Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls Album ReviewIronSabbathPriest Five years is a long time to wait, for a band like Iron Maiden, who many years ago, were obliged to release an album every year. But we do know there have been albums where we've had to wait much longer. Like with Morbid Angel with Illud Divinium Insanus.
But here it is, five years after their Final Frontier album, the Book of Souls!
So, the band actually wanted to call the album that since the summer of 2014, and Steve Harris had been working on the title track since two years ago.
So after the long wait, the band reward us with a double album. 92 minutes of new Maiden... and there's only 11 tracks. So yeah, a lot of these songs are pretty damn long. Which is a good thing.
I'd actually heard two songs off the album before buying it. Those are If Eternity Should Fail and Speed of Light. If Eternity Should Fail is the majestic opener, with an intro played in drop D tuning. And a gallop that reminds me of Ghost of the Navigator. This is an awesome composition by Bruce Dickinson, I really like it. And Speed of Light, well, pretty awesome for a single. Kind of like the younger brother of 2 Minutes to Midnight.
As the album progresses you get into more complex material such as The Great Unknown, which reminds me of something from Final Frontier, so I can see this being an underrated gem on the album. But what we really need to talk about is the Red and the Black, track #4.
Now this track is the only song on the album written entirely by bassist Steve Harris, and is about the same length as their old longest song, Rime of the Ancient Mariner. And the gallop in the first part of this song is reminicent to the Rime. Which doesn't mean they're reusing their ideas at all, in fact, this song gets better with every second. There are a lot of "woahs" which replace "sailing on and on and on" then you get to a fantastic chorus, some great keyboard, and the solos... they're absolutely incredible. The best song from this disc of the album. Although it doesn't quite reach up to the heights of Rime of the Ancient Mariner... but will anything? We'll see...
Afterwards, you get to When the River Runs Deep, which spends no time messing around and punches you in the face at note one. Great track. And then this disc of the album closes off with the title track. Slightly slower than some of the others from the album, but no doubt it's the second best. People always complain about Janick Gers, but he is a great songwriter. Fantastic track, love the chorus and solo.
But wait... the album's not finished yet! Another disc to listen to! This one opens up with Death or Glory, which is just a badass song. While I prefer Speed of Light, this one is better placed on the album. SOL feels like an opener, not an ideal track #2, but this is placed well.
Shadows of the Valley has an intro that is almost note for note like Wasted Years, but after that the song takes hold of it's own leash, and is fantastic. Great chorus, and lyrics. I just hope Adrian knows about this song...
Tears of a Clown is dedicated to the late and great Robbin Williams. The song isn't a ballad per say, but you get the same feeling as you would with a ballad. Bruce Dickinson has proudly claimed this as his favourite from the album.
The Man of Sorrows is the Murray-Harris song on the album (there's always one) and is very dark and brooding. Not as good as the Man Who Would be King, but good. This song serves as an opener to a mammoth track lurking at the end. And boy, do I have a lot to say about this track.
The Empire of the Clouds. An 18 minute song written entirely by Bruce. (With small additional help from drummer Nicko Mcbrain) Meaning it's almost five minutes longer than their second longest song. Yeah, pretty long. The song is about a 1930s airship known as the R101. Which was caught in a violent storm, killing 48 of the 54 people on board.
The song begins with some piano playing by Bruce, then you get some drumming, followed by some lyrics, which speak of the airship and how everything is hopeful and upbeat, much like the Talisman from the previous album. This carries on for about seven minutes, before the song goes into part 2. An instrumental section with some fantastic soloing and riffing. Then there's the storm sequence, and the situation of the R101 really takes hold. I really wish this part lasted longer, but you can't have everything.
The song then calms down, and goes back to that beautiful piano playing that we heard in the beginning. Followed by more lyrics that sympathise the airship. Like a graveyard scene. And finishing off with a line that brings a tear to one's eye. Because this magnificent piece of art has finished. I never thought I'd say this, but it's better than Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This is truly a fantastic track to finish a fantastic album.
I name this album, the best of 2015, (even beating Blind Guardian's Beyond the Red Mirror, Phenominal album as well.)
Also, it's the best Maiden album of the 2000s, and the 90s. And easily cracks their top five albums. Although this is possibly better than the lot. I dunno, I need to look back on this album in a years time. And I'm not being biased at all here, I'm saying all this not as an Iron Maiden fan, but as a music fan. This album DEMANDS your listen. And if you're an elitist Maiden fan who still lives in 1982, get your head out of your ass and look at things objectively. This is easily better than the Number of the Beast. (Great album though).
So yeah, Bruce, I wish you all the best with your cancer recovery. Steve, I wish you the best coping with the deaths of your loved ones. Your creative output hasn't gone unnoticed. You're great.
Holy s***, I'm rambling on like a sailor on shore leave. Buy this album! Listen to it! Listen to Empire of the Clouds too!
Empire is the 8th best song on the album, and there is no way NOTB is worse than this, - gemcloben
Disagree. Whilst NOTB is a great album, and has some great tracks like Hallowed be thy Name and Children of the Damned, most of the album is just a speedfest. Whilst this has more variety. - IronSabbathPriest
Trust me, variety is not good. - gemcloben
I'm not gonna trust you there, I know enough music to know variety is good. Variety is something Iron Maiden lacked for a long time, and at least this album keeps it interesting so that all the songs don't blend into one. - Songsta41
Variety is awesome and trust me I prefer the book of souls to NOTB.i dunno maybe I like the more progressive nature of this albulm - Toucan
I Agree This is THE ALBULM OF THE YEAR(I'm in love with empire of the clouds) - Toucan
Ahem, To Pimp A Butterfly. Just saying. - WonkeyDude98
Twas a good album, don't get me wrong. But overall Hand. Cannot. Erase by Steven Wilson was my fave of 2015.
To Pimp a Butterfly best non rock or metal album. - IronSabbathPriest
I've heard great things about H.C.E., and respect your opinion. - WonkeyDude98
What does Kendrick Lamar have to do with Iron Maiden? And why do you have a constant need to say Kendrick is better? (He’s the opposite in my opinion.) I’ve seen your comments on the best songs of 2015 list. - visitor
To Pimp a Butterfly is actually pretty great. Slightly overrated but I can see why so many people love it. - IronSabbathPriest
I’m not a fan of it; I just think it’s okay. But when you have a constant need to say it’s better than another thing, that’s obnoxious and immature as f**k. - visitor
This is definitely my favourite Maiden album by a long shot, and this is coming from a massive fan of the band. It was honestly surprising to see this after the Final Frontier, which I have mixed feelings about. - kempokid
Ever since I first listened to Book Of Souls, I’ve thought it was the best Maiden album; even better than Powerslave. - visitor