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Review: Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls
Iron Maiden
The Book of Souls

Label: Parlophone Records
Year released: 2015
Duration: 1:32:15
Tracks: 11
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: September 12, 2015
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
The Book of Souls

Rated 4.15/5 (82.96%) (81 Votes)

I've been listening to The Book of Souls, the 16th full-length from British legends Iron Maiden, non-stop for the last several days. I wanted to make sure to give it a fair shake as I've not felt like the albums the band has released since Bruce Dickinson returned in 1999 have been all that great but that opinion has changed with The Book of Souls. Musically, the band is in top form. Maiden have never been about hitting fans over the head with their talent. They can all play but the songs have always come first, a formula you'd think more bands would try to adopt. To my ears there is warmth to The Book of Souls that elevates it above albums like Dance of Death, A Matter of Life and Death or Brave New World. Those records sounded like sterile, digital creations whereas The Book of Souls sounds like a BAND.

The Book of Souls contains over 90 minutes of music so you can be sure almost anything you've enjoyed hearing Iron Maiden do in the past is represented. You've got speedy rockers like "Speed of Light" and "Death or Glory," tales of inner struggles on "Tears of a Clown" and "Man of Sorrows" and lengthy, epic and historical journeys recounted on "The Red and the Black" and the longest song of Maiden's career, "Empire of the Sun." It is clear that everyone brought their A-game to the writing table (with the exception of drummer Nicko McBrain who did not contribute) and there are no weak tracks despite the album's great length. No greater testament to the songwriting can be that listening to The Book of Souls doesn't feel like an hour and a half. Every individual performance sounds great and the Kevin Shirley production makes sure every instrument has room to breathe and be heard. My gripe with this effort is one that has plagued Iron Maiden since Bruce returned and that is they get into these ruts where they repeat a riff about twice as many times as they need to and it gets to the point where I want to shout "move on!". Nowhere is this more evident than on the two longest tracks "The Red and the Black" and "Empire of the Sun." It occurs at the end of the former and before the solos on the latter. Each song could be at least two minutes shorter and suffer not one bit. Oh, and they recycled the opening riff from "Wasted Years" on "Shadows of the Valley."

At the end of each listen I was left knowing that The Book of Souls is an excellent release from a band that has been at the top of the Heavy Metal heap for a long time and shows no signs of giving up their perch.

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