is so raw and marvelous…

          • Dagoth_RAC

            Not my favorite Maiden “epic”, but I really enjoy WtWWB. There is something childlike about it, almost a lullaby at times. But it fits with the naivety of the characters. And it has some moments that give me chills because the guitar harmonies are so soaring and beautiful. Like Book of Souls, even if it is not consistently brilliant, I’ll come back to it often because the highlights are better than any other band can pull off.

          • Michael Staugaitis

            Agreed

          • wtf??? When the Wild Wind Blows is one of the best “long songs” that Maiden have ever recorded.

          • Michael Staugaitis

            I love El Dorado. The alchemist and where the wild wind blows are the turds on that album that should have been left on the cutting room floor.

          • Slayde Said

            Well, doesn’t that just go to show that music taste and preferences are subjective? What you think is a waste of space, is another person’s favourite and vica versa. For the record, I personally believe that WtWWB is the best song on the FF album. So there…

      • Gato0

        one track: “sign of the cross”… it’s better to many songs.

        why people hate x-factor…??

  • Bradley Roberts

    Completely agree, it’s like the band made it into two CDs to make it even clearer that their b-sides are significantly worse than the a-sides. They could have simply stuck ‘Empire of the Clouds’ on the first CD and got rid of the rest of the second and it would have been far better. I feel for me I’ll get much more enjoyment by listening to the two CDs completely seperately, with the first getting more listens.

    • Robert Turnbull

      For me it’s the complete opposite. I’ve listened to the album through many times this week and look forward to the back half more!

    • markus o

      what’s with all this hate for the second CD? ok, “man of sorrows” is unlistenable, but “death or glory”, “shadows of the valley” and “tears of a clown” are an absolute blast. sometimes i wish “empire of the clouds” was shorter, but it’s a great epic track. you can’t dismiss a whole album half because of one song!

  • Jeff Kent

    A low rating, but a spot-on review. I think we expect greatness from Maiden and anything less is disappointing. But when the first song on the album closes out with eight chosuses, something is immediately amiss. The goosebump moments are there, but buried in overlong songs. I too felt like there were rhythmic issues and ‘warts,’ but I kinda appreciate that. I also like the numerous solos though I feel like they’re a bit buried in the mix. I am still not enthralled with ‘Empire of the Clouds,’ I’d even go so far as to call it Bruce’s ‘Nostradamus.’ And for the love of Steve, why can’t someone point out when they rip-off their own riffs? Losfer Words and Wasted Years are both here, pretty much note for note and there are other songs that pop up in the shadows…do they not hear it?

    • RDGEEK

      Losfer Words, yes, that’s it! Couldn’t quite put my finger on it this morning as I was driving to work. Knew it was from Powerslave though…

    • ghost whistler

      Losfer Words and Wasted Years? I don’t hear it.

      I do hear Out of the Silent Planet.

      Maiden have been copying themselves for years. Arry does the Em – C – D forever. Or some variant. I don’t really see this as too much of an issue.

    • Michael Staugaitis

      Really. Shadows of the valley is just effin ridiculous with this. I almost started signing the lyrics to “fallen angel” at one point. I thought I was listening to brave new world.

    • doom-erik

      If they play Book of Souls (the song) live, they should incorporate Losfer Words in its entirety instead of just a few bars. That would be cool :)

    • doom-erik

      Forgot which song it is, but there is some Moonchild in the beginning of one of the tracks as well.

  • Eric Freely

    It’s interesting to see peoples opinions vary as they do for this record. All I had been seeing is nothing but absolute love, and while I’ve been enjoying it, I can’t help but feel there are things wrong with Book of Souls. I’m nowhere NEAR as critical as AMG – Though I can agree on quite a many things.

    Though 2.5 was a surprise. Despite this being as long as a bloody movie, and perhaps 2 – 3 songs bloated, I see this as more of being a 3 or 3.5 IMO. It grew on me after each listen, but I was also doing things as I had it playing, rather then completely focused on it.

    Good read, though.

  • Chris Martin

    To me its the best album since the 80’s but some songs on this cd have parts that shouldnt be there.
    Empire of the clouds has an instrumental part where i was expecting it to go as it would of gone with the flow, instead it takes a flow that just doesnt fit and seems odd.
    Its a good album, i love The Great Unknown but again some parts dont flow. All in all it should of been cut back down but hey its a new Maiden album and will bring with it a tour…now, if they would only change the live set a fair bit and include Alexander the Great, Infinite Dreams and The Lonleyness of the Long Distance Runner id be a happy chap

  • Excentric_1307

    AMG, you’ve got some Angry Metal Balls™ for being completely honest, and trying to cut through the fanboy bias that can cloud a score for an album like this. Bravo.

    • Feytalist

      Even though I agree, I have to deplore the fact that a reviewer needs “balls” to post their honest, truly critical opinion.

      This review is not a butthurt rant, and it’s not a meaningless fanboyish gushing. It’s a deep, perceptive, brutally honest and well-reasoned piece from one of the biggest Maiden fans I have had the pleasure to read of. Why is this such a rare occurrence?

      So, thanks and keep it up, AMG (and the rest of the staff). You make reviews worth reading.

      • “Why is this such a rare occurrence?”

        See: footnote 2.

  • jetrica

    Nice review, but this is the first Maiden record I really enjoyed after seventh son (with brave new world and the x factor as an exception)

    • MelbCro

      I see. So when you said first, what you actually meant was third.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Thanks to AMG’s guidance, I’ve listened to both A Matter of Life and Death and the X Factor in the last few days for the first time (oh well, better late than never, eh?). I don’t mind length if it’s accompanied by quality, as it is in these two albums. I’m stoked to hear this new one to compare.

    I really like both above-mentioned albums, but XF might be my “record of the year” in terms of personal musical discovery rather than release date. The record is a journey, and I found the songs very involving and passionate. I didn’t find it slow or meandering, and I really like Blaze’s vocal work. He’s no Quorthon, but, like the latter, the intensity and conviction he brings to the songs more than make up for a less-than-perfect set of pipes.

    • I could hug you.

    • I’ve said this for years. The X Factor is an absolute GREAT album that I enjoyed ever since it was first release. Other than A Matter of Life and Death, its my favorite “post 80s” Maiden album.

      • Kryopsis

        You are one of my favourite commentators on this site and I will be forever grateful to you writing about that Angra album. As such, I am currently going through a mild cognitive dissonance.

      • Gato0

        How i can say: isn’t a “one play” album… like the wine, you have to taste many times for discover the beauty

    • Gato0

      Dude, the X-factor is the most underrated maiden’s album, my favourite album by the way. I love “Edge of darkness” and “2 AM”, all the album had a very dark sadness print mostly by harris (married break up, dickinson left the group, etc)

      “Sign of the cross” is a jewel and Blaze tone fix PERFECTLY on this album, a great interpretation and obviously he had the mission to fill bruce hole (very hard for any singer).

      XI have very good tracks like the clansman and personally i like “When two worlds coolide” and “lighting strike twice”.

      Regards from chile

      • Monsterth Goatom

        I hear you, man. It’s a classic of metal. Hope you guys are managing OK after the quake. Regards from Canada.

  • Rich

    2.5…totally agree. Its got great moments but its not cohesive enough to be considered a good album. Great review!

  • savafreak

    You broke my heart Angry, You broke my heart

  • RuySan

    While I agree with some points of your review,I couldn’t give it less than 3.5, because even more than the songs, what i really live about maiden is the Sound. There’s something really pleasant, in the most pure sense of the word, that no other band achieves.

  • One thing I will say is there is definitely a problem with the mix on a few tracks. I think this record sounds DAMN good for what it is but there is a total lack of cohesiveness with respect to its production, which may well be due to the “live” approach they took. For example, the track”When the River Runs Deep” sounds *vastly* different compared to “The Book of Souls” that follows it. It is very obvious (at least to me).

    • And I feel like that’s true of Bruce. In some places he sounds amazing and in some places he doesn’t. It’s a strange record.

      • I suspect over time you will appreciate more for what it is. I will say this: I think because you’re a self-professed IM fanboy it made reviewing this record even harder.

        • Being a fanboy got me to rank an obviously subpar The Final Frontier a 4/5 before dropping it, when it likely should’ve been a 2. I think this was emotionally difficult because I honestly hated this record at first and understood nothing of what I was reading in the press. It was this horrible dissonance.

