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Review: Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden
Fear Of The Dark

Label: EMI
Year released: 1992
Duration: 58:31
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 3.25/5

Review online: April 3, 2003
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Fear Of The Dark

Rated 3.75/5 (74.95%) (111 Votes)

I had not listened to this album in a very long time, and had simply forgotten that it was in fact pretty average - memories of the great title track obscuring the... mediocrity (for lack of a better word) of a good half of this album. In fact, my fragmented memory somehow led me to believe that this album was better than its predecessor... Not! I can listen to "No Prayer For The Dying" several times in a row, but this one here gets the boot after two or three consecutive listens. Let's be honest, some of the songs on this album can cure insomnia. The production is quite lifeless (one may wonder if it's a characteristic of the Barnyard Studios) and while a couple of songs still can pull it off on their own, some simply turn into filler material due to the blandness of the sound. It is also the Maiden album whose track listing includes the outlier, the love song "Wasting Love". Oh my... OK it's not a bad song, but maybe it would have fit better on an album with a stronger track listing.

Still, there are a number of pretty good songs here - the first that comes to mind being of course the title track, which has become -with reason- a fans' favourite. The opener "Be Quick or Be Dead" is well-placed, being a short, strong rocker. "From Here to Eternity" is, like "The Fugitive", a pretty good song overall but it is hurt by a chorus that is more annoying than effective (still much better than the one in "The Fugitive", however...) "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" is a pretty good epic, second best after "Fear of the Dark" - lots of time changes, good vocal melodies. "Fear is the Key" had the potential to be a good rocker, but it comes up pretty bland and lifeless here - it's good but it never really takes off. "Childhood's End" is a bit along the same lines but comes out better and has kind of an epic feel to it. "Chains of Misery"... Ugh.. Can you say filler? So bland the only thing I can recall is the -again- annoying chorus. I expect more than this from a band like Maiden. "The Apparition" is more of the same type of torture, hell it can probably be nominated the worst of the album. A slow-paced rocker with an annoying beat, not too inspired.

The album comes back to life with "Judas Be My Guide", an slightly above-average, catchy song with a killer intro (well, I guess any intro will sound killer after suffering through the previous two songs..) "Weekend Warrior" is one that could have fit well on Bruce's first solo album (even though he has no writing credits on it!), the mood of the song is definitely fitting to the material on "Tatooed Millionnaire". This is a mid-paced rocker that's a bit on the mellow side, pretty average but easy-listening. The epic "Fear of the Dark" closes this album in beauty, slightly over 7:16 in length it always ends too quickly. It's definitely the best of the album, sounding much more mature - or I should say ready to be released - than the other songs on the album. It has all the elements of the longer Harris-penned epics, just compressed into a shorter length - I'm not sure the song would have been as good if it had been 2-3 minutes longer - probably not.

Bottom line, this album suffers from too many songs that should either have been b-sides or at least have been worked on more before release. It wasn't a good period for Maiden and it transpires throughout this album. Still enough good songs to justify the purchase. Hey, enough bitching. I'll take a mediocre Maiden album over some of the so-called masterpieces out there any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Whoa... I just realized that I gave more positive comments to the Blaze-era albums. Damn, I need a beer.

Favourites: Fear of the Dark, Afraid to Shoot Strangers, Childhood's End.

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