Iron Maiden: Brave new world
14/09/09 || Smalley
It’s rare to see a band roar back so hard after such a long period of middling-ness, but Iron Maiden did so on “Brave new world”; it seems kicking (shudder) Blazely out and bringing Bruce/Adrian back from the former’s solo adventures was just what the band needed, as “world” is a great rebound from “No prayer” and “Fear of the dark”, not to mention from the crushing lameness of the Blazely albums. And I truly believe getting Adrian back here was almost as important as Dickinson’s return, if not as important, since both “No prayer” and “Fear” had inconsistent songwriting that even Bruce’s presence couldn’t fix (though he didn’t help when he started to snarl; you ain’t Dave Mustaine!). So, by bringing back a great vocalist and a great songwriter from the past, Maiden radically reversed course, and produced a triumph with “Brave new world”. Yeah, that’s a big cliché, but one I’m willing to use for this album, and explain just why with my review…
“The wicker man” feels like a celebration song, which makes perfect sense, considering it’s the first time in a long time we’re hearing Bruce, Harris, Dave, Adrian, and Nicko playing together. Oh yeah, and there’s Gers too, but fuck him, he was in crappy 90’s Maiden (kidding, kidding). Anyway, “man” has an extremely enjoyable energy, with Bruce sounding much more tuneful than on his previous two Maiden records, and Steve Harris’s fat bass sounding just great. The riffing is a bit too rock ‘n roll-y, and the track’s big solo feels too restrained, but it’s a good opener nonetheless. “Ghost of the navigator” is a pretty melancholic follow-up to that, but still retains the energetic tempo, and has a very emotional chorus/vocalwork, and a solo that truly lets loose this time. Nice.
The title track then takes us through a brilliantly methodical build-up for the first two minutes, and once the chorus starts, the guitar work/Bruce’s vox are almost strong enough to overcome how damn repetitive the lyrics are (I like Maiden as much as the next guy, but they sure can write some boring choruses sometimes). Still, really good song. “Blood brothers” has beautiful, brilliant use of orchestra instrumentation, which perfectly fits the thoughtful, self-contemplative mood of the lyrics. Yeah, the chorus is repetitive again, but again, everything else is good enough for me to (mostly) ignore that.
Up next is our first leftover composition from “Virtual XI”, “The mercenary”. And, it does somewhat clash with the album prior to this point, by being blunter, lacking the musical grace (if you know what I mean) of the previous four tracks, so, a harder song to enjoy. I still like it, but it’s one of the lesser songs of the record. The epic “Dream of mirrors” is another song left off “Virtual”, and lemme say, had Blaze sung this, it definitely would’ve been another disappointing offering from that era of Maiden; it really, really relies on the vocalist a great deal. Fortunately, Blaze isn’t singing here, Dickinson is, and his strong chords make “Dream” that much better than it would’ve been.
“The fallen angel” is a driving, inspiring number that may be the most entertaining song here, and while “The nomad” (yet another song left from “Virtual”) is overlong, drags somewhat, and is the least-catchiest track on “World”, it’s at least still decent. And since we’ve gotten it out of the way, the album is only gonna get better as we enter the very last stretch…
“Out of the silent planet” and “The thin line between love and hate” close “World” out, with the former having a wonderfully triumphant tone to it (similar to “The wicker man”), and the latter, a satisfyingly mature rumination over right and wrong, a perfect fit for a band that’s been around as long as Maiden has (though it’s another track that lasts too long, refusing to die when it easily could’ve; oh well). While I do think it would make more sense to have “Out” and “Line” switch track ordering, since it always sounds more natural whenever I play them in reversed order, it’s no biggie. By the way, at the end of “Line”, if you turn up the volume after the drums die off, you can hear Nicko reacting to some drum mistake he made (I’m assuming), when he says “Aw, I fucking missed it!”.
Well, Nicko, it doesn’t sound to me like you missed anything, and the same goes for the rest of Maiden here; you guys all sound great on “Brave new world”, and wrote great songs as well, creating a very invigorating album (one of my top three favorite of your career, in fact). While the next two Maiden records weren’t anywhere near this one, it’s still nice to see the band together after all this time, and, despite what Dickinson himself sung a long time ago (on a song that, appropriately enough, Adrian Smith wrote), there is a brave new world, and it kicks ass.
- Released: 2000
- Label: EMI
- Website: www.ironmaiden.com
- Bruce Dickinson: vocals
- Steve Harris: bass, keyboard
- Dave Murray: lead and rhythm guitar
- Adrian Smith: lead and rhythm guitar
- Janick Gers: lead and rhythm guitar
- Nicko McBrain: drums
- 01. The Wicker Man
- 02. Ghost of the Navigator
- 03. Brave New World
- 04. Blood Brothers
- 05. The Mercenary
- 06. Dream Of Mirrors
- 07. The Fallen Angel
- 08. The Nomad
- 09. Out Of The Silent Planet
- 10. The Thin Line Between Love And Hate