  • Joosche

    One song that exceeds 6-7 minutes is acceptable. It’ll be the track that I will stop my doings to pay attention. But it became ridiculous. I can’t stop my day to listen this thing that they released.

  • Martijn Brugman

    When playing Speed of Light, did anyone else experience this strange feeling like it was 1987 and Slash just walked onto the stage?

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Regarding footnote 2, I’m not so sure the band would cut all ties with you. Let’s assume the band reads your recent Worst to Best posts (I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve generated quite a lot of discussion in the metalverse and caught their ear). I’m sure they’d realize that the effort and thought that went into those rankings are the work of a devoted fan with a deep personal connection to their work.

    Iron Maiden, of all bands, would strike me as containing members who value honesty and balls. They’ve remained true to the Heavy Metal sound all these years; you’ve remained true to your opinions. Plus, your pain in giving this just an OK score is evident.

    • It’s their PR guys, not the band, who decide who gets in. I suspect the guys from Maiden will never lay eyes on my blog.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        I guess I’m optimistic…. Or maybe just naive. : )

  • beurbs

    I’ve seen a lot of reviews knocking the longer tracks for seeming bloated, and I get it intellectually but when I’m jamming them during my commute they don’t get tiring. You mentioned you don’t notice the flaws as much when you’re listening to this as background music… if that is a huge factor in your opinion of the album then readers should keep that in mind when determining the album’s worth for themselves. I rarely get the chance to concentrate on music while doing nothing else, and this album has been really good so far as an accompaniment to other activities.

    • I’m surprised. All the reviews I’ve seen have been blowing sunshine up the band’s ass. I guess The Quietus had a review that said something to the extent of “Well, it ain’t worse than their other modern material,” which is a backhanded compliment if ever there was one.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    It took me months to get used to albums like The X-Factor and A Matter of Life and Death. I’m not going to give any premature opinions on the album yet – except that ‘If Eternity Should Fail’ is a bloody great song. I’ve listened to it twice and its been stuck in my head for days.

    Anyway, great review (as usual).

    • Even as I was posting this I can feel it getting better. It bothers me that I shouldn’t be able to love an album when giving it my full attention. Walking to work? Fine. Kicking back to just enjoy the sounds? Not so much.

      • PS-RagE

        I’m streaming it via BT to my helmet while riding and have been rocking just fine. Iron Maiden and enduro are a perfect match! Not sure I’ve I’ve ever listened to IM as “headphone music”?

        • But I’ve never found their music to be boring when listening to it actively. This is the first time where I was literally frustrated with the compositions when listening. Like “fuck me, will this riff end?”

          • PS-RagE

            Sounds like you need more dirt/mud/adrenaline! ;)

          • I, good sir, am a scholar and a gentleman.

      • Refined-Iron Cranium

        Honestly, to me that signals some bad songwriting on their part. The middle section in ‘The Red and the Black’ is dangerously long – honestly, I’d take the 3 minute ‘board creaking’ section in Rime of the Ancient Mariner any day. I should not feel like I’d rather switch to the latest Cattle Decapitation or Black Dahlia Murder when I’m listening to a Maiden album.
        I’m giving it some time to grow on me. It still has many shining moments – something Maiden has always been able to do – but you covered the bad parts of this album pretty succinctly. So far, it’s an OK album with some great songs. I’ll leave it at that.

  • AndySynn

    Hey guys, I was just out getting snacks. What did I miss…?

    …oh.

  • Minty_Fishbowl

    Another great and accurate review, AMG.

    I fell into a bit of a honeymoon phase with this album. On earlier listens, I felt like praising tracks The Red and the Black and When the River Runs Deep like epochal masterpieces in the band’s discography…until I realize I’m only really loving the first 4 minutes or so. The album feels like it suffers from what The Final Frontier did: burying the strokes of genius under unnecessary layers of “grandeur”.

    However, I’m noticing more moments of greatness in TBoS than I did TFF. Empire of the Clouds is fascinating and If Eternity Should Fail is one of the best openers from the band yet. At the end of the day, a mediocre Maiden album is still a great collection of music, and I’ll definitely be giving it countless more listens.

    • Yeah, it makes me wanna re-edit the album. I’m seriously consider trying, just to see how it sounds.

  • Mike

    I agree with your assessment AMG and I’m glad that you had the will to write it. I too become bored after ‘The Book of Souls’ track. I also noticed the mistakes/miscues, the redundancy, the musical wandering, and Bruce struggling. Your score is fair and definitely deserving. Thanks for always being honest.

    • ghost whistler

      What mistakes and miscues?

      • Mike

        AMG mentioned them in the review. They’re real and you can hear them. I’m a musician and I noticed them upon the first listen.

        • TenpointsOrBetter

          Really… I play guitar, and while I am far from a professional I cant hear the picking mistakes. Maybe its the shitty streaming quality I have been suffering through (my Deluxe Cd is on backorder at Amazon..) prohibitting me hearing the details. Can you please reference a track where it is clear that a mistake was made? I dont say this in jest, I really want to hear this. Thanks in advance!

          • I’ll go back and check my notes; I have specifically written it down at a few places that you can literally hear miscues.

          • ghost whistler

            I think we need more evidence!

            I don’t recall hearing anything like that personally.

          • Jacob Campbell

            Two months seems like long enough for you to check your notes. I’m SO surprised.

      • Jeff Kent

        I noticed them right away also, most are rhythmic in nature, the band coming in too early after a chorus…things like that. There are also a few parts in Empire that sound haphazardly added and unnecessary. After going through the catalog in recent weeks I will say that you could make a damn good album with all the best post reunion tracks. Possibly even a 93 minute double album.

        • ghost whistler

          i’m going to need more evidence.

    • Sam Malone

      Hey Mike.

      I too would love to know exactly where the mistakes are? Please let us know what tracks and where?

      With all do respect. I’m a guitar player myself. I haven’t found them?

      Good review. I totally disagree. It won’t touch Maiden’s first few albums. The album is a grower. I love it!

  • You wot m8?

    I’ve never been a huge Maiden fan, but I must admit that I jumped the hype train for this album, and rode it hard all the way. Shame. Well, I guess it’s a not a huge surprise given the Law of Diminishing Recordings…
    I wonder what the fanboys will latch onto next?

  • I find it interesting that “Speed of Light” was selected as the first single on this record. I feel that its one of the weakest tracks on the album.

    • Minty_Fishbowl

      It’s the single because it’s by far the most radio friendly and commercially accessible track on the album. It’s 5 minutes long, catchy, and fast. It’s the same reason El Dorado was the single for TFF.

    • DId you see my footnote about Iron Maiden singles in the 6-4 post?

      • Kronos

        I’ve noticed that singles are almost never the best songs on an album.

  • ghost whistler

    The only real criticisms are that Empire of Clouds is too long and the piano shouldn’t persist throughout, and The Red and the Black is too long for what it is. I like the track, but it is ultimately just a couple of riffs with nothing much else played a lot.

    If Eternity Should Fail and the title track are awesome.

  • Danny Becker

    I agree completely, Angrymetalguy. Where would you place this in the discography? I would actually put this dead last, behind either virtual XI or No Prayer. I am trying my best to understand this album, but something is definitely out of place and it pains me. This might be the first iron maiden album, I had to actually turn off and take a break as an intermission. The point of an iron maiden album is to keep me on my feet; to keep my wanting more. I thought it was a chore to listen to this album. I was waiting for the end after the third track, but then to my utter chagrin, a double disc!

    • TenpointsOrBetter

      Oh come on…. Your being a damned drama queen. Yes, the songs are too long, the lyrics are hit and miss childish, choruses are repeated WAY too often, and compositionally the songs can meander. AND the muddy production quality pisses me off to no end! BNW was decent in that regard, but its been down hill since. I have not listsned to BoS on CD yet so hopefully they improved on it, but I am not holding my breath.
      That being said, what did you expect? They havent changed shit since the year 2000 when Bruce and Adrian came back into the fold. Each and every album has been hit and miss ever since. However, EACH one had several classic tunes as well. The same CANNOT be said between NPFTD, FoTD and the Blaze crap. NPftD and FotD had a couple tunes that were very good. The other two with BB were just plain aweful, the production was shit, the mix the same and other than a couple songs, terrible writing. I say the this in comparison to Maiden’s discography only. I mean hell, even VXI is better than anything Metallipuke have released in 30 years..
      But to put BoS at the bottom of the pile? Really? Empire of the Clouds, Book of Souls, and The Red and the Black by themselves Are better than anything from the BB albums! Better than anything off NPftD as well.. Even Mother Russia. Lastly, not sure how many listens you gave it but ITS A GROWER NOT A SHOWER.

