Iron Maiden Somewhere in Time CoverA month ago, I wrote about my first-ever experience that opened the doorway to the wonderful world of metal music. Many of you wrote back about your first exposure. AMG laughed his ass off and told me that my taste in Europe sucks.1 But that was part of the story. There was another song that grabbed me that year. A song that stood the test of time about as well as, if not better than, “The Final Countdown.” A song that, when played, will guarantee smiles, thrown horns, and a hearty, horribly off-tune sing-along. Today, I get the pleasure of inaugurating the album it came from into our hallowed Yer Metal is Olde! halls. I am, of course, talking about Somewhere in Time, the oft-maligned sixth full-length from Metal Gods Iron Maiden.

I know what you’re thinking. “But GrymmothyAMG already covered Somewhere in Time in his epic list of worst-to-best Maiden albums.” You would be correct. Also, don’t call me “Grymmothy” ever again. It is true that Somewhere in Time got a lot of flack in its day for having guitar synth, but unlike Judas Priest‘s Turbo, Somewhere in Time has aged quite well. For starters, “Caught Somewhere in Time” stayed the course as a ripping Maiden album opener, complete with Bruce Dickinson’s soaring vocals, Steve Harris’ galloping bass lines, and the twin-guitar duels from Adrian Smith and Dave Murray. In fact, if you ignore the guitar synth, the album is pure Maiden through and through.

The deeper cuts on Somewhere in Time are also horn-throwingly incredible. “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” and album closer “Alexander the Great” deserve some live love, as both are phenomenal Harris-penned epics, with the latter having never been performed live. “Heaven Can Wait,” a former live staple, possessed one of the heartiest chant-alongs in their catalog. That said, it was Smith’s contributions on Somewhere in Time that win the day. “Sea of Madness” has one of my favorite choruses in all of Maiden‘s repertoire. “Stranger in a Strange Land” was a bluesy almost-ballad recalling the sad fate of a man frozen in ice, and proved to be a hit single. But those two songs couldn’t hold a candle to another Smith-penned anthem that I refer to as “The Song.”

Iron Maiden Band 1986
Yes, nine year-old me’s first exposure was Europe‘s “The Final Countdown,” but it was “Wasted Years” that kicked me through the doorway of metal music and locked the fucker shut behind me. The lyrics detailing Smith’s growing homesickness, Dickinson’s awesome vocals, the most epic of choruses, and of course that jaw-dropping descending E Minor tremolo riff that opens the song… that was the music that said to little me, “Hey, this right here? This is metal, kid.” This song always puts a smile on my face. It’s the song that my fiancé and I sang along to en route to and from Chinese food dinner on Christmas.2 When people think of Maiden, they think “Run to the Hills” or “The Number of the Beast.” Whenever I play them this song, however, they hunt down their entire catalog and realize what they’re missing. Folks, that is the power of “Wasted Years.”

Granted, the lyrics aren’t the best, and those synths are overbearing at times, but to damn Somewhere in Time because of them would be criminal. While not my top pick for my favorite Maiden album (that would be its follow-up, 1988’s awesome Seventh Son of a Seventh Son), it comes a very close second, and I am proud to induct the album into our hallowed halls. Up the Irons, damnit!

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Frankly, yes it does. Wings of Tomorrow is a much, much better Europe album. Nine year-old me is hanging his afro’d little head in shame.
  2. It’s now a Christmas tradition with us to play a Maiden album to/from Chinese food dinner while singing along. You should try it!
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  • VenomousHulk

    This is my favorite Maiden album. I’ll never let anyone else tell me otherwise, as every song on this album is just a winner to me.

  • I was pretty disappointed by this album when I first heard it since it followed classics like Piece of Mind and Powerslave, but over the years it’s really grown on me and become one of my favorites.

    • eloli

      Barring Turbo and Cold Lake, this must be my most disappointing metal release fromt the good ol’ 80s. Dude, we really hated synths back then. :D

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        There’s a place for synths but… 80’s Metal is no place for synths. That coming from a guy who really likes “Somewhere In Time”, which I believe wa good DESPITE, not because, of the synths.

