C O L U M N S
Tales from the Jugular
Iron Maiden and Eddie Are Neutered--A Beastly Rant!
I almost hate myself for having to write this. After procrastinating procrastination of the most dreaded task I've ever had to face in the written word, this is my moral obligation as both a critic and a fan.
Tis official now--Iron Maiden are actually a tribute band to themselves! And as they painfully try to write and play the part(s) like Iron Maiden, they sadly cannot. This is Iron Maiden 33 years old--out of shape and out of original thought almost like Alzheimer patients but without any flashing memories of the past.
There is only on Iron Maiden. Actually there are five Iron American "Maidens" who kick balls better by breast feeding this British band because babies beget the babies they've become. They need to be nursed back to life apparently.
I will just rip the band-aid off backward here: Final Frontier is their worst release in their entire career. Not only is it that bad but the three strike you're out rule was mulliganed in wait for a new hope. While all the right players are there, the career defining brilliant technicality simply will not translate into good songwriting anymore. After four releases that even Lizzy Borden wouldn't put their stamp on, this IS NOT Iron Maiden. They have willingly donated their passion and heart for the large paychex to fill that void.
For the hardliners who disagree out of history, believe me I have taken history into account, but this is one mystery that's been haunting us silently right before our ears for the last ten years. I still I bought the cd, but now only for my collection, not for repeated enjoyable listening. I will not apologize for choosing HGTV over listening to another new goddamn Iron Maiden cd. This release makes No Prayer For the Dying look like Killers. And we all know that's not possible.
Spinning Final Frontier relentlessly to find anything memorable or redeeming is draining and depressing me. I just can't see past the lies. While revisiting Brave New World (2000), Dance of Death (2003) and A Matter of Life and Death (2006) I was hoping after a four year holiday this would be their final frontier. These rumors preceded the album, but of course I wanted so hard to believe that they woke from their Caveman Coma.
I love Iron Maiden. I love everything they stand for and have loyally blown my own breath into the giant floating Eddie doll since forever. I will always support and salute the name and legacy of Iron Maiden, but I cannot and hence will not understand or trust them from now on. That fucking hurts to say.
The invasive velocity of the beast pulls your boots off and fits them perfectly into the hauntingly evil charm of slower epics. Up the irons is about a surprisingly pleasant self-inflicted assault on the temporal lobe overflowing from the bloody decibel overload in your ears!
But here we finally are--once a giant in a world where killers once roamed the earth with piece of mind that somewhere in time they would be free men playing with madness. Not the case, sorry kids.
If you don't know the NWOBHM history of this band or are younger than 30 you wont appreciate my review or the measuring stick I use for bands of legendary status. I can't waste my time with the details of history but I still do. Damn It!
Pioneering the way for British steel and using the strong arm of the law they punched their way into American charts and hearts. Maiden's impacting debut in '77 featured the punk/metal crowd favorite vocals of Paul D'ianno. The S/T album and the follow up Killers in '80 had a definite and integral place in the New Wave of British Metal crossing the seas.
Actually, I just thought of a great idea for their next album. A concept album about the Mayflower and the love, hate and other emotions of travelers waiting for the promise of their brave new world--tax free that is. HA!
So, the band punked out Paul and baited Bruce Bruce from Samson, (a very confused Seventies rock band led by guitarista Paul Samson).
1982. The result--Number of the Beast. Today it is still critically acclaimed as a blueprint for incredibly crafted heavy metal. Press, religious groups and fans alike will never turn away from this Biblical epic. Around the world all sides proclaimed this is exactly the kind of album our community had been waiting for. Every standard since has been used to rank them and other genre bands. The trend also set in as a quickly arranged new wave (be quick or be dead) of Euro meddlers tried to one up each other--Grim Reaper, Victory, Praying Mantis, Michael Schenker, Yngwie, Helloween etc. spent wasted years never learning how to master the flight of Icarus. Sure it made for great entertainment and fodder for the real deal, but it just wasn't the real deal, there was no other Iron Maiden.
Over the years many a European band have cited them along with Priest, Sabbath, Purple, Venom, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond and many others as one of the reasons for learning to play. Along with the bands listed above, these and other similar muses internalized the dark, hateful emotions of heavy metal and rerouted it into the hateful sounds of raw thrash.
Eventually this chemical wedding gave birth to the evilution of what we know now as "black metal." Scandinavia is largely responsible for the last ten years of a new excitingly evil, fast, thrashy cookie monster sound dedicated to Lord Satan. If you want, they will take you to hell with them. That's the real value of these bands, they have the power but, they do have the force. They play by the rules of ruins by freewill. That's what makes them real. And after this decade of lies from Iron Maiden I do feel like I am in Hell.
Maiden logged in eight years, 8 studio releases and a few live and greatest hits with ole Bruce Bruce from '82 to '92. The cracks started to appear in '90 within the iron wall protecting them as they drank beer and played soccer with the still alive and well head of Vinnie Price. As No Prayer For the Dying commenced it was obvious to everyone that the maniac wasn't content anymore. That was until Dickinson landed his plane and dropped every one off, fueled up and left for Banshee Beach to attempt solo surfing.
