Countdown to Senjutsu. 17 albums in 17 days.

R@inmaker

Educated Fool
BNW is, hands down, my all-time favorite Maiden album!!! Song-for-song this is just an incredibly strong piece of work. I can't think of a song here that I don't like much...maybe The Nomad is my least favorite...but it has its moments even. The title track is just fantastic and probably my fave track.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
A day late, but only because I had to listen to this one twice...

Brave New World
And just like that, this album has solidified itself as my favorite Maiden record of all time. There is not a single bad song. It is the closest one in the discography that I could call "perfect". Like, sure, The Mercenary, Fallen Angel, and Nomad aren't perfect, but they are to me. The energy present in these recordings is astounding. Bruce sounds the best he's ever sounded and his vocal layers are everywhere! I really miss this on some of the newer material, as the harmonies buried in these songs add so much to the overall sound.

Adrian returns to the fold and, shockingly, is not the star of the show. Yeah, he's great, and The Wicker Man solo is incredible, but the main thing he did upon his return was to force the other guys to up their game. Janick turns in his most inspired songwriting and performing yet, while Davey manages to clock the most amount of solos and write his single best contribution to the band with The Thin Line Between Love and Hate. Nicko is absolutely on fire here: his drumming in Ghost of The Navigator is just godly. Honestly, if there's anyone who takes a backseat here: it's Harris. His bass lines tend to get lost amongst the adjustment to having three guitars, but it's not that much of an issue considering how strong is writing is here.

There is a magic inherent in Brave New World that is present nowhere else in the discography. The production is wonderfully lush and the best they'll ever do from here on out. Brave New World is not so much an album as it is a complete vibe.
 
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Abas

Jester with no tears
I called Virtual XI a very uneven album. Or, to steal Black Bart's joke - Virtual Uneven. But that album isn't their most unbalanced album.

This album, Dance of Death, is their most eneven album. Some songs on this album are mindblowingly good. There wasn't anything really mindblowingly good on Virtual XI. Some songs on this album are forgettable. There wasn't anything really forgettable about Virtual XI. Some songs have me feeling so much for so long. Some songs have me not feeling anything at all. You know?

Let's start this uneven album off with an uneven song - Wildest Dreams. These lyrics about breaking free from ones demons and holding ones head up with a glimmer in the eye sound way unhappy sounding music along with way more of an unenergetic chorus than the song warrants. This is The Assassin level bad for me. Bottom tier Iron Maiden song. Props for that bridge and that solo, though.

Then onwards wo go to Rainmaker - a song with energy and good melodies. Such emotion in this song.

When I used to have this album on rotation back some 10+ years ago, No More Lies was a favourite of mine. Repetitions aside, this song is well arranged. I love that melody at the start as well.

Montségur is a song that wasn't a favourite at all, back some 10+ years ago. It's just in the recent year that I've started thinking that this song isn't as bad as I used to think. I'm bothered with this song for the inverted reason that I'm bothered with Wildest Dreams. This song about cruel slaughter from the crusaders sounds way too happy and cheery than the lyrics should warrant.

When I was discovering Iron Maiden, the song that blew my mind the most was Dance of Death. I credit this song for making me an Iron Maiden fan. This song was having-sex-for-the-first-time levels of release for me when I heard this for the first time. It's been a never-ending love affair with their music since then, and this song in particular.

Then comes a streak of two songs that I don't have anything else to describe with other than a shrug. Then comes a streak of two other songs that leave me mindblown again.

Paschendale is such a jackpot song. Such a riveting and brutal song! No wonder that they went in to the studio after this album and had all of that Paschendale momentum going on with them when they centered the majority of the next album around war and death.

I watch and consume news way too much for anyone who doesn't consider himself to have a political preference, so to say. The lyrics of Face in the Sand catches the feeling of watching fucked up stuff, and stuff as it happens that you just know will go down in the history books, and feeling both bewildered and powerless at the same time. When I tuned into the broadcast from Washington DC when they had gathered in the Congress of the USA to recognize Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election, I tuned in with expectations of seeing people acting like clowns and making fools out of themselves. Instead, there were acts of vandalism, murders, and fear all around. Or just some weeks ago when I woke up one late morning to put on the news until late at night watching live news broadcasts when the Taliban claimed Afghanistan for themselves again. Or when I watch the news and read about a mass shooting or vehicular mass slaughter and think "please not a brown person, please not a brown person, please not a brown person". All in all, it's a great and an evoking song,

I like the vocal line of the chorus in Age of Innocence. The rest of the lyrics sound like something you'd read in a Facebook comment from some +55 years keyboard warrior.