      • sickbroski

        So basically you agree that it’s dank and boring. I even think the best stuff on Final Frontier is better than this.

  • Chris Timbó

    Well, when I heard on spotify at work, I felt the same way as I felt since Bruce came back. Songs are good, some great, but most of them are too long and need trimming. The choruses are repeated endlessly, to the point of exaustion on some songs. There are glimpses at greatness, but it ends at that. Glimpses. A reminder of what they were.
    But I guess that at that point in their career, they won’t change or go back to old ways and producers won’t challenge them to write more concise songs.
    Like an old grampa/granma: No matter how you much you want it, and tell them it’s for their on good, they won’t listen to you. And that’s ok. You love them just the same… :-)

  • Elton Chagas

    I think its not fair to compare the vocals of a man who is almost 60 years old with the voice he had when he was like, 30 or 40 years old.

    This is a very good album of a band that has been playing for 40 fucking years! How can it be frustrating?!?

  • Hulksteraus

    I would give the album 3.5. I admit I can’t listen to it in one sitting, and I knew that before even getting the album. I can listen to both “sides” in in one listen though. A 50 minute and a 45 minute album that are far more easily digestible.

    I do agree that there is repetition, but there are some great highs. Empire of the clouds has some of the best performances that Bruce has ever laid down, in particular the last movement.

    I would not put it in the last half of the Maiden canon. It needs time and a listening strategy. It works as 2 albums, particularly as the shorter cuts do balance the longer when listneed to as 2 albums.

    I could cut out speed of light however and have 2 albums of around 45 minutes each.

  • Michael Sarasa

    Listening to this I felt the Loneliness of the Long Distance Running, two CD’s, can’t see the forest for the trees, double-disc monolith. I’d like to listen to it a second time in my car, but I would run out of gas.

    • sickbroski

      Get a Hummer, they have a big tank.

  • Markus

    I’m going to post this know but I question whether this post is a little premature on my part, as I really don’t know what to do with this one. Every time I listen to it I find myself thinking “damn this is actually a really good album”. I’m totally convinced it is in fact, but when I look at how close to the end I am I find I’ve only listened to one song since last I checked, even though I’m sure I’ve been listening for about half an hour – and realising that just makes my heart sink when really it should soar. I’ve genuinely never experienced this feeling with an album before, where I’m so sure there’s a contender for album of the year lurking in there yet feels 3 times longer than it is.

    I know I don’t have an inherent problem with a 90+ minute album because Ayreon’s “The Theory of Everything” is one of my all time favourites, but where that albums feels like a perfectly paced stream of new ideas and directions, this one feels as though the run time is being artificially padded by repeated choruses, repeated riffs, and sometimes several minute long interludes which ultimately don’t go anywhere.

    It’s actually painful for me to type this… but as good as the ideas
    are it’s as though the band just didn’t know where to stop, to the point
    where the album just drags when you give it your attention. I’m totally with the sentiment of the review on this one, it’s not disappointing it’s just frustrating how easily this could have been bettered.

    3.5/5

    I think it really is a testament to just how good the band are (with maybe just a hint of fanboyism on my part; NotB was the first album I ever bought after all) that I can type my own little review which is basically just me moaning about the album, yet still not feel even slightly indulgent giving it a 3.5

    • Markus

      The 5 stages of grief are supposed to be denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I think the review above was most certainly written in the denial stage. Now 4 days is an eternity for reviews ones would imagine and no one probably read my comment anyway, but I can’t live with myself knowing that the above exists.

      I think now I’m at acceptance, or maybe depression. Who knows. The score of 2.5 is perfect. If I were being pedantic I’d go for 2.75, or a 2.25 depending on how I look at it (review scores are fun aren’t they) but since that’s definitely not allowed I’ll just split the difference. Regardless of how good certain parts of the album are, I can only sit through one disc at a time. It has good parts, no doubt, but it’s too much of a slog. The good moments of the album don’t offer me enough of a reason to want to carry on through the bits which are mercilessly drawn out. I don’t think being too long makes it a bad album, it just holds it back from being a good one, so using the AMG review score scale t’s a 2.5 – Average.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Thank GOD, someone who has the balls to talk against Maiden. Whom i liked in the 80’s mainly because of Nickos drumming.The main reason I play now.This album is JUST OK..they sound old, tired and just like the well has run dry for creativity. Even though Bruces voice still sounds in top form..He is/was better off in his solo career. And I wish he would go back to that. This is all for good public relations and to give Maiden that celebrity status they once had. I mean Lady Gaga said she got up at like 5. A.M to go get the album? Seriously? Someone was really paid off on a lot of reviews, and press for this release. Because it IS nothing special.

    • GrandmasterB

      Right on! I too wish that Bruce would once again focus on his solo career. Supposedly Roy Z wrote the music for the next album years ago and Bruce just has to get around to doing his part.

  • Pimpolho

    Yeah, well, that’s just like, your opinion, man. (Sorry)

  • I’ve basically put this on non-stop replay on my mp3 player. It’s that good. I’ve not done that since Brave New World.

    This isn’t fanboyism…. this is a great album. I am a fan, but not a super-fan. Bruce’s pipes are still as loud as ever, and the music, while not blast-beat fast, is great and utterly amazing.

    I listen to this record and can’t believe I get to the end so fast. It’s a rare thing that an album from an established band does that… they’ve had ups and downs before, but this is definitely one of their higher ‘ups’.

    • For a 93 minute record, it moves quickly–so long as I’m not actively listening. As soon as I sit down and try to follow each twist and turn, I feel like it’s a lumbering giant.

      • It sometimes lumbers, but not in the strictest of “this song is too long” sort of vibe. I was listening the X-Factor again (after a LONG hiatus) and noticed I felt that way about a few of the songs on there, but for some reason I just dig this record a whole bunch.

        I’m a fan of Iron Maiden to be sure, and if I had one criticism of this record it’s that there aren’t any driving anthems on it (besides Speed of Light, which is the weakest song on the album.)

        I am an unabashed doom metal fan who can listen to 10 minute epics that have perhaps 5 notes in them (spread over that 10 minutes), so I might be a little bit used to the lumbering giant feeling so much that I don’t notice it.

        *edit* to Clarify I am a fan of X-Factor, just not the vocals (because I love Bruce Dickinson’s singing.) The first track of X-Factor is a mind-blowingly great song to boot (like this record.) Okay, I guess I am a fanboy. :)

  • Josh Lind

    Great review! I think I like the album a bit more than you do, but you diagnosed its maladies very accurately. For me, the album is better than The Final Frontier and Dance of Death, on par with Brave New World and A Matter of Life and Death. I haven’t enjoyed a new Maiden song as much as “If Eternity Should Fail” in a long time. “Tears of a Clown” has a great groove. But “The Red and the Black”? Way…too…long.

    On another note, I have been editing their albums for some time. That’s how I first came to love The X Factor. When you cut off the first 2:53 of “Sign of the Cross,” (and trim down the others) then the album becomes much more palatable; the genius comes out in starker relief. I will need to do the same with The Book of Souls when I come to know it better.

    • Do you edit out things in the middle of tracks?

      • Josh Lind

        Yes, I have edited things out of the middle. It is harder, because you have to make sure that the part before what you cut matches up with what what is after the section you cut, but it works fine when cutting for simple repetition. The problem is when a band repeats the sections of repetition, like they sing the same line 8 times, which you cut to two…and then they repeat that part several times throughout the song. Then you’re dinking around for an hour. That’s when you really wish they had done this themselves. :)

        • Josh Lind

          My edit of The Book of Souls is done. New running time is 79 minutes.

        • markus o

          the fact is, they didn’t.
          personally i’d have liked The Lord of the Rings better if Tolkien had cut 90% of the happy songs, the homoerotic undertones in the relationship between Frodo and Sam and a couple of minor things, but i could never have the arrogance to cut pages out and think that my version could be any better than the original…
          i don’t want to sound too harsh, but this kind of editing sounds a lot like those sad compilations of sex and nudity scenes taken from The Game of Thrones and similar stuff… :)

    • Worldeater

      And i thought i am the only Person that cuts / trims / edits music! I am kind of relieved, so far i only got negative responses when talking about it.

