Ever notice how Steve doesn’t write “riffs” anymore?

naranja

Educated Fool
Warning; thread may seem a little cynical and also gets very slightly into music theory

Remember all the riffs Steve used to write? Damn near every classic Maiden song from the eighties came from Steve’s punchy bass driven riffs. The likes of Wrathchild, Trooper, Aces High, Number of the Beast etc.

Don’t get me wrong, Steve is great and he has done more than enough for metal but has anyone else noticed a trend in his recent songs? I say recent but really this has been since Virtual XI really.

There’s very little “riffs” in them. Sure there’s that intro piece in Red and Black and the cool piratey riff at the end. FTGGOG has one kind of riff in the middle section.

All Steve’s songs “riffs” are simply playing chord sequences (say in E) of E, C, G, D with a ( I think) minor melody over the top.

So unless you count guitar melodies as riffs then every song he does seems to be absent of riffs and rather just noted chord sequences.

Ie a Harris riff nowadays would only ever look like this:

G—————
D—————
A——777777–3333333-55555
E————-

I’m aware maiden have used that chord sequence since the Stone Age but the cynic in me feels like the Harris epic nowadays is simply play a soft intro of E, C,G and D ( or A, F, D, G) using the fifths and octaves. Then the rest of the song is more or less that same chord sequence with a slightly different w minor melody over it and different lyrics.

Mega cynical I know. I just can’t help think that when Steve brings a song in and it’s the same thing again do the guys ever say “these chords again?”

Don’t shoot me I still think they’re great.
 
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phantomoftheicarus

Bleeding Freak
Funny you should write this because I was thinking about this just earlier lol.

It may be because there's no longer any need to write proper riffs anymore. Back in the early days, Steve was a gifted man with plenty of ideas, surrounded by lesser musicians initially with a desire to control the music coming out of the band.

Nowadays, Steve, Adrian and Janick can come up with plenty of great ideas by themselves, Steve has also said he prefers to take a laid back approach, he no longer needs to be so tightly controlling, and perhaps he's simply ran out of 'great' ideas.

But that's just my 2 cents, I don't know much about music theory recently
 

Gk1

Here I sit in a serenade of glory!
He actually wrote a riff on TRATB but it was actually stolen. So yes he does not write riffs anymore. He actually doesn't even harmonize the melodies or even play bass fills of any kind. Just repeated parts for no particular reason. And then most of us in here make masterpieces of these songs.
 

Edington

Let's Get Volatile
I just can’t help think that when Steve brings a song in and it’s the same thing again do the guys ever say “these chords again?”

This did make me chuckle, but the others aren't innocent. What did the rest of the band think when Bruce brought them the choruses to Powerslave (the same chords as Aces High) or If Eternity Should Fail (same as Fear of the Dark)?

To me, Steve's epics put more emphasis on the stories they tell through the lyrics over the music. They've always been less riff driven than his shorter songs, look at songs like Ancient Mariner, Seventh Son or Sign of the Cross - lots of E notes just going dun-da-da-da da-da-da da-da-da *repeat forever*

This has me wondering what an 'Arry-penned rocker what sound like now...
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
Steve is a very formulaic songwriter and always has been. He has a comfort zone, a box that he's willing to stay in. The formula resulted in some phenomenal material. But there's only so much material you can churn out using the same formula. You can only gallop the C-D-E chord progression for so long.

So I agree, Steve's songwriting has become very stale. The guitarists are the creative driving force of the band and I feel like that's been the case since the reunion.
 

Edington

Let's Get Volatile
Also, this isn't a problem unique to Iron Maiden/Steve. AC/DC, Metallica, Motorhead and Judas Priest have all ripped themselves off, just to name a few off the top of my head. I guess when your band has a unique, recognisable sound it's hard to want to stray outside of it.
 

matic22

Ancient Mariner
I have a feeling that when Steve wants to do a bit different song, he simply decides, well, I'll write this song in d-minor instead of the bread and butter e-minor.

And yes, the lack of bass fills is dissappointing. I hope that he would do something like what he does during Powerslave and SIASL solo sections again, but I think chances of that are very slim.

Also:

TRATB: e-minor, whole song
WTWWB: e-minor, whole song
FTGGOG: e-minor, whole song
No More Lies: e-minor, whole song
Blood Brothers: e-minor, whole song
Clansman: e-minor and a-minor

It's been 20 years since Steve has written a song in any other key than e-minor.
 

naranja

Educated Fool
Wasn’t don’t look to the eyes of a stranger in G#?

It was an odd sounding song.

Sometimes I play around with maiden style riffs and think it would be interesting to go between the e c d thing and then to something like a flattened fifth or something Metallica sounding, and then back again. I dunno, I’m not the talented songwriter, Steve is. Would like to see him do something different
 

naranja

Educated Fool
Also the last time Steve really wrote riffs was Sign of the Cross and Blood on the worlds hands (which has almost thrash like riffs in there at one point).

Also since he started strumming so many bass chords (around the early nineties) he basically abandoned bass films other than a few per album st most.
 

naranja

Educated Fool
Wasn’t don’t look to the eyes of a stranger in G#?

It was an odd sounding song.

Sometimes I play around with maiden style riffs and think it would be interesting to go between the e c d thing and then to something like a flattened fifth or something Metallica sounding, and then back again. I dunno, I’m not the talented songwriter, Steve is. Would like to see him do something different
Actually I think stranger was in a
 

Сури Вук

Bring this savage back home
Steve maybe became routine kind of writer, after all, the fact is that after DoD he isn't the dominant songwriter, he shares the same amount of space with Adrian. And it really makes me think that Adrian's and Bruce's departures back in the day were needed, so they could come back with new writing energy which lifted the band again. Also, Adrian improvises a lot, doing some licks and fills, adding some extra flavour to some of the songs (En Vivo).
But, on the other hand, as far as I could judge from some interviews, Steve is the main melody man. When he is co-writer, he writes the melody lines while someone else is the man behind the music in general...
 
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