Journeyman is one of those songs that I don't think about often at all. But once it enters my mind, I have a hard time to stop listening to it.

So, yeah. high highs on this album and low lows. Even if it contains some of my favourite songs of Iron Maiden during the current era, it still has to be my least favourite album of this era.
 

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
Dance of Death is a great album.
The highlights are DOD, Face in the Sand and No more Lies.
There aren't any bad songs on this album

The critisims are the cover artwork (no biggie because i'm in it for the music not the drawing) and the brickwalling (but I can't hear it. It's not like deat magnetic where it sounds like its time to buy new speakers.
 

Spaldy

Ancient Mariner
Thoughts on DOD.

  • Ok, the production is a step down from BNW. It's muddier and sloppier.
  • The mastering is bad. Brickwalled within an inch of its life. I've heard the vinyl remaster sounds better but I don't have that. I do have a digital stereo downmix of the DVD-A but for the sake of continuity I opted for my OG CD.
  • The cover is obviously atrocious (not a controversial opinion).
  • Wildest Dreams is a punchy if unremarkable opener.
  • Rainmaker is the best rocker on the album and one of the best of the reunion era.
  • No More Lies! No More Lies! No More Lies! No More Lies! No More Lies! No More Lies! No More Lies! No Mo... fuck sake. Someone should have just said NO MORE!
  • Montségur has one of Maiden's heaviest riffs. The rest of the song can be a bit twee though.
  • DOD is one of their best title tracks. Janick once again killing it with his celtic melodies.
  • GOT is a decent if generic rocker
  • New Frontier could have been on NOTB. It's a half decent throwback to early Maiden but also pretty unmemorable.
  • Paschendale is the big one. A firecracker of a song and the best thing they've done in the reunion era. In fact it could very well be the best IM song ever. Powerful, emotional, searing, epic perfection.
  • FITS starts off well then quickly loses the plot as Nicko can't keep control of the tempo. It's actually funny how the song just keeps getting faster and faster. By the end he's completely given up on those double kick pedals.
  • AOI lets the side down. The riff sounds like 90's Megadeth and the lyrics are copy/pasted from the Daily Mail website. It's the worst song of the reunion era by far. Astonishingly shite.
  • I don't hate Journeyman at all and I think it was a smart move to end on an acoustic number.
As mentioned above, DOD is highly uneven. It has the honour of having the worst and the best song of the reunion era on it. While it's no BNW it's still a (mostly) enjoyable listen. However, it's still the weakest of the post 2000 albums.
 

Powrslave

Prowler
How many great albums start with like 1..2..3..? .Its not the greatest song opener is it, it reeks of cheap trash at the start sadly :( Having said that I don't think DOD is a Dud, some pretty enjoyable music and guitar on it. I should play it more often :)
 
While not as good as Brave New World, Dance of Death is a decent album. It’s got much higher highs and higher lows than some of the lesser albums, but it’s still a bumpy album in terms of quality.

Wildest Dreams is kind of generic. Rainmaker is great! No More Lies is okay. Montsegur is underrated! Dance of Death is AMAZING. Gates of Tomorrow and New Frontier are average. Paschendale is SPECTACULAR. Face in the Sand is solid but could’ve been better. Age of Innocence is fillerish, but kind of interesting musically. Journeyman is a really cool departure from the norm!

See what I mean? Bumpy.

I think better production would have improved this album a lot though. So muddy...

Anyway, this album as a whole feels like a period of experimentation for the band. Props to Nicko for trying his hand at songwriting. They have some in your face rockers, some true epics, and also some songs that missed the mark. I’m glad they made this album. I think of it like Somewhere in Time: a good album, but not fully realized and stuck between two great albums.

I can only hope for a full remix eventually. I'm also glad I listened to this on Spotify so I didn't have to stare at the album cover too much.

Random thought: In Paschendale, the bassline under the harmony guitars starting around 3:30 is basically Tom Sawyer. Not a complaint, just something funny I noticed.
 

DJMayes

Ancient Mariner
Day 14!

I'm going to preface this by saying that I've always considered A Matter Of Life And Death incredibly overrated. I don't think it's bad by any measure, but I think it's closer to the worst reunion album than the best.

The root cause of this is a couple of favourites that I really don't rate - The Legacy and These Colours Don't Run. The former takes 5 minutes for something to catch my interest, and the latter doesn't get there in its near 7 minute runtime.