  • Ralph Plug

    Great album. Somehow it’s a record I mostly play in the Summer, when the weather’s good. It has that Summer-y feel about it for some reason.

  • GardensTale

    While Dance of Death was my first Maiden album (I’m not as old and crotchety as most of the staff!), Somewhere in Time was the first I owned, and I still feel like it’s the most underappreciated Maiden record (Dance of Death is a nostalgia-rose-tinted-glasses personal second). Deja-Vu and Loneliness both kick major ass and never get a single mention when it comes to good Maiden tunes. Glad to see it getting some appreciation here!

  • This will forever be my favorite Maiden disc, with Piece Of Mind and Powerslave coming in 2nd and 3rd. “Wasted Years” was also the first of many Iron Maiden songs I learned on guitar, and it’s still a hoot to play to this day!

  • Daneel Olivaw

    what year we have…2016.well..this album will be ALWAYS 50 years ahead!!!

  • [not a Dr]

    I never tire of the intertwined bass and guitar solos in Stranger in a Strange Land.
    Sadly enough, when I introduced my girlfriend to Iron Maiden, she saw Steve’s zebra pants and Bruce’s weightlifting pirate outfit and refused to listen to their music ever again. I now have to sneak Iron Maiden songs into playlists for her to acknowledge that they rock.

    • GardensTale

      When I met my girlfriend, her favorite bands were Linkin Park and Rise Against. Now she only recently swapped her Iron Maiden Discography mp3 disc out of her car, after 2 months or so, to replace it with Gloryhammer. We actually went to see them just a few months ago, too, and they are still amazing as ever live!

      What I’m trying to say is, my taste in girlfriends is better than yours.

      • [not a Dr]

        When I met my girlfriend, she listened mostly to québecois folk and prog.
        But she was the one who introduced me to Therion.
        And we started out drinking wine in a cemetery by an abandoned bunt church during a thunderstorm while listening to King Diamond. On the 1st of May.
        I’m considering bringing her to the ALESTORM, NEKROGOBLIKON and AETHER REALM show for her birthday.

        • GardensTale

          Now you’re just showing off.

          Although mine got me tickets to Clutch for my birthday, so there’s that.

        • Reese Burns

          Alestorm? Are you breaking up with her? ;)

          • André Snyde Lopes

            Alestorm live shows are fucking baller dude. One of my best live experiences.

          • Reese Burns

            Heh, I’m just kidding around, I don’t really have any sort of problem with Alestorm, but the general consensus around here is that they’re no good :P

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Nothing like seeing drunk amateurs pretending to play music.

          • [not a Dr]

            Pirates! Goblins! Bears!
            They don’t need to be professional bears, either.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Well, you’re allowed to enjoy them, and you’re obviously not the only person that does. I always forget about’em for 8 months or so, then see someone lavishing praise on them here, so I check out the first song off of that “Back Through Time” album, and I’m mystified. I just can’t understand how people can listen for more than two minutes without shutting them off in disqust. Pirate crap or whatever they’re going for, the guy’s TRYING yo sound bad. He’s singing in A when the song is progressing in D. Great, if they wanna sound drunk and talentless, but, IMO, music shouldn’t get praise because it’s garbage. One of the worst “bands” I’ve ever heard, no question.

          • [not a Dr]

            My daughters agree with you. They will throw a tantrum and refuse to open the door when I drop them at school for fear that their friends will hear Alestorm blasting from the car in which they arrived.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Well, I shouldn’t be so passionate about a band I dislike. For some reason these guys just stir up something in me. This post is about Maiden, so I’ll lay off on the Alestorm whining.

          • Reese Burns

            I’d say Nekrogoblikon get a pass though, I have a special sort of love for them.

      • Jason

        I’m still trying to introduce my girlfriend to more metal. Nothing’s really stuck so far, but she did mention that Motorhead is growing on her, so there’s still hope!

      • Hulksteraus

        My wife liked Maiden enough to come with me, my best mate, my brother and my Dad to The Melbourne leg of the Somewhere back in time tour. We even made it on (for half a second) the Flight 666 documentary. We still laugh at that!