    • markus o

      just out of curiosity, did you perform the same editing of “seventh Son” as well? y’know, cutting out all intros, choirs, keyboards and atmospheric stuff, and turning it into a 15 minutes punk album… ;) i’m joking, of course, but you shoud really try to take yourself out of what you listen.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    I agree with so much on this review, and yet my ultimate feelings are much more positive. Maiden tried to make “The Greatest Iron Maiden Album Of All the Iron Maiden Albums That Have Ever Iron Maidened” but tried too hard. They overdid it. It is sprawling and meandering and unfocused on many occasions. But Maiden trying to outdo themselves, and failing, is still more interesting than just about anything else I have heard this year!

  • Logos

    So we reach the anticlimactic end of Maiden week here at the blog… :)

    I disagree with the low score the record received. But I agree with some points. The Red and the Black is a great song. That guitar work around the 10 minute mark is just beautiful. Really incredible. With some editing the song would become even better.

    As to Bruce’s voice, it’s great as usual. I have the impression, though, that in songs like Speed of Light (which is meh…) and Death or Glory (which I really like) he is singing in a higher register than usual. That’s an odd move considering that he’s not getting any younger.

    The title track is great, but the acoustic intro and outro are really unnecessary. The opening track, though, seems more balanced. It’s an awesome song with awesome bass work. It’s the best opening track since The Wicker Man.

    I enjoy the album. Will have to listen to it more times to see where it fits in the whole discography. Hope you will give it some other chances.

    • It is a bit anticlimactic, I guess. I will continue to listen to this record because I love moments. I fucking love Iron Maiden; I want to like this record. I just can’t like it as a whole. And I can’t get aboard the hype train.

      • That’s how I felt with the first Blaze record. I was (and am) a fan, and I wanted to like it, but some of it let me down badly, while some of it was uplifting and grand in a style only Iron Maiden can pull off.

        It does seem weird, though, that the tempo of X Factor (I’ll have to listen to Virtual XI again to see) and Book of Souls is about the same in terms of song pacing… maybe it’s cyclical? :)

  • Lasse Momme

    Too long, inconsistant quality, obvious lack of self editing and utterly cringeworthy lyrics at times. yeah, this is a post 1990 Iron Maiden release alright.

    how they thought they could get away with 90 minutes of material is beyond me.

  • ronin1572

    I agree with a lot of what is said in this review. I would say its more 3.0 to me. Definitely needs a bit of self editing and filler removal. I still like it more than FF.

  • Mauro Bossetti

    I guess that this website should export the magic formula of having no dicks writing comments. I mean, the reviews are poetry (although I don’t listen to 90% of the music reviewed here, as I don’t like extreme metal), but it still puzzles me that the only 1% in the world who doesn’t write comments just to rant or argue or quarrell over a fucking phone or whatever, lives here.

    Really, to read a review AND everyone’s opinion after that, where there are disagreements but NEVER rants or random shit making me dreaming to nuke people because they don’t deserve to exist, keeps my faith towards humanity alive.

    • savafreak

      Why the rants man, it’s the Brotherhood of Metal, all of us are mature adults, and each is entitled to his/her opinion, that’s the beauty of Metal: Rising Above All

    • Hammersmith

      AMG has the best comment section of any metal site I’ve come across.

      • [not a Dr] Gonzalo Salazar

        You are welcome

      • Rob Nine

        I feel myself getting dumber when I read comments to Metal Injection and Blabbermouth posts.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    I couldn-t agree more! even when your countdown on Maiden discography is far from which I would have decided. I really identify my experience with this review, “Book of Souls” has amazing moments (I just can’t stop listening to “Empire of the Clouds”, though the preface to it’s “heavy” part sounds pretty awkward) but overall it could have been stripped of several minutes, much like “Frontier” and AMoLaD.
    Though I must say, I feel honoured everytime I have the chance to listen to a new Maiden album. It somehow feels like a privilege.

  • RilesBell

    Good review. I’m glad you’re not getting caught up in all the hype like everyone else. It was such a pain in the ass getting through this album with all of the recycled riffs and lack of studio discipline. They have all the talent in the world but they just half ass it to me. Some cool moments here and there but then something comes along that makes me burst out laughing or a blatant rehashing of riffs from the 80s. I gave it a 2/5 and ranked it slightly above TFF.

  • Man, that was disappointing. “Not a good album”? Seriously? So in your #13 write-up you said, “The Final Frontier is that if the record had removed the first two songs and the last two songs, it would have been a pretty damned good record. ” From what you wrote on The Book Of Souls, that wouldn’t be so easily remedied. Do you actually prefer Virtual XI (#12), Dance Of Death (#11) and The X Factor (#4) over this? I find that hard to believe. Now that you’re done hunching in your cubicle on headphones listening intensely, you’ll have a chance to relax, play it on the loudspeakers and let it breathe. From the reactions I’m reading in forums, this album is winning over people who haven’t been Maiden fans for two decades. It’s attracting people who were never into Maiden. I can’t imagine such a huge fan like yourself not getting on board with this eventually!

    • Yes, seriously. And I don’t think The Final Frontier is good, either. If I have to preface a compliment by saying “if you remove four songs,” then that’s probably a sign that it’s weak.

      And I’d probably rate this over VXI, but I think broadly speaking some of the songs on there are tighter than these.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    My fave of the year so far is the new Riverside, closely followed by Ghost, closely followed by the new Amorphis. Even though BOS got an average review, I’m really looking forward to it. I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon, then when it came out last week, they didn’t have enough copies to fill all the pre-orders, now I’m still waiting for them to send mine out.

  • Ralph Plug

    “What this does for the listener, then, is turn The Book of Souls into an album that is better listened to as background music.”

    This nails it for me. I love this record, and there are fantastic moments on there, but I prefer to play it (loud) whilst doing other things. Sitting on the balcony, playing a video game or doing dishes. It’s great that way, and I find myself enjoying it very much and singing along already. But sitting down and listen to it on headphones? Nah.

    • Yeah, which is why I HATED the album before I got the physical copies I could listen to while doing other things, and started to like it after. But that’s bad.

      • Ralph Plug

        I had the exact same thing, having reviewed it myself. Had I waited for my physical copy, I probably would have been less harsh. Then again, reviewing Maiden is hard, man, because you’re being torn between being a fanboy and a semi-objective reviewer.

  • hallowed

    Maybe they could release a Director’s cut of the album in a year or two.

    • But that’d just be 105 minutes!!

    • sickbroski

      With bonus tracks.

  • Well written mate. “From these 93 minutes, an excellent 75 minute record exists” <– this is the most eloquent way of rephrasing my rants about this album since it came out that I've heard :)

  • savafreak

    Here comes the pain baby, here comes the pain! : “The Book of Souls holds a score of 82/100 on the aggregate review site Metacritic, indicating “universal acclaim”.

    • This is basically how I feel about ‘universal acclaim.’

      • sickbroski

        He’s still bloody and in pain.

  • Monsterworks

    I was waiting to read this review after enjoying the Maiden retrospective over the last week or two*. For the first time in many years I actually went down to HMV last Friday and bought the CD (which was in a hardback book version) on the day of release.
    It has been a week and I have probably listened about 10 times….drawing almost exactly the same conclusions as AMG. It has moments of greatness but, as seemed blindingly obvious as soon as they announced it, 93 minutes is just too much and there is nothing to really justify it other than being able to proclaim “Hey everyone, we just made a 93 minute album!”
    Am glad AMG gave some background about the production process because I had been thinking that a few of the guitar lines and vocals were a bit ropey – like it was something thrown together on a demo to get a feel for it and they used that as the final take.
    While we mere mortals should probably keep our mouths’ shut (how dare we comment), these classic bands tend to be high on their own legend and think they know best when it comes to production, but it seems likely that the reason they made classic albums in the first place was because they had a capable producer to make the tough decisions. I am mainly thinking of Judas Priest (who are, to me, a more favoured but more inconsistent band than Maiden). On balance I think Redeemer of Souls was even more frustrating than Book of Souls because you could have just cut some songs and tightened up a few bits and pieces to make a much stronger album.
    Priest should be contractually bound to make 40 minute albums, Maiden: 50 minutes because their style lends it to a slightly longer running time.
    *While I have followed Maiden since ’88 I am, admittedly, a fair weather fan in the sense that I never even heard the Blaze era albums. I am now motivated to check these out….and also to revisit A Matter of Life and Death. The last song Maiden did which I thought was exceptional was “The Legacy”. It stands tall with any of their best material.

