There’s an ominous roar in the distance – the sound of the hordes approaching intent on battle. The Metal hordes, the Blood Brothers, united in a quest to kill false metal, pop metal – anything. Anything except Iron Maiden – the gods of metal – Judas Priest, and erm…Manowar. And a lot of other bands currently considered big in japan and certain european territories.
From the shlock-horror of the classical theme (nicked wholesale from ooh, scary, The Omen…) to the ending metallic crash of the once-mighty "Run to the Hills" Iron Maiden stay on the safe, the narrow, the predictable. Theres nothign as stale as the sound of predictability wrapped up in cliches. Squealy guitars? You got it. Cymbal crashes? Yep, them too; all set to the thundering clunk of old school trad-metal…..
With the return of Bruce Dickinson on vocals, it surely seemed like a good time to cash-in. Musically however, following a creative lull that has seen Maiden release unexceptional and derivative music for nigh on a decade , and with a large amount of these new(ish) songs on this double live 2 hour long set from these years, its to be approached by caution at best. There’s some stand out moments – “Wickerman” “Blood Brothers” are fun in a fist-punchingly regressive cheesy way, but when we get to tracks like “Clansman” (a retread of Braveheart,galloping trad-metal style)or ”Dream of Mirrors” (zzzz) and the 11 minute long “Sign of the Cross”, all fo which clock in at nigh on 10 minutes (and seem much much longer).... it’s a test of even the most devoted fans patience, and tedious to boot.
Unremarkably, given the tailoff, its the older tracks that fare better, The predictable and usual classics are present and correct; (“Wrathchild”, “Iron Maiden” ; are both over 20 years old – and sound it), and the majority of the stand out tracks here are getting on for over 15 years old.”The Trooper” rocks like a mutha, “Two minutes to midnight” too, and “Fear of the Dark” is the best of a bad bunch. However, in poorly mixed, ineffective and powerless live versions, they just seem less crap than the rest of it. They’re just how you remember them – or more likely, just like how your dad remembers them. Or that old bloke in the rock pub with the denim jacket and patches, moaning about how much better things were in the good ol’ days…..
In a way it saddens me to say it, but I’ve got to be honest. Iron Maiden were singlehandedly responsible for me getting into metal.But now they seem outdated, outmoded, clinging to musical genres that are 10 years out of date – and proud of it. However much Bruce Dickinson thinks he’s being post-modern and Ironic in his hammy schlocky stage raps, it can’t disguise that while his tongue is in his cheek, the 250,000+ strong crowd are lapping it up with total po-faced seriousness.
This being the 6th live Iron maiden release (though admittably, the first in 9 years) means its quite frankly a pointless exercise in commercial cashing-in, and a pointless duplication of live material. It’s the sound of a lumbering dinosaur, a behemoth that doesn’t know when to stop, when to give-up, when its out of date and out of time. It’s the sound of a band on their creative last legs, wheezing pathetically around the world in a vain quest to find some reason not to give up. The only musical boundaries its pushing is my patience.
There’s no reason for this record except to bolster their already huge pension funds. Its unnecessary; the only musical statement it makes is how unimportant and irrelevant this band are now. If you need one Iron Maiden record...this isn't it. (get "live at donington" instead if you must)
Crap. And not even in an ironically good way.
3Graham Reed's Score