During their official separation from '92 until '00, Bruce started one hell of a relationship with international superstar songwriter, guitarist and producer Roy Z. I guess you have to use an initial for your last name if you are cool, like Gus G. or Tracy G. Well, let's forget Tracy G! Initial or not, Roy reanimated Dickinson as a controversial solo personality to be scared of the way Maiden used to make us feel.
From 1990 until 2005 Bruce released 6 studio solos, 2 live records and a greatest hits. However a MAJOR point here is his attention given to his debut Tattooed Millionaire in '90, shortly after recording No Prayer with Maiden. You can trace the downfall of all of Maiden indirectly right here. Dickinson made another life altering fault by not having the foresight or just being arrogant. It was made to sound Hollywood and Vine and to fit into a category Maiden with or without Bruce would refuse. I understand where he was going by pointing out the absurdity by being absurd, but not many others did. In fact by all means it looked as if Dickinson had sold out by making fun of exactly what he had become--a joke.
And now years later they are all laughing their quid to mum's mattress. Like a drug addict hiding behind his smile that you are his next mark, smoke and mirrors are all we are gonna get now folks. Smoke and Mirrors for $250 a ticket. This is exactly what motivates real Tattooed Millionaires. When a son of a gun like the almighty judge Bruce Dickinson condemns Vince Neil for waking up every morning, having a drink and going joy riding, then good for Vince! At least he doesn't hide behind a big haunted house-looking reject prop. Oh that hurt too!
After learning his lesson in Hollywood, Bruce returns to the beast with Fear of the Dark in '92 bringing guitarist Janick Gers (Ian Gillan) from Tattooed Millionaire for his final curtain call. A concerned public ate the album up. The songs were indeed pretty damn good songs to boot like punchy bad motor scooters ready to roll over your speakers. This was a sigh of relief to have Bruce behind the mic again. However, as Janick entered, Adrian Smith exited, who with Dave Murray and Steve Harris developed Iron Maiden. This should have been the last Iron Maiden LP to respectfully wrap up their career.
Shoulda, coulda, and woulda.
Adrian kept himself busy with his ASAP cd in '89 and releasing a couple more solo efforts during the following decade.
Yet Dickinson's secret solo recipe grew infinitely stronger than anything Maiden had put out since. His second solo effort, the earthshaking Balls to Picasso in '94 took a bold road and bridged us nicely from Tattooed to his following works. The awkward but beautiful love affair of Skunkworks in '96 saw the unforeseen disappearance of his Balls Band.
Meanwhile, Blaze Bayley (Wolfsbane) was the new unpopular voice during the X Factor '95 and Virtual X in '98. All this bashing wouldn't be cool if I didn't throw a curveball. I actually liked the X Factor. I thought Blaze had the balls where he didn't have the bravado of stage presence. He actually is a very talented singer but just not a good boot to fit in these Brits and their loyal audience.
Now, two words back to Bruce: Roy Z--an incredible Grecian progeny songwriter, guitar player and producer mostly known for his band Tribe of Gypsies. He gave Bruce his voice back for the Balls record and opened his mind and let him search within to find what did and did not scare him and how that motivated him as a person and a singer/songwriter.
Returning to the fold in '97, Roy gathered his vision to what Bruce wanted. They successfully reanimated Bruce once again for an unplanned trilogy of signature blood on Accident of Birth in '97, the truth hell on The Chemical Wedding in '98 and the answer to Maiden's question with Tyranny of Souls in '05 after and during the reunion.
Not to mention, out of smokeless fire rises the mighty Adrian Smith back on the Dickinson detour through damnation! His addition and inspiration made for a brutal tour de force through the Chemical Accident. Bruce had Roy and Adrian whilst Maiden was struggling with the stale songwriting team of all members: Harris, Murray, McBrain, Gers and Bayley. Apparently the hell in Maiden all along was Bruce. You take him out and you take out the only insanity that keeps the band insane.
Strong poundings upward from Hell make for unpredictable and horrifically exciting journeys through his world. You don't wanna leave Hell Land after you compare "the other band of brothers" that had grown embittered by his departure. This attitude and music was suffering the fans. Roy Z, also responsible for putting Halford back on the map, is the very reason Maiden and Priest realigned with Bruce and Rob, respectively. After the war with Virtual X in '98, Adrian left to pursue more solo work. But the formula between Bruce and Roy is unmistakable, scientifically and religiously proven. This is why they continued on Tyranny and will hopefully work together from now on as Bruce carries on the legacy.
Predictably soon, the pressure from the fans dancing with death for the return of the Banshee hit an out of tune note. But that note was unfortunately resonating in my heart and started an arrhythmia that I would gladly ignore if... Ok, 2000, the new century, the Brave New World teaches us harmony and brotherhood. For the first time in almost a decade Dickinson and Smith reunite with Iron Maiden!