  • Worldeater

    With book of souls Iron Maiden became the Peter Jackson of heavy metal. Despise their undeniable capabilities they both do not know when to stop…

  • tomasjacobi

    For anybody who DO like this album and own a record player I can heartily recommend the vinyl version.
    The album has been specifically mastered for vinyl by Chris Bellman and the pressing itself is flawless (at least my EU pressing). The records are 180 gram black and furthermore the triple gatefold looks amazing and even has inner printing.
    The overall quality matches the deluxe editions released by Blood Music, which is the highest praise I can give!

  • TheChronosus

    Regarding the production, wth is that vocal patch on Empire of the Clouds around 5 minutes in (engines hum)? It sounds like a demo.

  • Rj McFly

    Hi Folks! i always read what you have to say about the new records, i was pretty excited when the book of souls came out, and in the first, magic, listen, really was a good and wonderfull ride, i confess, i dont think this album is close to be a classic maiden, but was pretty much of what i expected of them at this time, i really love the book of souls.

    When i see the 2.5 dissapoiting note … i dont expect that … but i understand that you, experts in music, see more elements in the audio work that i could, maybe is not a good album after all, maybe is my iron heart of fan, maybe …

    anyway, congratulations for your reviews, i always eyoy reading them, you do an excelent job!! Greatings from Mexico Angry Staff.
    00

    • It’s fine, though. Love it with all your heart. I’m just saying how I feel about it. If you love it, please continue loving it! I’m glad people do actually really love it, because I want to and can’t.

      • Rj McFly

        Thanks for your comment, have a Good day! I respect and apreciate your opinión. See You later blood brother.

  • Honest and true, I agree. All the songs feel like the they meander once or twice and then get back on track. I do think it is still a great listen for all those excellent Maiden Moments. Book of Souls and Empire of the Clouds are magic.

  • GooberMan

    I got the impression that this album was pressed to play at 45, but instructed everyone to play it at 33. So I cracked out a tempo increaser (30%, so not exactly the correct speedup). Much better. Turns it in to a 60 minute single album, and is far more listenable.

    • sickbroski

      Have a Merry Metal Chipmunk Christmas!

      • GooberMan

        Uh, no. You get that with a naive speed up. There are tempo increase tools that do not alter the pitch of the original recording.

  • groverXIII

    Reviews like this remind me why AMG is one of the few metal blogs I still read with a strong regularity instead of just skimming the headlines in my RSS reader and clicking on the ones that interest me. There’s honesty and integrity in a review like this that you don’t see often on other sites, and it’s what sets AMG apart.

    I, for one, am mostly in agreement with this review, mostly because I’ve only actually listened to the album once. It felt like a chore to listen to the whole thing, and I’m still finding time in my schedule for the next listen. There are some great moments, but mostly I find myself wanting to listen to one of their older albums instead.

  • Neb Bojer

    Can I assume this will not be Record o’ the Month?

  • Thank you so much for this thoughtful, honest, well-written review. I knew I could rely on you guys! I’ve been enjoying the album but have had some heavy, nagging reservations about it. It’s a very frustrating listen. A lot of editing required and ‘Tears of a Clown’ might have the worst set of lyrics they have put on an album yet. A lot of the better songs and moments just have me yearning for another Bruce Dickinson solo album.

  • Phil Daly

    Been listening to this for a while now, and whilst I love the concept of a double studio album, I do agree there is a lot of bloat. I have no real issue with the “live in the studio” feel, as I’ve tired of everything being tweaked and engineered to death, but it definitely needs trimming. The Red and the Black has some gorgeous bits, but it also goes on forever without really doing anything, and I find myself getting annoyed that it’s taking up space that could be filled by a five or six minute track. I do wonder if that suggests what we hear is everything they had available?

    This is far from a bad album, and I suspect it’s something that may well gel over extended listens (very much like the X Factor), but I may well do what a few others have suggested and engineer a more condensed version.

  • mauler77

    No matter how good the riffs, I’m struggling to handle Bruce’s high range. Some notes sound like he almost didn’t make it, I find them distracting and they’re all over the record. Perhaps the band should downtune a step or so for new material, see how that works out. Bruce might appreciate that too.

    Nonetheless I completely agree with it being best as background music as it lacks the intensity and tempo of old. It’s a bit too plodding.

  • replica

    I listened to X Factor for the first time the other day. It’s actually not bad. Can hear the roots of Brave New World in it.

    • I personally love the first track (the Sign of the Cross) but could’ve shortened a bit “Man on the Edge” and a couple of others.

      I think it’d have been in their all-time top 5 if Bruce had sung on it (that’s it. It’s official. I’m a fanboy. heheh.)

    • sickbroski

      That’s when they started having a long quiet intro on every track. Arpeggiated power chords are not the most exciting thing in the world.

  • This review fucking hurts.

    • Sir Tapir The Based :]

      YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH

      • It’s a good album. It got really good reviews. Hell, even he said it himself!

        • Sir Tapir The Based :]

          Except it isn’t a good album. You’re blinded by nostalgia.

          • I love Iron Maiden. Trust me, I fucking hate Dance of Death. That’s considered a “good” album by them. The Book of Souls is fucking amazing.

        • It did get good reviews. And it’s got good moments. But I don’t think it’s a good album, per se. That’s overstating the case.

          • Hey man, it’s your opinion and I totally respect it. I say give it some time to grow, maybe you’ll like it over time. After all, I’ve seen you hate some records first listen and then like them over time. (Coal by Leprous, to be exact.)

          • Absolutely, and some of my favorite albums are the ones that were the hardest nuts to crack. I still very much love Opeth’s Ghost Reveries, which is a record I thought was not very good when I first heard it. And similarly, Viva Emptiness by Katatonia has stuck with me over the years, despite me thinking it wasn’t very good at first listen. That one took me literally years to appreciate.

            I’m not sure about this album, though. We’ll just have to see. I think the difference with this one is that I’ve listened to it really closely and discovered that it’s under close scrutiny that I don’t think it stands up. It’s not like one of those really complex records that takes time to understand and when it clicks you’re like “Wow.” But instead it’s something that works well when I’m not paying attention, but under a closer inspection seems weak.

            But y’never know. My opinion of albums often changes over years. But years are not when you get to do reviews if you want to be relevant as a review site.

          • Ghost Reveries is my personal favorite album of all time, to he honest. It clicked first listen, and oh boy…

          • Death

            Your real favourite album of all time is Hellyeah’s self-titled album.

          • You’re right. Dem riffs, tho.

  • Aside from a few cool moments here and there I have a very, very hard time enjoying this record. By now, I find Bruce’s voice to be completely unlistenable and he just flat out sucks to my ears. It’s almost embarassing how strained and unpleasant his voice sounds when he does anything else than go for a mellow style (he rarely does).
    Most don’t agree and that’s fine, but I just can’t deal with it anymore. Then there’s the clumsy songwriting and less than stellar lyrics – worst of all in Empire of the Clouds which honestly sounds very haphazardly pieced together to me. Anyone can write a long song by just piecing a bunch of unrelated musical segments togehter while letting each of them take up 3-4 minutes, doing nothing interesting in particular. The lyrics in this song are amateur – look them up and read them line by line, putting a bit of thought into it – does anyone honestly think those lines hold up to closer scrutiny.
    I’d hate to ramble on for 10x as long in order to pick things apart in more detail, but if I don’t do that, this is just going to look like a headless rant.

    Oh well, I don’t mean to step on any fans toes, but this album doesn’t do it for me. Cool parts though, like I said, so maybe they still have it in them?

    • Jeff Kent

      I’m with you on Empire.

  • Óðinn

    Thanks to Angry Metal Guy for not getting caught up in the hype about this album. I’ve read so much about how “spectacular” The Book of Souls is that did match what I heard with my ears, an average album. I love Iron Maiden as most long-time Metal fans do. But if I’m honest, the last album I found exciting was Live After Death.