There are bits of this album I really love though. For The Greater Good Of God is my favourite song here by some measure, and was great to see on LOTB. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns and The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg are gloriously heavy songs of a style Maiden hadn't yet attempted. Lord of Light has a scorching riff, and I think Different World is very solid, if unremarkable.

The Longest Day is a little bit of a disappointment, if only for the fact its chorus lets down an interesting song with a genuinely fantastic instrumental section. I don't have strong opinions on The Pilgrim or Out Of The Shadows; they're both fine but not songs to listen to the album for.
 

Patrick92

Educated Fool
Day 14 finished! A Matter of Life and Death

Great album. Its more consist then Dance of Death. I do think that the fantastic songs on DOD is better though, this album dont really have those heights. But this album dont have the low marks that DOD have.
I really like the album cover and the production is great. Bruce sounds amazing here, just like the two previous albums.
Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, Longest Day, Benjamin Breeg and Good of God are truly amazing. Out of the Shadows is beautiful. Lord of Light is really cool. Legacy is great but not one I often listen to

4/5 for me
 

Michalis

Trooper
AMOLAD is a nice album. I am not a big fan of the production style but there are no fillers in this (similarly BNW). Best song in it is FTGGOG imo. I also like most of the rest.. DW, The Legacy, TROBB, TCDR, LD. 8/10 for me.
 
A Matter of Life and Death.
starring Nicko's drums.
That cover reminds me of a dream I once had.
I recently voted this above Dance of Death, but I was wrong as I prefer Dance.

Love Colours, Breeg and, my favorite, Lord.
Suns and Pilgrim are always enjoyed.
Longest Day has a nice build up and pre-chorus, but a trite chorus and a workman like middle. The whole track feels clunky and I usually skip.
Shadows - 'what purpose to it all?', but the middle's okay.
God has a trite pre-chorus, and I find the whole track a bit naive. Maybe that's the point.
The Legacy is hard to like. It starts great but it doesn't want to give you a tune, almost deliberately trying to put you off. The words are a tiresome bleat too.

These are just nitpicks as it's a great listen on the whole and I'm glad they made it. I'd just skip about half of it.
 
A Matter of Life and Death
Wow. This is one of the best albums this band has ever recorded. It’s really hard to get better than this. In terms of a listening experience, the production, the song order, and the playing is fantastic. I can’t really think of anything to improve upon this album. While it may not have insane high points, the best moments are still something else.


Different World, Out of the Shadows, and Lord of Light are in the first tier of “really good but not quite great” songs. They fit where they go in the order. DW is a good opener and way better than Wildest Dreams. Out of the Shadows and Lord of Light are songs I don’t really go to outside the album, but they bring down the mood and rock hard where needed.

These Colours Don’t Run, The Pilgrim, The Longest Day, and The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg are in my middle tier of songs, the “great but not flawless” songs. TCDR and TLD both suffer a little from repetitive choruses and music, but it doesn’t detract too much. The Pilgrim isn’t the deepest lyrically, but I actually really like this song. It rocks, it’s got that cool Eastern breakdown, and it’s heavy. TROBB is heavy, dark, and menacing. It’s the true standout of this section.

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, For The Greater Good of God, and The Legacy are my “nearly perfect and/or exceptional” tier. BTATS might be my favorite from the album. FTGGOG is amazing. It really takes me on a journey every time, and
I’m glad I saw it live twice on the LOTB Tour.
The Legacy used to be one of my least favorites on the album. Now, it’s one of my favorites. I love how, again, it takes you on a musical journey, albeit a smaller one than FTGGOG.

The production blows DOD out of the water. The drums sound incredible, and Mr. McBrain’s performance is a true standout. This is their most prog album to this point, and I truly believe it’s up there with some of their best 80s output. I may enjoy listening to some of the “lesser” albums more than this one, but it’s sheer quality and consistency has put it in my top 4 albums by Maiden.
 

MindRuler

Found in a lost world
AMOLAD is together with BNW and TFF my favourite of the reunion era. I really hope Senjutsu will be as good as any of these three.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Dance of Death
This is another one of Maiden's "Mixed Bag" records, aka Killers, Number of the Beast, and Fear of the Dark. It contains some absolutely cracking, classically brilliant material and a whole bunch of poorly constructed filler. Let's talk about the good: Paschendale is one of the best songs ever. No More Lies is astounding. Rainmaker and the title track are both pretty awesome. Everything else lives directly in filler zone for one reason (or many) or another.

