Album Review no.21: Somewhere in Time - Iron Maiden

kempokid
Iron Maiden is a band that has constantly evolved, from it's gritty Dianno records, to the metal classics such as NOTB and Powerslave, to the dark, brooding Bayley era, to the atmospheric, long masterpieces of Bruce's return. One album in particular that showed some form of evolution is Somewhere in time, which incorporated synth into the music without it sounding cheesy or forced.

Caught Somewhere in Time:
The intro used is the absolute perfect way to start an album, it gets you hyped up for what's to come without slamming it down your throat. That's the way I feel about the song in general, an amazing song that gets you excited, without being the defining song on the album. The main riff is decent, but the bass and drums is where this song really shines, with the bouncy bassline and the hyperactive, yet precise beat. My favorite part of the song is definitely when Bruce starts to sing "time is always on my side" for no reason other than, it sounds really cool. I find this a really great way to kick off this album.
10/10

Wasted Years:
This song definitely has one of my favorite intros ever. The guitar mixed with that underlying bassline is simply a divine combination. I enjoy the chorus a lot, and the vocals are of extremely high quality (as always), I find the riff to be pretty decent as well. The highlight of the song is doubtlessly the solo however, which perfectly expands on that opening 10 seconds and perfectly flows into the chorus.
10/10

Sea of Madness:
Is it just me, or does the production on this song sound very, VERY different to the rest of the album? Despite this weird thing that I've noticed, this is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. The verses are fairly short, but they are still pretty good. The real high point of the song takes the form of the chorus, which is absolutely amazing. The song in general is a much more calming one, with the instrumentation past the first 10-20 seconds being very calming, despite the speed of it. All in all, I don't really know what exactly makes this one of my favorites on the album, but it doesn't change my feelings for it.
10/10

Heaven Can Wait:
This is my least favorite song on the album. I find the opening riff to be fairly lackluster. That said, after that, the song still has a lot to love about it. My favorite thing about this one is probably the lyrical content, which is something that I personally rarely think about, but these ones are just too cool to not mention. The song definitely has a lot of energy to it, and the use of synth in the chorus is executed well the bridge in the middle where everything slows down feels a lot like a display of Bruce's vocals to me, which I personally don't mind. The 'ooah, ooaaooh" part is really great as well and is something that I didn't expect to hear when I first listened to the album. Other than that opening riff, everything about this song is amazing, and that riff is such a minor part of the song that I don't even care.
10/10

The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner:
This is an underrated classic for sure. The buildup isn't ever beaten on the album, as this is absolutely perfect in that regard. The vocal patterns are extremely bizarre and continue way past what seems logical. I originally didn't like the song because of this, but looking at it after a couple of years, I think that it really fits the generally desperate tone that the song has. After a short solo about halfway through the song, Bruce once again proves that he's one of the best vocalists ever, before one of the best guitar solos on the album kicks in directly afterward, making the middle section of the song magnificent. This is also the perfect song for jogging.
10/10

Stranger in a Strange Land:
The bassline in this song is really good, it isn't necessarily technically impressive, but I find songs led by the bass to be really interesting. The song is also really dark and atmospheric, which is why I love the later albums so much, so seeing it here is extremely nice. The main guitar riff is also really dark and almost creepy. Even the solo keeps up the fact that this is a pretty sad, bleak song.
10/10

Deja Vu:
After 2 of the more complex songs, be it for either tonal or instrumental reasons, it's nice to have a fun, simple song, and this just might be one of the most fun Iron Maiden songs full stop. I can't help but sing along to every word of this song, especially that killer chorus. Bruce's vocals are great here, as they jump from a low, slightly gritty voice, to this extremely high, operatic sound, all in the space of a few seconds. And once again, I must say that it's nearly impossible to beat that chorus when focusing on Maiden.
10/10

Alexander the Great:
And now for the obligatory Iron Maiden Epic found at the end of an album. This is another amazing song that has some amazing buildup before the inevitable explosion of vocal power. All of the instrumentation is also really good. The first solo is a nice break in the song that makes effective use of the synth. This song in general has a much more progressive feel to it thanks to the extra solos as well as that tonal change that occurs after the second chorus. I've always interpreted the much heavier, more grandiose instrumental section of the song to represent some kind of war or the gradual conquest of many nations. The instrumental section itself also shows the capabilities of the band, especially Adrian Smith. The song has a certain majesty to it that can't be found in many of their other songs, which is fitting when the song is about Alexander the Great.
10/10

8*10 + 2*10 = 100/100

Final Thoughts:
This is just one of those albums that I cannot find fault in. Every song is amazing and manages to have their own individual merits, while still maintaining the unified sound that a studio album should have. As said in my introduction, the synth is used really nicely in a non intrusive way that adds to the songs rather than sounding like its in there for the sake of it. None of the band members have any particularly poor moments, even if I'm not the keenest on the opening riff of Heaven Can Wait, but I'm not rating a 7 minute song down for a 10 second intro that wasn't even that bad. I find this the turning point of Maiden, where they managed to evolve past their more simplistic material (even though the last 2 songs on Powerslave really started doing this) and transform into the near perfect band that they became from this point onwards, if you ignore a couple of missteps.

Comments

By the way, I don't dislike the simplicity of early Maiden and I admit that some songs from the earlier albums were also very complex. What I'm saying in the review is that this is the point where is was extremely consistent to have long, complex songs. I find almost all of Maiden to be amazing - kempokid

Great review, and I agree with you about the synths being used in a way that’s not cheesy. - visitor

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