    • irondave

      LAD was fantastic, saw them on that tour. I lost interest after seventh son, however I really liked moments in this new one. There are times when they are running on all cylinders and it sounds great, this is mainly a guitar album. Very impressive work by Adrian, great technique and feel, Bruce also sounds great. I have hope for the next album, and I have not thought that in decades.

      • doom-erik

        You will probably have to wait 4-5 years for the next album, unfortunately.

  • irondave

    Good review, or at least I agree with most of it. The guitar works is very good and breathtaking at some moments. Maiden has always excelled at harmonies and at times there are some great moments. Trim some of the lengthy jams and this could be a a great album.
    I’ve been a fan since Killers came out, this album was surprising and great to see where they’re at decades later. I wish this was a better sounding album, a bit rough on the ears.
    We need another album next year, so much promise.
    8/10 stars. Best since Seventh son IMHO.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    After multiple listens I have enjoyed much of this. The problem with the album is that Bruce had a few really good studio sessions, and a few awful, almost embarrassing, studio sessions.
    Is that what is referred to as vokills?

  • sickbroski

    Maybe it’s the wine, maybe it’s because I hadn’t bought a Maiden album in 9 years, but I’m really enjoying my time so far. 56 minutes to go! And then the new Scorpions album. Ah ah, what year is this?

  • SelfIndulgence

    2.5? God I love this website!
    While originally I came to this website a long time ago because everywhere else was garbage I found our tastes similar and the honesty refreshing. It has led to me some amazing musical discoveries both old and new.

    I have read a few reviews online for TBoS on websites I don’t care for just to get an opinion before I heard it myself. I found myself not agreeing with what they were praising. It just wasn’t the album everyone was saying it was (glad I skipped the vinyl this time). So like usual I waited on AMG to deliver the goods.

    While I don’t agree with everything on your beast countdown I do agree with this review. I find I am listening less and less to this new release. While not disappointing it just seems very average to me. Once again I appreciate your ear and the honesty found here. Great review.

    As for the beast countdown it was honest, informative, and you still have all your metal cred with me….well except for that nasty “pom pom panty pom” video you posted once. What they hell was that? My brain still hasn’t recovered.
    Stay Angry.

  • Col_Dax

    My intellect agrees with this review, while my heart fully disagrees.
    My clock says, too, 93 minutes, while my ears wanna hear 186 minutes of this stuff. My eyes tend to close after the umptieth time a good idea, lick or melody line is repated once too often, but my soul can’t break away from how Maiden are playing their ongoing and evolving (even if you don’t agree with it) vision of how metal should sound.
    Well, I think I’m a fanboy – but we all need the warm and fuzzy feeling of familiarness from time to time, before objectivity captures our musical brains once more…

    • DaveSt

      This is pretty much exactly how I feel. I think AMG’s review is spot on, yet I still find myself really, really liking this album at the same time. It took me a few times through both discs to sort of “get it” unlike most Maiden albums. Maybe it’s just that a bad Maiden album still sounds good to someone that grew up listening to them.

  • Stormwatch

    Two CDs of music, 50 and 43 minutes respectively

    93 minutes, then. Since a CD allows for up to 80 minutes of audio, I can’t help but feel that some some subpar tracks were added (or allowed to remain) solely to make this a (more expensive) double album.

    Not that the album’s best parts are particularly great anyway… also, Bruce’s voice is often painful. It’s like he’s trying to prove that he can still do those shrieks, and suddenly that’s all he does!

  • Josh Lind

    I finished my editing of The Book of Souls. After spending this much time with the album, I have come to really love it. Here are the running lengths I came up with:
    If Eternity Should Fail (6:50)
    Speed of Light (5:02)
    The Great Unknown (4:54)
    The Red and the Black (9:35)
    When the River Runs Deep (5:07)
    The Book of Souls (9:03)
    Death or Glory (4:19)
    Shadows of the Valley (5:09)
    Tears of a Clown (4:59)
    The Man of Sorrows (6:28)
    Empire of the Clouds (16:58)
    I even turned one song I didn’t like (Death or Glory) into one that I now like…just by taking out half of every chorus! :)

    • I <3 remix culture.

    • JPOliveira91

      I don’t have the knowledge to editing, but I’ve made my own tracklist for The Book Of Souls, and used your editing for track lenghts.

      I’ve removed Speed of Light (IMO Death or Glory makes a better single), The Red And The Black (Too long and forgettable) , When The River Runs Deeps (Nice song, cutted for better track lenght) and The Man Of Sorrows (Just bad).

      The only order change was Death Or Glory replacing Speed Of Light, being the single for TBoS.

      PS1: Sorry for any grammar error.

      • Josh Lind

        The easiest way to “edit” an album is just to have iTunes start a song later than it would normally start and/or end a song before it would normally end. This works really well for a long of more recent Iron Maiden songs that have long intros that don’t add anything. (Some intros are crucial to setting the emotional tone of the song, but some are just tacked on…and there are those on The X Factor that are really just senseless noodling). If Eternity Should Fail has too long of an intro.

        The ability to end a song before it would normally end is useful for some of those Iron Maiden songs that tack the intro into the ending. Somewhere along the line, Maiden decided that if it is good enough for an intro, it must be good enough for an outro. No thanks (in many cases).

        With The Book of Souls, I was a bit more “activist.” I didn’t think that Death or Glory needed to be repeated four times in each chorus, so I cut out two in each chorus (using some software). That makes me appreciate the pre-chorus so much more; it is really good! Shadows of the Valley has a melodic guitar run that repeats four times each time it appears in the song (it’s the run that ends the song). I trimmed that to two apiece. The song that needed the most cutting in my opinion was The Red and the Black. I cut down each of the oh-oh-oh parts; the intro wasn’t necessary; there was some aimless guitar soloing two-thirds of the way through the song. I got it down to about four minutes shorter than the recorded version.

        I listen to this album all the time now. :)

  • madhare

    I haven’t listened to re-union Maiden much at all, it doesn’t seem to agree with me. But because of your excellent review on the complete works of Maiden, I decided to give this one a go.

    But no.. The whole thing sounds tired and lackluster. Bruce’s shrieking sounds shrill. He sounds much better when he stays lower but he seems to insist on those shrieking high notes.

    As you said, there are points when the old boys get it going. It’s like the hospice nurse arrived to administer adrenaline injections, nitro, or something. But these points are not enough. Not enough to create good songs.

    Like I can’t bring myself to see “Red and Black” as a highlight. Yeah, there are some nice bits towards the instrumental end, but otherwise it lags and the rhyming lyrics are just childish.

    And Empire of the Clouds… The first 5 minutes with its didactic ta-ta-ta-ta-on-the-note-lyrics sound like Spinal Tap to me. And no, I’m not joking. It literally sounds like Spinal Tap. Except that Spinal Tap actually has energy and can be fun. With Empire… only from about 8:30 it turns into a Maiden song. But it’s still a bit tired and the proggy parts & half-assed orchestration seem to mostly underline this instead of contributing. Especially the piano bits around 14:30 just cut the song and turn it into an old music hall piece. (Yeah, Bruce could probably claim that no, that’s just accurate reference to the time period…) Simply having a loooong song with a bit of nice piano doesn’t make it “epic”. I’ll take Rime of the Mariner with its energy and groove any day over this.

    The overall feeling is that this is Maiden playing “Maiden by the numbers”. But the old gents have to take it slow so that they won’t miss any notes. (Perhaps the whole “live-recording” gimmick is just to mask this?)

    On top of things, the whole damn thing goes on and on an ooooo-ooon.

    It’s mostly just cringeworthy. I find myself skipping songs half-way. I wouldn’t rate this even at 2.5. It has points of 2.5, and the rest is closer to 2 or 1.5. I just can’t understand what all the other critics see in this.

    The weird thing is, it’s totally okay for this to be a shitty record. It doesn’t matter. Maiden has so much good stuff in their catalogue already. Releasing one more mediocre/bad record won’t do them any harm. It doesn’t need defending. But for the fans, I’d say that it’s better to just go back to the good stuff instead of wasting time with this.

  • Architrion

    First time here. I hope not to collect too many Angry Metal Guys with my comments.

    I have to disagree at the moment. I’m liking it a lot… Lyrics have been very important for me, and finding a 18 min song without a verse played twice I think it’s much better than the last writings in Maiden albums, where you could find the same word written twice in consecutive verses, and sometimes a frustrating lack of rhyme and metric.