They also wisely decided to keep Janick on as he made quite an impression with the fans and the band. Adrian, Dave and Janick were like the Skynard of metal as a 3 piece in one guitar hero. Murray and Smith welcomed Gers as a wonderful balance 'tween the two. So as Bruce and Adrian gave in, this career changing second deal for the beast was signed with the blood of "The Caveman" (appropriately named), who has been a real bugger under the carriage of the beast.
This quadumvirant series of discs are dangerous for kids to play with. It is commonly prescribed for chopping your last bit of coke before your friends come over and fiend. The four great money shot artwork covers and the kids meal inside also provide for a children audience. Hell, even spacemeister Captain Kirk found better frontiers even if he was bangin' green aliens. These last four albums couldn't even yield a greatest hits.
I never saw it coming. Well, I never wanted to see it coming. An easy google search for mediocrity at its best links to Metallica, Queensryche & Iron Maiden as now offenders of the faith. It twists my wires to think this band will leave us on a 180 degree path. They can't stop making shit sandwiches for backstage parties that don't exist anymore. There is no meat left. Everyone grows up and old and changes with it. Cool, but the process of reinvention doesn't include masturbation.
Now in 2011 the not so sacred writings of Steve Harris should be buried deep beneath the dirt at the four corners of the earth--one for each album in the last decade. The technicality will never leave but they didn't walk this one or even call this one in like the others. They "twattered" this one in without conscious of consequence.
Again, I will stand by my cliché forever but Iron Maiden violated the original integrity of their songwriting when they decided to sign their second deal with another man shrouded in secrecy (The new shape of Satan, which Vinnie Price gave warning of in 1982). This time he guised himself in the form of producer Kevin "Caveman" Shirley. I don't even want to know where that nickname came from. Kevin is a very talented producer with an ear mainly made for poppy AOR. He was very influential in bubble gumming Aerosmith and Journey for the new decade, and as a fellow Limey he was honored to destroy Maiden. The only band as of recent he has left alone is Black Country Communion.
Thank you, Kevin. But where the "hell" is Marty Birch when you need him!
In 2000, Iron Maiden finally came out and targeted audiences unexposed to them. Awesome and overdue! A fine choice of an idea to spread the "horns up" sound and mentality, but a poorly and impersonal executed thought process led the way. Why stop kicking round Vinnie? He isn't dead yet! And according to their original calculations they should have never stopped.
Now brought to you by an assortment of Billy Mays approved products, enter Maiden Light--a PG-13, stale watered down MTV and radio-ready version when MTV and the radio still won't accept them! This band had been surviving for so long without, willingly and proudly so why now?
I just can't stay awake...I will die of boredom the longer I listen to these mouth breathers and their last four outputs. This was the band that sold out four nights in a row at the Long Beach Arena back in the day without any radio or video support! All of a sudden now they want to be on American Top of the Pops shit sponsored by Diet Dr. Thunder soda and Blockbuster Blue Boxes!
I don't understand, I thought they were stubborn Brits who had a vision and a destination.
If this brave new frontier is your destination, then I would advise you to make it your final destination. Break the chains on Eddie and let him eat you! That was the reason you had him chained and mocked anyway. Once you went public in '00 that you had captured Eddie, he lost his power to get inside our minds and let us travel to the furthest recesses of solar hell.
Release the Beast Boyz! It's only when he has been captured that people start to forget and stop fearing. He slyly snuck back into the cage after 92 on his own! Now is the time after you have been starving and abusing him. Set him free, set yourselves free and let Eddie rage upon the stage and put the Iron back in the Iron Maiden!
Iron Maiden, hear me--either go out now, quietly before anyone notices, and spin into the Anvil void of obscurity OR, get your shit back together and follow (cuz you can't lead anymore) your peers and release a fucking album worthy of the name Iron Maiden!
Yes you are older. Yes you have to work harder. No you don't have to repeat Number of the Beast. None of you are burn outs like Van Halen or Ozzy but you must be held accountable for your talents. Your musicianship will always agree with me. But it seems the quality of songs you put out now doesn't agree with me in any way.
Once upon a time you reached the top of the mountain. All you wanted to do is spit not caring who it splattered on and which bird you cock blocked. Plain and simple--give us the Iron Maiden who doesn't care about rules or forgiveness. Give us Iron Maiden or give us death! You are not getting old, just older. Instead you are content with soft and comfortable. If so, then drop the anchors of the Mayflower in Lake Flaccid.
IF YOU CAN STILL PLAY IT LIVE, YOU CAN STILL WRITE IT!
And last but not least, get rid of Kevin Shirley. He goes home every night and stands on his bed to kiss his poster of Bruce Fairbairn before he says his prayers like a good boy. Do you really wanna sound like Aerosmith or Journey? WTF!?
You are Iron FUCKING Maiden now sound like it!!!!!!!!!!!
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