Official thread for Final Frontier discussion

After the three previous albums all being impressive in some way, I was looking forward to The Final Frontier with great anticipation, and with good reason. In this album we can see the continuing trend away from Maiden's traditional gallop and towards more Prog-based songs. While I love the Maiden gallop and I hope they always retain it to some degree, I also want bands to evolve and explore new musical boundaries. We have extremely talented musicians here, all of which have been influenced by Prog Rock, so I like that Maiden have increasingly been exploring this approach. This album also brings us the continuation of diverse writing credits and a focus on melody, both of which I appreciate. This album also contains some genuinely impressive songs. The Talisman, The Man Who Would Be King, and When the Wild Wind Blows are all incredible and gives us one of the strongest ends to an album ever. The album also contains one of my absolute favourite Maiden songs in 'The Alchemist' so as I say, there is a hell of a lot to love about this album....... so why do I find this album so frustrating?

In part I think it's because the quality of songs isn't as consistent as I might like, though I appreciate that this is entirely subjective. I don't find Starblind or Mother of Mercy to be that special and I find 'Coming Home' to be somewhat incongruous. It's quite a departure in subject matter for Iron Maiden and always feels like something of an indulgence for Bruce. It's a good enough song, as all of these are, but it's also not a song I ever mind missing.

The main reason I find this album frustrating is, I suspect, the early signs of Bruce's health issues. His voice sounds far more strained on a number of these songs, and in some cases I find it painful to listen to him. I rarely listen to this album because of this, even though I really like the songs. There are some songs on the album I never listen to, even though I love the songs, because I just can't stand hearing Bruce straining so badly. If Bruce had been in full health, I suspect that I would rank this album far higher than I do, but as it stands it's just not an album I listen to unless a song comes up on a random play.
I was wondering today which Maiden album is the biggest departure from the band's sound... *according to Bruce this album is TFF and I agree with him, especially if we take into account the evolution of the band through the albums.

*''The Final Frontier is probably the greatest departure from our sound. It's been happening incrementally since 2000. That's great, after doing it all for this long, to still be figuring stuff out''.
Never played live. Absolutely criminal. I was so looking forward to hearing this live on the TFF tour, to this day I am surprised it's never had an airing.