        Whilst she did enjoy the hell out of the gig, she is not a huge fan and I have to limit my Maiden listening at home Actually pretty much limit all metal at home… Although she does adore Anathema and is very partial to porcupine tree – I know, Anathema are not really metal these days and porcupine tree is proggy.

        Luckily my 5 year old son worships Maiden. My ring tone is Wasted Years and he always says “phones ringing” when Wasted Years comes on.

        • GardensTale

          If you haven’t yet pushed Steven Wilson’s “Hand Cannot Erase” on her, do it. It’s depressing perfection.

          • Hulksteraus

            She’s heard it, she has had Wilson overdose the last couple of years though and needs a break.. I am seeing him in 2 months time however and very much looking forward to it.

        • Headphones to the rescue!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      It’s OK if she doesn’t like Iron Maiden, you can always get another girlfriend

      • [not a Dr]

        The thing is, she likes Iron Maiden. She just can’t admit it.
        And she will never condone the zebra pants.

        More zebra pants for all of you!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Get her some zebra pants for a gift and see what she does…

      • Fuzzybunny

        Or a second one?

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          If the second girlfriend doesn’t like Iron Maiden either then he would have to get a third one, and I don’t how much money he’s making, not everyone can afford three girlfriends.

          • Fuzzybunny

            Very good point!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Because getting a new problem doesn’t mean you’ve solved the old one…

          • Fuzzybunny

            Ah, but maybe the benefitsxomement each other. Still a tricky way to live. Cough. I’ve heard…..

    • Sergio

      My GF still does not like them, but I can’t really complain because she is understanding of my Maiden obsession and went with me to two of the Maiden shows I went to this year.
      As for this album, I absolutely love it. It’s been my favorite Maiden album for years now. Every song on it is excellent and underrated next to many of Maiden’s other famous songs.
      It’s a shame that a lot of the material in this album doesn’t get played live very often now a days. In the 12 times I’ve seen them only Wasted Years and Heaven Can Wait have been played, but I would do anything to be able to see them play Sea of Madness, or Stranger in a Strange Land. Those two are absolutely beautiful songs.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    What a band… what a band…

  • themetalyears

    As would befit an album obsessed with time and the loss of it thereof, this gem only gets better as I age. The themes of loneliness, feeling adrift on the sea of humanity and under the gaze of the impassive universe, the feeling of having “been here before”…of time stretching out behind you but not so much ahead…all take on deeper meaning, the lyrics become more personal. So, while I enjoyed “Wasted Years” as a 13 year old for its twin riffage and sing-along chorus, as a 42 year old it resonates on an entirely different level.

    • GardensTale

      Listening to Wasted Years for 30-odd years is not wasting your years.

    • [not a Dr]

      Stranger in a Strange Land takes a whole new meaning when you move from Peru to Canada.

  • Iain Gleasure

    It doesn’t matter how often this staff tries to push Alexander the Great, Iron Maiden know it’s their weakest 80’s epic.

  • lennymccall

    My all time favorite Maiden and the only show I ever saw. Meant to go see them again just never pulled the trigger.

    • Reese Burns

      If love to see Maiden live, but the crowds keep me away. I absolutely hate huge concerts, I like smaller shows better.

      • lennymccall

        Never been a problem for me. Just wasn’t that into them after this record. Bummed I missed the 80s tour they did recently that would have been awesome…

      • [not a Dr]

        When they came to Ottawa for the Fear of the Dark tour, they played in a small enough coliseum that they couldn’t deploy all their props. Testament was opening for them. Pure awesomeness from start to finish.

        • Reese Burns

          When did that happen??? Ottawa ain’t too far from me, now I’m all bummed out.

          • [not a Dr]

            June 1992. We arrived early in the morning. I was among the first 20 people in. Got squashed against the security fence. High-fived Chuck Billy accross the bouncer trench (he’s freaking impressive in person). My friends and I (we were 16 years old at the time) got tired of preventing my 13 year old little brother from getting crushed in the mosh pit, so we sent him crowd surfing. Then I had to spend the next 5 songs looking for him.

