Here’s a reprint of my review of the outstanding new Maiden album.
Fun fact-while I was writing this I had a workman at Castle McFee beating the absolute shit out of my living room ceiling. I don’t recommend trying to make a deadline while it feels like your head in caving in….
The Book Of Souls
KEY TRACK: ‘Empire Of The Clouds’
METAL MAESTROS MAKE A MASTERPIECE.
Arguably their most anticipated album since The Number Of The Beast (a record which saw Maiden take a huge gamble by replacing original singer Paul Di’Anno with heavy metal air raid siren Bruce Dickinson back in ’82), The Book Of Souls is a similarly important opus in the world of rock. Hell, even the likes of Lady Gaga has confessed to getting up at 5am just to buy the damn thing. You see not only it is the band’s inaugural double album, it also features the debut of their frontman playing piano on the 18 minute long ‘Empire Of The Clouds,’ (their longest track to date) and, perhaps most importantly, it is their first release since Bruce Dickinson beat tongue cancer.
Clocking at over 92 minutes of music, the two disc beast is a feast for fans of the evergreen metal titans. The Robin Williams-inspired ‘Tears Of A Clown’ is a touching tribute to the departed comic and has a massive chorus and Thin Lizzy-esque rhythms, the bombastic ‘Death Or Glory’ sees them hark back to their NWOBHM days, while the sprawling, Steve Harris penned ‘The Red And The Black’ is another future classic from the band’s founder thanks to some Irish trad-inspired melodies.
‘Empire Of The Clouds’ is sure to be the album’s biggest talking point though. Inspired by the R101 airship disaster (a craft so big the Titanic could fit inside) and penned solo by Dickinson, it’s a mammoth rock opera packed with orchestra flourishes, numerous time changes and even some Morse Code. Topped off with beautiful piano playing from Bruce (the singer began learning the instrument when he won one in a recent raffle) it’s very much his masterpiece and closes this ambitious and often spell-binding opus in style.