    One thing I’m always grateful to Maiden is that there’s always a true piece of history to discover. Like many others, I always thought that worst zeppelin accident was Hindenburg’s until Maiden brought the R101 (and R100) story to the table. They gave me a pair of days of reading about the subject, as they did with so many other stories with a real subject behind. Aside Robin Williams dedicated song, there is another one about Manfred Von Richtofen and his Fokker DR1. Much better for me that music about evil, blood, rapes and drugs.

    On the other side, as someone who likes prog music so much, the length of the songs is no problem for me if they are well composed and arranged, and there is a story to tell. Listening TBOS is like a 40 years trip of Maiden compositions and riffs. What would you expect? An experiment ala Metallicas’s St Anger? The worst Maiden is better than the best of so many many bands. I’ll stick with it.

  • Steve

    I really enjoyed this album. Some songs are too long and could do with a bit of trimming, but the repetition is really kept to a minimum compared Brave New World and AMOLAD where it peaked with repetitive one line choruses, soft intros and outros and songs following the exact same structures.

    Compared to the previous album, it sounds far more polished and far more effort was put into it. Along with DOD it’s probably the closest they’ve come since to matching their classic 80s albums. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely far better than what i was expecting

  • buttsguy

    yeah i love this album but you wrote a damn good review and brought up some great points.

  • Scott Tyson

    Finally got my copy. Haven’t given it much spin time but while listening to Empire of the Clouds, it strikes me as soon as the first guitar section comes in what I’m hearing is a nice Coheed and Cambria influence. The tone of guitar and style reminds of them. Maiden toured the states 2 years ago with them (great show BTW). So far I like the tune. I’m “get off my lawn old” and grew up on the Art Rock of the 70s (Genesis, Gentle Giant, Floyd, Yes, Weather Report, etc) so I’m either tolerant or enjoy big tunes like this.

    • Well, I love big tunes and stuff, i just think bands like Genesis and Floyd were not really writing filler. My issue is that this isn’t consistently interesting, it’s just big. When I think about a band like Rush writing a 25 minute song, I also think about how it had so much depth to it. The problem with an average Harris 13-minuter, is that it could stand to lose lots of minutes due to it not being full of different ideas.

      I had no idea that Maiden toured with Coheed, btw. That’s kind of crazy.

  • dblbass23

    I’m learning that most of the reviews on this site are just an excuse to rip into a bands new music. Unless the band is some sort of underground phenomenon that’s sold 100 copies of their new one and played to around 40 people at their last show. Are you SURE that you guys are into metal? It’s like you’re pissed off that the bands that have been around forever are still bothering to make new music. And I know what the response to this is gonna be….but at least put some flair into it. DAMN.

    • dblbass23

      In other words….I like the new Maiden. And the new Slayer. I don’t get the so called “fans” not liking the new albums.

      • Well, obviously my credibility as a fan of Iron Maiden shouldn’t be in question. You can disagree all you want, but I suggest you read this before you spend more time accusing me of being an elitist: http://www.angrymetalguy.com/angry-metal-guy-speaks-on-negativity/

        While you’re at it, go back and read my rankings of Iron Maiden albums if you think that my credentials don’t seem up to the task of reviewing the new album.

        • dblbass23

          I didn’t mean to say that you didn’t have the credentials. I’m sure you do. I just don’t get all the badmouthing of a NEW IRON MAIDEN ALBUM….when there’s PLENTY out there to badmouth. No disrespect….just a bit of “what the fuck”.

          • I’m not sure why it being a new Iron Maiden record means that it’s per definition good.

  • SkepticalJay

    Long time reader here. I mostly agree with your review, especially the line about it having about 75 minutes of great music. For that reason, I sort of see the 2.5/5 rating as slightly harsh. While I totally agree that there is like 15 minutes of pure tedium throughout The Book of Souls, it’s hard for me to not be thankful for 75 minutes worth of Maiden goodness in 2015. Would have given it at least a 3, probably a 3.5. Even if it doesn’t completely work as an album, it’s still better than most of what’s coming out these days in the power metal universe.

    Still, your review is inciteful and well-written as always.

    • I guess the problem is that 75 minutes of 93 is way too much flab. If the issue was about rating total quality material within an album, it would be different. But it’s about rating the album as a whole. Anything where nearly 20% of the material could likely be edited out is something that I have trouble rating higher than a 2.5.

      • SkepticalJay

        I hear you and that’s totally fair. And although it’s sort of pointless to counterpoint someone else’s subjective evaluation of a piece of music, whatever, I’m going to do it anyway because we’re already two dudes geeking out over a band that once started a song with the lyrics “In a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth!” There’s not much lower we can go:

        If a band released a ten song album of equal length and you thought that seven of those songs were great, but three were complete garbage, would it be normal for you to rate the album a 2.5. I mean, 2.5 screams to me “mediocre”, “not awful, but do not spend too much time with this”, “save your money”, etc. But man, if seven tenths of an album being pretty stellar is worth “mediocre” status, it actually kind of makes the difference between 3 and 5 stars kind of ambiguous, if we’re being consistent.

        It implies that like 3 stars means “this album is fucking great, there’s like a song and and a half that doesn’t work for me”. For stars can be interpreted as “This is pretty much flawless, but there was this one bridge in one song that sucked”. Five stars is “Damn, this album is the best ever conceived”.

        I recognize I’m totally oversimplifying. There is more to an album than simply the overall percentage of good to bad material. We have to consider flow, cohesiveness, and myriad other factors. Still, the relative proportions of good to bad material seems to weigh heavily and, I would argue, is the most important factor.

        Finally, I’m self aware of the fact I’m quibbling with you about a half fucking star on a rating scale that’s entirely arbitrary and not fucking important. It’s my own personal Quest for Fire, I guess because, yes, I’m a shameless fucking Maiden fanboy and that half star means something to me, dammnit!

        As an aside, you were the dude who got me into Orphaned Land’s The Never Ending Way of Orwarrior, which was, literally, the last metal album I’ve listened to that made me feel like metal is even a relevant genre anymore outside of nostalgia in terms of its ability to push boundaries. It’s literally ruined me because I haven’t been able to scratch that itch with any band since. That’s why I even give a shit about your opinion on anything.

  • atothewr

    The thought I keep having about this album is what songs are going to go on tour with them. These songs are all long, and I can’t imagine doing an 18 minute song in concert. Though, Empire of the Clouds seems like a great one for them to play live. That song would also cut down on their limited set list. You can play two or three songs in the span of that one song.

  • Christopher Boehm

    I completely agree regarding the acoustic intros and outros. IM has way over-used these since reuniting. They are not always necessary, especially when they don’t transition smoothly into the song proper.

  • antitayyip

    eating same food over and over again…!

  • Danny Becker

    after listening to book of souls (both discs) a whopping six times now, my anger has subsided somewhat. Disc 1 is not a terrible album, and has moments of ingenuity. Disc 2 needed to be culled back completely. Unbalanced album, still. Speed of Light could have easily been on No prayer for the dying and is the most out of place track on the album both production and songwriting is concerned.

  • Antonio Bigonha

    Altough I respect your opinion ( you gotta have very big balls to speak like that about a Maiden record) I don’t agree… This album is addicting…I cannot stop listening to it, specially the long songs… The Book of Souls has 80 reproductions on my Itunes hahahahahah…Red and The Black 56 and Empire 50… Anyways, for me an excellent album like they have never done in a very long time ( with the exception perhaps of AMOLAD and BNW)
    It is also an excellent workout album…Just try it, you will feel the pump :)

  • SelfIndulgence

    Someone online recently compared Iron Maiden to Kiss for being more of a business than a band now. After calming down I realized how right they may have been. I had also recently read an interview with Derek Riggs who was bitter with the band for the same reasons.
    It does feel more like a product these days with music as the sideline. Not to say they’re as bad as Kiss musically, but this is the first tour I will skip on purpose…and they are coming to my city.

    So sad the Bruce Dickinson/Arjen Lucassen collaboration was killed by management. It would have been great.

  • Amadore Blackwood

    This is a poor review. You’re focusing too much on what is bad about the album and not on what is good about it. You should instead look at the album as a whole. You say, “From these 93 minutes, an excellent 75 minute record exists” then you basically say the album isn’t good. WTH. I’m sorry but those 18 minutes just don’t drag the album down that far. Not when you consider everything that is great about it.

