01) Satellite 15…The Final Frontier 8:40
Clocking in at a huge 8 minutes, one would expect lots of firepower from this one considering that it’s the title track. The song starts with a tribal-esque beat, humming bass and proceeds to a spaced echoey verse. It lacks a certain finesse that one would expect from the grandfathers of prog-metal, but nevertheless only real Maiden fans will understand the need of 4 minutes of spacey experimental music.
THEN COMES THE RIFF! \m/ total nostalgia and great vocals make a jumpstart from an aimless void. The song basically talks about a man facing a great threat to his life and is nearing his death. Chorus is slightly uninspiring cos of the repetitiveness.
Verdict: 7 ½ /10. Needs much better structure, even in experimentalism.
02) El Dorado 6:49
The song takes off from where Final Frontier ends…and it starts well with a smattering of riffery and those horse-trot like drums. ***y! The song is definitely got the worth to buy itself a slot on the album, but as a single IMHO it lacks guns in comparison to those from more recent Maiden albums like Brave New World. I guess the missing factor is that we cant feel the three guitarists Murray, Gers and Smith at once! Its like one fella is sitting waiting for his turn all the while, and it makes the song feel somewhat less ‘heavy’.
Verdict: 8 ½ /10. Maiden fans must enjoy this, but this really doesn’t count as classic material.
03) Mother Of Mercy 5:20
Power ballad! Candles in the air! Slow groove with excellent riffs and great melody. Their attention to melody is definitely worth appreciating. The lyrics appeal to me here. The song is well written and has the grit of calling itself an essential Maiden song.
Verdict: 8/10. Somehow I cant find that spine chilling sensation of other classic Maiden songs.
04) Coming Home 5:52
Power ballad 2! This is going like a nostalgic trip into the classic years. It has the feel of Children of The Damned and Blood Brothers, two of my favourite ballads. Seamlessly flowing melody. Great listen on the album.
Verdict: 8/10 for déjà vu value :D
05) The Alchemist 4:49
The song starts with a twin lead lick and goes into the hurried pace seen once in The Trooper or Run To The Hills. Guitar solos (THE ORIGINAL TWIN ATTACK!) on this track is pure insane & classic. The song is overall nice.
06) Isle of Avalon 9:06
The song builds up with my expectations. It slowly gains some momentum and runs into this lovely muscular verse. The pattern is vaguely familiar, yet has a freshness quotient to it. Landscaping applied here is something grand, something like the epic Hallowed Be Thy Name or Flight of Icarus. But overall outcome isn’t that kind of magnum opus either.
Verdict: 8/10. Its kinda annoying they’re all nice but nothing strikes out really.
07) Starblind 7:48
The songs are unusually soft! It lacks a kind of frenzied energy Maiden songs are famous for. I guess that’s old age settling in and a conscious effort to sound different too. Traditional style of structuring a song is done away with here and they’ve tried lots of incorporating new elements.
08) The Talisman 9:03
The song is extremely mellow with full, rich sounding acoustic work. Extremely folksy, and then kicks off into some real heavy stuff! The sudden change is more than welcome. Soaring vocals are my favourite parts of a Maiden song, and this one is total sing-along type. Thoroughly enjoyable and memorable.
Verdict: 8 ½ /10 this song really appealed to me!
09) The Man Who Would Be King 8:28
Starts off with an almost Metallica’s ‘Sanatarium’ feel to it! Fine leadwork, and good riffs here and there that make you fill in the air-drum rolls
The song needs some crazy out of control lead runs. That’s Janick Gers department (sorry Adrian I have always been biased on this one :P) and I kinda am missing Gers in this song.
Verdict: 7 ½ /10
10) Where The Wild Wind Blows 11:01
And the finale is the epic humongous odyssey called Where The Wild Wind Blows. The song starts with a very beautiful melody on guitar and Bruce sings along to it. That just hit the sweet spot :D and a tension builds. Momentum is maintained in a great verse, and the tune is pure magic! The lead guitar work is (or rather ARE) equally splendid. Engaging song, to say the least. Best album closer I have heard in quite a while unlike the usual filler people make do with.
Verdict: 8 ½ /10. I like it!
OVERALL VERDICT: 8/10
The album is great, mind you. It just lacks certain punch here and there. For core Maiden fans open to new, fresher songs, this is a must. For purists of classic albums, this may not seem as great, but that’s just being unjust. You just can’t go recreate a classic album. They have tried well at being their usual splendid self, but are eventually somewhat of a subdued heavy metal band now.
The entire album is like hearing a story of heroes and villains and grand plots and schemes and victory, salvation et cetera. Its essentially great storytelling in an incredibly melodic prog-rock format, and has gone several notches better than the last few albums. If they are to retire on this album, I’d say that’s quite a closer. They sound great as always if not miraculously 2xplatinum.
I don’t expect any standalone singles would rule any chart whatsoever, but the album is definitely going into every true Maiden fan’s hands. Up The Irons!
Where The Wild Wind Blows