Wildest Dreams is boring. It's fine, but boring. Montsegur starts out with the best music ever, with incredible riffs and vocal melodies, and then turns to absolute utter shit after the chorus (a part that is repeated frequently!) until the end. The major key part in this song makes me hate it almost as much as Invaders, but the good parts are far superior. This same thing happens with Gates of Tomorrow, Age of Innocence, and New Frontier. Major key is not Maiden's strong suit. Face in the Sand and Journeyman are both really cool, and experimental, but both use a single trick for the majority of their duration and get pretty boring.

Overall, I applaud the bands efforts at experimenting that occur here, but so much of the songwriting and performing seem a bit slipshod (except Nicko who slays this one). Poor transitions and odd musical choices abound and they drag down the overall quality. When the quality is there, though, it's incredibly powerful.
 

R@inmaker

Educated Fool
A day late, but only because I had to listen to this one twice...

Brave New World
And just like that, this album has solidified itself as my favorite Maiden record of all time. There is not a single bad song. It is the closest one in the discography that I could call "perfect". Like, sure, The Mercenary, Fallen Angel, and Nomad aren't perfect, but they are to me. The energy present in these recordings is astounding. Bruce sounds the best he's ever sounded and his vocal layers are everywhere! I really miss this on some of the newer material, as the harmonies buried in these songs add so much to the overall sound.

Adrian returns to the fold and, shockingly, is not the star of the show. Yeah, he's great, and The Wicker Man solo is incredible, but the main thing he did upon his return was to force the other guys to up their game. Janick turns in his most inspired songwriting and performing yet, while Davey manages to clock the most amount of solos and write his single best contribution to the band with The Thin Line Between Love and Hate. Nicko is absolutely on fire here: his drumming in Ghost of The Navigator is just godly. Honestly, if there's anyone who takes a backseat here: it's Harris. His bass lines tend to get lost amongst the adjustment to having three guitars, but it's not that much of an issue considering how strong is writing is here.

There is a magic inherent in Brave New World that is present nowhere else in the discography. The production is wonderfully lush and the best they'll ever do from here on out. Brave New World is not so much an album as it is a complete vibe.
Totally agree on the production on BNW being the best they ever did and probably ever will. Right before the ubiquity of ProTools and their comeback success was not ensured so they and Kevin *really* put the effort it and it shows (sounds?). Your term "lush" definitely applies. It just feels full-bodied (like a good beer) and totally balanced. Cannot say enough about the sonics of this album!
 

R@inmaker

Educated Fool
Dance of Death
This is another one of Maiden's "Mixed Bag" records, aka Killers, Number of the Beast, and Fear of the Dark. It contains some absolutely cracking, classically brilliant material and a whole bunch of poorly constructed filler. Let's talk about the good: Paschendale is one of the best songs ever. No More Lies is astounding. Rainmaker and the title track are both pretty awesome. Everything else lives directly in filler zone for one reason (or many) or another.

Wildest Dreams is boring. It's fine, but boring. Montsegur starts out with the best music ever, with incredible riffs and vocal melodies, and then turns to absolute utter shit after the chorus (a part that is repeated frequently!) until the end. The major key part in this song makes me hate it almost as much as Invaders, but the good parts are far superior. This same thing happens with Gates of Tomorrow, Age of Innocence, and New Frontier. Major key is not Maiden's strong suit. Face in the Sand and Journeyman are both really cool, and experimental, but both use a single trick for the majority of their duration and get pretty boring.

Overall, I applaud the bands efforts at experimenting that occur here, but so much of the songwriting and performing seem a bit slipshod (except Nicko who slays this one). Poor transitions and odd musical choices abound and they drag down the overall quality. When the quality is there, though, it's incredibly powerful.
Generally agree but this album grows on you. Yes, Paschendale and Rainmaker are light years ahead of the pack bc they are well-edited and pack a punch, one at a long length (but no fat) and one just a short ridiculously catchy "pop" song. All the other songs have issues with content or editing to me. But Face In The Sand is freaking awesome once you get past the (tiring) long intro. This album is a solid 8/10 for me bc of the strength of the highlights and a lot of really good ideas. They just needed a stronger editing arm and there's some noise/distortion in mix that could be cleaned up. And the cover.....(sigh)...talk a killer concept completely undermined by the execution for well-known but still shocking reasons!
 
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