  • Jason

    Somewhere in Time was probably my first exposure to Iron Maiden. I remember staring at the cover art, scanning all of the little details in the background and wondering if they had hidden meanings.

    • [not a Dr]

      It’s a Manowarish reference to their other albums/songs.

  • Nag Dammit

    Wasted Years is a classic. Brings back memories of visiting the Kebab-ulance (an old converted ambulance that someone had parked on a roundabout in my home town) serving kebabs, after being dropped off by the coach returning me from the only rock / metal club for miles around called The Pink Toothbrush. Just realising how insane this sounds as I type it.

    • Sharp-Blunt Boy

      The Pink Toothbrush! A classic venue – many a good night had there. You weren’t too far away from the Grand or Esplanade, either. And more fitting with this thread, who didn’t enjoy a night out at the Ruskin arms?

      • Nag Dammit

        Yeah, the toothbrush was great. I never got to the esplanade, even when Fu-Manchu played there, which would have been cool. Never heard of the Grand but obviously my knowledge of Essex venues was as bad back then as it is now.

        The Ruskin Arms I did get to once or twice on a coach organised by someone from my 6th form college. Got Shit faced on Newcastle brown, breakers and red stripe from whatnot can recall. Great times.

  • WhamBamSam

    Somewhere in Time is flawless. Seventh Son is merely good, somewhere towards the lower end of their discography with Dickinson. Come at me bro.

    • GardensTale

      7th son is not perfect. Infinite Dreams will always and forever be their best song though. The songwriting is just absolutely flawless on that song.

      • [not a Dr]

        When I read your overbawss’ description of what a 5/5 meant (has to make me feel the same way I felt after listening to Seventh Son of a Seventh Son), I decided that I could trust this site’s score system. For me, Infinite Dreams is a close second to The Prophecy.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    One of the few Maiden albums I don’t own, but I think it’s also one of their more underrated. Consistently good songs starting with “Caught Somewhere in Time,” and ending with one of my personal favorite Maiden songs “Alexander the Great.” Awesome to see this album here.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    Singing along to Wasted Years when I saw them live was one of the greatest experiences of my life. When you have thousands of fans around you, singing along to that chorus… it’s just magical.

    Oh and the cover art on this album is incredible, too. It must be owned on vinyl.

    • Reese Burns

      I remember having my heart skip a beat when I found this on vinyl at my local shop (They don’t usually have much metal at all) good stuff.

  • You wot m8?

    You will always be Grymmothy to me…

  • Bas

    My first ‘real’ metal love (after gnr paradise city) was also maiden, but a different one: Can I plan with madness. Thanks for the review Grymm. I always appreciate and enjoy your contributions to AGM.

  • hallowed

    Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted beers…

  • theburningdown

    I remember being a tad disappointed when this album came out. The synths were worrying and it lacked the aggression of Piece of Mind and Powerslave but also I’d bought the Wasted Years single 2 or 3 weeks beforehand and played it constantly…nothing else on the album hit those heights but looking back Stranger, Heaven Can Wait & Loneliness were great songs too. Somewhere In Time gets overlooked too readily as it falls between the twin studio peaks of Powerslave and Seventh Son

  • Gloomer88

    Amazing album, not a big fan of HCW but the progression in sound and song writing at the time, I mean hearing that into for the first time as a teenager, WOW it was new then, on to 7th Son even better and that album gets better with time, I still like to think what if they kept the same direction in song writing for the next album! We have all missed out and got handed No prayer for the Dying and that was the beginning of the end or an end of an era

  • cuhnskiner

    No band better than Maiden

  • I have a long story to tell…but the short end of the stick is…I completely missed the whole Iron Maiden thing growing up. I mean…all of it.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Me too, as I wasn’t into Metal at the time. We should start a support group.

      However, it’s been fun playing catch-up.

      • I was into metal. Just not Dad Rock! Just kidding, just kidding…but that’s what I thought IM was at the time!

