A great return to form

Having been disappointed in the previous two albums, I was wary about this album before it's release. Having followed Iron Maiden for 41 years, I didn't want my favourite band to end with a whimper.

My first encounter with this album was 'The Writing on the Wall' and my primary hope was that Bruce's voice didn't sound too strained, as it had on the previous two albums. In that regard, I was left undecided. His voice did sound a little strained in places, but it was nothing like as bad as it had been on TBOS. Furthermore, this was a really good song, with a strong melody and a very catchy chorus. In many ways it was a bit of a musical departure for Maiden but I loved the fact that even after all these years, they were still trying new things. The thing that really floored me, and still does, is Adrian's solo. What he plays here is simply stunning and is quite possibly my favourite solo from any Maiden album. There was certainly enough here to make me want to listen to more.

Next up came Stratego and this is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Bruce's singing is fantastic, the song is very melodic and catchy and the whole thing just really works perfectly. I absolutely love this song and at this point I was greatly encouraged. The early signs were good that this would be another great album and Bruce's voice was sounding better than it had in years. I was now waiting very impatiently for Senjutsu to be released.

I won't do a song by song critique here, but after 41 years of following the band through all their many ups and occasional downs, I will say that this is a stunningly good album. There are a lot of great tracks here, so finding fault is extremely difficult. If I had to pick weaknesses, I'd say that Death of the Celts isn't brilliant. It's a good song, but it reminds me too much of The Clansman without being anything like as good as that song. I'd also say it's far too long. I prefer The Parchment as a song, but again I'd say it's too long. I think I would have preferred it if both of these songs, and especially Death of the Celts, had been trimmed so that the album would go onto one CD. Other than these minor complaints, I really can't find fault here. Every other song is excellent and Hell on Earth is an absolute masterpiece that ranks right up alongside the best in Maiden's history. The music here is filled with light and shade, it has melody in abundance, the playing is top drawer and the songwriting is amongst the finest they have ever done.

It's easy to get overly enthusiastic about a new album, but I've listened to this a lot now and I would rank this album very high in their catalogue. In many ways, Senjutsu reminds me of SSOASS. That album didn't have the classic tracks of other albums of that era, but it was the culmination of everything they had been working towards since The Number of the Beast and in that regard, SSOASS was the pinnacle of their achievements to that point. Senjutsu feels similar to me. Since BNW they have been developing the three guitar sound and moving in a more Prog Rock direction, and this album is the culmination of that journey. There have been great albums along the way, but this, for me, is the second great pinnacle of achievement in their history. It's a big claim, but I really think that this is their SSOASS moment of the reunion era. I'm going to have a serious rethink about my ranked order of Iron Maiden albums now, but I suspect that Senjutsu is going to end up very high indeed. I've been with Iron Maiden from the very first album, back when I was just 16 years old in 1980. Iron Maiden changed my life and their music has given me a great deal of pleasure, satisfaction and joy. I don't want them to stop, but realistically, time waits for no man and we have to be realistic that this may be their last album. They aren't young men anymore, all being in their sixties, and Nicko will be 70 next year. How much longer can he realistically play drums for a band like Iron Maiden? This could sadly be the end for Iron Maiden now, but if it is, I am pleased they have been able to end on an album that is one of the best they have ever done, and arguably, could very well be the best album of them all.
 

Belenor

Trooper
I'm with you - I was afraid of another weak album after TBOS, but the singles sounded promising and now that I have heard the whole album multiple times, I agree it could be trimmed here and there, but in overall, pretty good result. If it is their last, then what an end, right? The great thing is I do not feel the urge to skip a track, which is not true with other albums.
 

GhostofCain

Ancient Mariner
I might need to listen to the album more, but so far I do not find it better than TBOS (which I quite liked) or AMOLAD (which is in my top 5 of Maiden albums).
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I might need to listen to the album more, but so far I do not find it better than TBOS (which I quite liked) or AMOLAD (which is in my top 5 of Maiden albums).
For me, TBOS and BNW are the real contenders it has to go through. I love AMOLAD but I find it slightly overrated by the fanbase even though I recognize why they rate it so highly. Discounting Senjutsu at the moment, it probably is my third favorite of the reunion albums.