  • Jim Nephin

    Totally agree with this review….

    I really wanted to like this album then I heard the new Saxon one & it’s just night & day.If Saxon can make a big modern sounding produced album there’s no excuses for Maiden.

    The production on this album is shocking bad & the song writing is all over the place.None of these tracks would have made it on to a classic 80’s album, it’s almost like the band has given up on quality control.Kevin Shirley is to much of a yes man imo the band need a strong producer that would knock things into shape.

    I’d love to hear what Andy Sneap could do for a Maiden album he has worked wonders for bands like Accept & Saxon.

  • Nick Maestas

    I hate you AMG 2.5/5? What the fuck!? Jk I thought the opposite about this album though. In my opinion they sounded super energized for this release and everything about just screamed bad ass hahaha but that’s the wonder of review sites, you get to hear and read different opinions. P.S. you guys solidified me buying the new Opeth and Steven Wilson albums they’re so good also. Yo we need more Rotting Christ reviews in this place!

  • Animalus Terrificus

    I’ve been listening to metal for a few years now (when did Bullet for My Valentine’s ‘The Poison’ come out? That was the first metal record I bought…) Since then I kinda jumped deeper and have been listening to bands like insomnium, omnium gatherum, opeth, and more recently sabaton and a bunch of other stuff in between.

    I had never bought or listened to a Maiden record till this one, and I LOVE it, can’t get enough. I’ve made a lot of music choices based on this website, never regretted any – but I’m glad I went a little bit against your score on this one. I just think its perfect. I liked the sound of elements you were mildly critical of in your review… So now I’ll be perusing the retrospective and adding items from there back catalogue I think.

    Honestly, I’ve been listening to it for about 14 hours. It doesn’t even feel like a long album to me, I’ve been surprised to notice it’s finished a number of times.

  • Don Les

    Great review, raw and gritty.
    One thing to point out is that since metal album releases are rare now there is no way to have a good relative comparison, and since there is no other than Maiden that has maintained a well consistent sound.
    The album artwork is amazing, not even the ones that were sold CD or LPs are as good as this one, I was at the record store and almost bought the CD without the book but when I looked at that I was willing to pay premium just because of the quality of the package and its contents.
    Not all Maiden is taken for granted that the songs are great but listeniing to it several times you end up finding good reefs and expecting the solos and more important , these are records that need to be listened from start to finish so you get the experience of the artists (even the less quality songs make sense through the listen process)
    After all ,again they are shattering their record sales , sold out concerts everywhere. Good to be a Maiden fan.

  • mickar

    Nonsense review. The Book of Souls is a masterpiece album.

    • “You can tell the author is not an Iron Maiden fan.”

      You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. Maybe start reading this enormous thing that I wrote: Iron Maiden from Worst to Best: 15-13. And if you still think I’m “not a fan” by the end of this, regardless of whether you agree or not, then your definition of “fan” is “guy who agrees with me,” rather than “guy who loves a band’s music.”

      Also, if Maiden’s songs had been as interesting as Mozart’s but still really long, I’d not have criticized them. The problem is that they were long but not interesting.

      • mickar

        An Iron Maiden fan will tell people what’s good about Book of Souls.

        You told everyone what you thought was bad about it.

        • Because there wasn’t much to like. Doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. A fan is not a person who rubber stamps every release.

  • Anon Bananon

    I keep coming back to this record just because of how good it sounds. Although Bruce’s high range sounds really strained at times, making me doubt pressing the play button, especially in Speed of Light (the echo effect in the chorus can’t hide it). It also helps that the first track, If Eternity Should Fail, is really great (probably my favorite on the album). And despite agreeing with the generally bloated song lengths, I find myself enjoying their long epics more than most other tracks on all albums since A Matter of Life and Death. They just sound more inspired in those songs. The shorter single tracks (Wildest Dreams, Different World, El Dorado, Speed of Light) seem like they were made just for that purpose, and have been the weakest points for the last four albums (with El Dorado being the worst). Another enjoyable aspect of the album is that it has many moments that remind of Brave New World (nostalgia), for instance in the title track (also plagued by some rough high notes however). Some Fear of The Dark feel at times as well. Overall, I agree that the album could have been a real winner with some editing.

  • The performance of the album to me was typical Iron Maiden but the production sounded a little off to me. The mixing especially sounded raw and underdone.

    • Joe Rico

      See my post above. Under done with a wet blanket thrown in for good measure.

  • GardensTale

    It’s funny how opinions can differ isn’t it? I hear everyone here lamenting Man of Sorrows more so than any other song, but that song really works for me, and When the River Runs Deep has to be one of my favourite post-X-era Maiden songs. Overall, I very much enjoy the record, placing it above Final Frontier and AMOLAD easily.

    But I can’t deny you have some valid points. Some of the songs would definitely benefit from a trim, the whole Necropolis bit at the end of Eternity and some of The Red and the Black most egregiously, and frankly I could do without Tears of a Clown and The Great Unknown entirely.

    For me though, these flaws don’t spoil the album at all. Maiden will always be Maiden, not always making the best decisions but they still know how to rock it, and how many metal bands averaging 60+ can say that?

  • Joe Rico

    After reading this review for the fifth time I FINALLY listened to 1/2 the album last night. I have this album on my laptop, desktop and my smartphone. FLAC files across the board. Every time I attempt to give this album a thorough sit down I listen to one track and I can’t go on. The brick wall on the top end is a mystery to me. Either the guy mastering this is using some HOT headphones like many AKG studio can can be. Studio headphones and speakers should be ruler flat to enable the engineer of obtaining a good mix. Or it was never mastered which is what happened to AMOLAD. Harris was given a compressed un mastered copy of album to listen to in the car and he loved it so much…on HIS system…and gave the go ahead to send THAT copy to press. Now Im sure after 40 + years playing on stage his hearing is a bit…..deteriorated. So we can also estimate that his car audio system( and I know Harris is into high end car audio since Ive seen many trade publications featuring his mega £££ systems throughout the years as many rockers do) boosted in the tweeter department as is common in either the ground pounder crowd OR the high end segment where many older males AND professional musicians do suffer from hearing loss. I’m a car audio installer so I see this all time. Metal dome tweeters for the 50+ male crowd. Soft domes for the ladies.

    You can hear Harris’ fingers on the strings in many tracks so its NOT the recording. Its either in the mix/ mastering or lack therof the latter. And I’m positive a heavy hand on the compression button.
    How did I finally get through 1/2 the album….which I might add IS the best thing they’ve done since Brave New World? I had to hit the damn Clarity button on the EQ of my smartphone. That is a MASSIVE high freqency boost for those wondering. And I listened through a pair of in ear monitors with a very hot treble. I haven’t had the intestinal fortitude to experiment with the EQ on either of my computers since I usually shy away from anything lo-fi when I’m using my more expensive gear. I prefer to hit play and smile. If a recording sounds dull on a pair of ATH M-50x which is the hottest and analytical pair of headphones I own…. well Houston we have a problem. The ONLY genre that I can forgive for a lo-fi muffled sound is old school Black Metal.

    Maiden and Dream Theater have one thing in common. Kevin Shirley. Most of Dream Theaters later Portnoy albums suck in the sound department being severly top end limited. I would like to hear every nuance of every cymbal in his monster kit. But instead we get a muffled overly compressed mess the same as the Maiden recordings. Throw a wet blanket over the speakers and thats what we have in both band camps.

    Yes this rant over the sound quality would have been more valid a year ago. But then I wouldn’t have been able to conduct this unintentional experiment of not giving a serious listen to a Maiden release for this many months.

    Rant over.

  • disqus_1S1GyNUnq5

    if only they found a way to get rid of that control freak harris, maiden could really rise to something great again. but like this, they are forgettable. only living on rehashes. and why are there six freaking members in this band when 3 or maybe 4 would suffice?

  • James Stark

    Ok, two years later, do you folks still feel the same about Book of Souls? When I first heard it, a couple of songs were “catchy” but that was about it. You see, Piece of Mind, in my opinion, is the greatest album…EVER! Well, after listening to the album a few times and reading the lyrics, it started to grow on me. Today, again in my opinion, Book of Souls blows NOTB out-of-the-water. Yes, it is better than Piece of Mind.