  • madhare

    Wasted Years is my personal theme song. (It’s also been my ring tone ever since I got my first cell phone.) I’ve moved a few times from country to country. And then I often end up travelling a lot between these places. Often it’s in an emotional state because it’s either farewell or returning to someone you love. There’s nothing like flying at night, looking out the plane window at glimmering city lights in the darkness, and having Wasted in your your earphones…

    From the coast of gold, across the seven seas
    I’m travellin’ on, far and wide
    But now it seems, I’m just a stranger to myself
    And all the things I sometimes do, it isn’t me but someone else

    I close my eyes, and think of home
    Another city goes by in the night
    Ain’t it funny how it is, you never miss it ’til it’s gone away
    And my heart is lying there and will be ’til my dying day

    So understand, Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years
    Face up… make your stand, And realise you’re living in the golden years

    It tears me up. And then I take another sip of the whisky / cognac and grin at how fucking awesome that moment is while singing along in my head.

    • zid

      Same. I’ve been cross country a bunch of times now and am living in my fifth home in four decades.

  • ronin1572

    Somewhere in Time was my first Maiden album. I feel its kinda unique sitting between Powerslave and Seventh Son

  • Pulsating Steel

    I can’t believe I missed hearing “Wasted Years” all this time.

    There’s so much excellent metal out there. YMIO is probably my favorite aspect of this site (and that’s saying something).

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Top 5 Maiden albums:

    1. Number of the Beast
    2. Powerslave
    3. The Book of Souls
    4. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
    5. Somewhere in Time

    Tough to leave Piece of Mind out, kind of a toss-up for fifth.

  • Jeff Kent

    Even my Mom liked ‘Wasted Years.’

  • This is, probably, my favorite Maiden album. And this is, probably, a great review of it.

  • IronBerserk

    It ain’t my favorite or even close of my favorite of the Maiden records. But that doesn’t mean it ain’t awesome. Maiden tends to always be great no matter what…except for THAT album…you know, THAT 11th album that should not be named unless your a hardcore Blaze Bayley fan :P lol!

    1) The Number of the Beast
    2) Piece of Mind
    3) The Book of Souls
    4) Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
    5) Brave New World
    6) Powerslave

  • Kill The King

    I wish there were AMG shirts and hoodies.

  • Flyingguillotine

    This is one of my all-time favorite albums… Maiden, anybody. I was already listening to AC/DC, so I’ll given them the honor of introducing me to metal, but Somewhere in Time was truly the album that locked my love of this music. I’ve listened to it thousands of times over the years, and never get sick of it.

    It’s an album for all moods; I can love it for the songwriting, the musicianship, the fun of belting along, or…

    Sometimes, just sometimes, out of nowhere the urge to put it on comes, and on those first notes I’m fourteen years old again, looking out the window of my room, lit by gold autumn sunlight, in a house I haven’t been in for decades, the bedroom door closed so my parents — now also gone — won’t complain about the heavy metal, and just like I did when I’d play a cassette tape on an old Lennox boom box, I’d be caught… caught somewhere in time.

  • TheNihilist

    Is really necessary another generic review of this album? Maybe if you review the 24/96000 Hz version of 2015…
    Favorite track: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner…

  • Eryops

    The first time I heard Wasted Years live was one of the few times I’ve cried at a concert. Beautiful.

  • Caio

    I’m still waiting a Yer Metal is Olde for Aenima or 10,000 Days (Tool)

  • zid

    …is that the vehicle from Borderlands they’re next to/on?

    • Grymm

      And now I have the music of Cage the Elephant stuck in my head.

      I love those games.

      • zid

        Not a bad tune to have stuck in your head. I love those games, too.

  • FelixtheMetalcat

    Great review and over time this album has become a top 5 Maiden album for me. So very true, Adrian Smith really defines a whole lot of this album for me, his playing here is outstanding.

  • Solrac Avan

    Brave New World is still my favorite Maiden album, it intorduced me to Maiden and to metal in general, however, Wasted Years is one hell of a glorious song, especially the 99 live version