The problem with Senjutsu is that freshness factor, coupled with both its uniqueness and career retreads. I feel like I haven’t finished digesting it yet, but that’s okay. I’m enjoying it immensely, and that alone gives it the potential to eclipse a lot of Maiden’s past works.
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
I would say it is very hard to judge new music when it first comes out. You either like it or you don't, and if you like it, the freshness factor makes it so hard to determine where it really lies.

When I was young and Dance of Death first came out, I'd have said it was the best album ever. Same with TFF. And both of those are low in my personal rankings now. Meanwhile, AMOLAD, which I was hesitant about at first, is clearly way the hell up there. A top three album. TBOS has settled in my upper-mid, maybe around 6? And that's pretty good.

Now, let's get excited for the new music.
 
I would say it is very hard to judge new music when it first comes out. You either like it or you don't, and if you like it, the freshness factor makes it so hard to determine where it really lies.

When I was young and Dance of Death first came out, I'd have said it was the best album ever. Same with TFF. And both of those are low in my personal rankings now. Meanwhile, AMOLAD, which I was hesitant about at first, is clearly way the hell up there. A top three album. TBOS has settled in my upper-mid, maybe around 6? And that's pretty good.

Now, let's get excited for the new music.
You're absolutely right and this is very much on my mind. There's also the fact that I was so disappointed in the last two albums that my surprise that this one is so good is making overestimate its real value. It's amazing how differently people see albums. For me, the only albums worse than TBOS are NPFTD, FOTD and VXI.
 

naranja

Educated Fool
You're absolutely right and this is very much on my mind. There's also the fact that I was so disappointed in the last two albums that my surprise that this one is so good is making overestimate its real value. It's amazing how differently people see albums. For me, the only albums worse than TBOS are NPFTD, FOTD and VXI.
TFF is the worst
 

Gk1

Here I sit in a serenade of glory!
I quite fancy FOTD tbh. NPFTD too. But let's not turn this to a ranking thread, there are sevaral other ones to do so.
 

karljant

Ancient Mariner
I hear you on that, it's not great at all. On my own ranking I have:

17. NPFTD
16. FOTD
15. VXI
14. TBOS
13. TFF

On some days I might place VXI a bit higher as in many respects it's better than TBOS but the endless repetition means I just can't listen to much on that album.
Curious... it's a pretty similar bottom rank to mine (with a great exception):

17. FOTD
16. VXI
15. BNW
14. NPFTD
13. TBOS
12. TFF

I really dislike half the songs on FOTD (with special focus on WL,FHTE, FITK,WW), Hooks In You, The Angel And The Gambler, Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger, When Two Worlds Collide or Shadows Of The Valley. Then there are songs that IMO have great ideas but are seriously tarnished by serious repetition or structural weirdness. Brave New World and Dream Of Mirrors are perhaps the best examples. The Man Of Sorrows also bears that mark and even songs that are good such as Ghost Of The Navigator and The Red And The Black seem to be written in a rush and could be much better. Then there's stuff that sounds to me as half baked like Speed Of light, The Fugitive, The Apparition, Chains of Misery, The Assassin or The Mercenary.

But to be honest TFF is already a really good album IMO because it lacks these kind of passages: songs I think are either boring, forgettable fillers or even straight up ugly. It's a really well balanced record in that regard as so are the ones above them (although some of them have some songs I really consider skippable but they are so few I can name them by memory alone. When it comes to what I consider to be fillers we have Gangland and New Frontier and when it comes to songs I really dislike there's Age Of Innocence and Quest For Fire. That leaves us with 9 albums that IMO haven't got a single skippable track: their debut, Killers, Powerslave, Somewhere In Time, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, The X Factor, A Matter Of life And Death, The Final Frontier and... you guessed it: Senjutsu. And that's the point I wanna make... how well balanced the record is.

Now I don't rank it as high as you do but I give huge props to solid albums and Senjutsu is indeed rock solid. Of course I prefer some of the albums I mentioned before which feature one or two songs stinkers when compared with Senjutsu. Two examples are The Number Of The Beast or even more blatantly Piece Of Mind that happens to be my 4th favorite album from their entire discography since the majority of the songs are so good (some of them almost perfect like Revaltions, Still Life, the Trooper or even To Tame A Land and Where Eagles Dare) that one stinker is almost unnoticed among so many greatness. Nevertheless Senjutsu is one of those albums that I can easily listen from beginning to end. And Maiden managing that deep in their 60's is simply mind blowing.
 
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