Senjutsu's album review (song by song and overall)

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
teddy.jpg

Iron Maiden
Senjutsu
(2021)

I remember when The Book of Souls came out because it was the year I first really got into metal. I remember the hype around it, "Speed of Light" was played on SiriusXM, Bruce's cancer battle was a shock, all that stuff. But I wasn't actively following what the band was doing because I had only just gotten into them, and it would be a year or two before I actually heard all their material in full. So the run-up to Senjutsu was the first time I actually got to experience the Iron Maiden album hype personally. What a great marketing campaign that was. So mysterious and then to finally hear a new Maiden song drop was magical. Even if 'getting' that song took a few spins.

The album itself also needed some time to digest. There's a lot of moments on here that are derivative of the band's previous work and that was what hit me a lot on my first few listens. But as time goes on, the more and more you get these songs as unique entities of their own. What they cannibalize from their own discography becomes a cool nod more than a blatant re-write of past material.

It certainly doesn't hurt that this is an incredibly consistent album from the boys. Right off the bat, the tracklist is assembled superbly. Every song plays off the ones that come before and after. We're opening with a slow and heavy number? Gotta follow that with a burst of speed. Through in an epic on track 4? Let's dash in the shortest song we've written in fifteen years. Is everyone jumping to "The Time Machine"? Let's lower the energy with a big ballad. It works so effectively. You may think that the Steve trio at the end would be the undoing of this, but actually that's where it becomes clear that Steve's intros and outros are necessary for the monsters he writes. They make each song feel self-contained even within the scope of the album. Fantastic. And these outros flow into the intros super well. A favorite example of mine is how the sound of the sea from "Darkest Hour" fades just as a Celtic morning dawns in "Death of the Celts". That's beautiful.

Speaking of "Darkest Hour", that's my least favorite song here and yet I still really enjoy it when it comes on, particularly due to the way it fits into the album (and of course the performances are all great on that one). Every track here is necessary to the bulk of the whole. People complain that Maiden can't write short records and songs anymore, but I'm just happy that we get so much material to enjoy from them, even if it's been six years of waiting in the meantime. The more the merrier to me.

The band's shorter songs here are actually among the highlights, which hasn't always been the case with their 21st century releases. "Stratego" is a nice injection of energy after the opening title track; "Days of Future Past" has a jaw-dropping chorus; and "The Writing on the Wall" is among the most perfect rockers that the band have done. Then you have the longer tracks like "Senjutsu" (so intense) and "The Time Machine" (a fantastic barnstormer) which take things to the next level.

But the real make-or-break material on the album is the quartet of gargantuan epics from 'Arry. A lot of us were expecting an even more Bruce-heavy album than The Book of Souls, so it came as a shock to learn just how wrong our expectations were. All but one of these songs are over ten minutes in length (with the odd one out just shy of it by about thirty seconds). Yet Steve really brought out his A-game here, penning some of the best songs in his entire career. Even when he showcases that he's not a perfect songwriter, he still overwhelms you with the fact that he can pull it off through sheer force of will. "Lost in a Lost World" is oddly effective; "Death of the Celts" is glorious and powerful; "The Parchment" is a sweeping masterpiece; and "Hell on Earth" is a beautiful closing number.

But Steve isn't alone here, of course. Whenever the rest of the gang steps up to the plate, we remember just why Maiden works in such great unity. Bruce and Adrian nail some great rockers (and one ballad); Janick writes both the closest thing to a classic Maiden single as we've gotten in a while and one of the album's most progressive-leaning tracks. Only Nicko and Dave contribute nothing to the writing department, yet their influence still resonates throughout this record. Nicko is as in-control as ever, methodically pounding away at the kit. And Dave, for the first time in fucking forever, really came swinging with some of his best guitarwork since the '80s.

Speaking of which, that's something that Senjutsu holds above its predecessor. I love The Book of Souls a lot, but the solos on that album never really ended up among the band's best. Here, though, the three amigos remind us just how much of a force they are to be reckoned with. Adrian is Adrian; you really can't go wrong with him and yet he's still pushing himself with lengthy solos like the one in "The Writing on the Wall", a contender for the best solo in the band's whole career. Davey amazes at how much he still has it when he pushes himself; love his work on "Death of the Celts" and "Darkest Hour" in particular. And Janick is Janick, that's just the way it's always been and the way it'll always be. And on this album he Janicks in really tasteful ways, always benefiting the songs and rarely overdoing it.

All in all, a great record. A towering reminder that Iron Maiden are, and always will be, the best band in metal history. Everyone is on fire, Steve tosses out epics like they're hotcakes, and it's easily in my Top 3 from the reunion era. Just not sure if it's beaten TBOS or not. Regardless, from beginning to end, a triumphant record that stands among the group's best work.

Score: A+



Song-by-Song Ratings:
1. Senjutsu - 9/10 >
2. Stratego - 9/10 >
3. The Writing on the Wall - 10/10 >
4. Lost in a Lost World - 9/10 >
5. Days of Future Past - 10/10 >
6. The Time Machine - 10/10 >
7. Darkest Hour - 7/10 >
8. Death of the Celts - 10/10 >
9. The Parchment - 10/10 >
10. Hell on Earth - 10/10 >
Average: 94%
Weighted: 95%

Top 5 Solos:
1. The Writing on the Wall (Adrian)
2. Darkest Hour (Dave)
3. The Writing on the Wall (Dave)
4. Death of the Celts (Dave)
5. Lost in a Lost World (Adrian)

Top 5 Lines:
1. "On the other side, I'll see again Heaven, so far away from this Hell on Earth." (Hell on Earth)
2. "Open your heart and I'll open your soul." (The Time Machine)
3. "Following those who came from Hell, came to witness the death of the Celts." (Death of the Celts)
4. "Beat the warning, the sound of the drums. Set the beacons afire for them all." (Senjutsu)
5. "How do you read a madman's mind? Teach me the art of war." (Stratego)

Top 5 Bruce Moments:
1. "Meet me there!" (The Parchment)
2. Chorus (Days of Future Past)
3. "...Came to witness the death of the Celts..." (Death of the Celts)
4. "Love in anger, life in danger." (Hell on Earth)
5. "Here I sit in a serenade of glory!" (Darkest Hour)

Best song: The Parchment
 

Jer

The dotage of a dotard
Senjutsu - 7/10 >
Stratego - 8/10 >
The Writing On The Wall - 9/10 >
Lost In A Lost World - 6/10 >
Days Of Future Past - 8/10 >
The Time Machine - 8/10 >
Darkest Hour - 8/10 >
Death Of The Celts - 7/10 >
The Parchment - 10/10 >
Hell On Earth - 10/10 >

Average: 8.1/10
Weighted: 8.2/10

After an overly long hiatus, Maiden returned with a surprisingly strong, if somewhat uneven double album. Most of the songs are great, with a few truly excellent tracks on offer, and “Lost In A Lost World” is really the only questionable song here.

Lots of really strong and memorable vocal melodies on this record, with some standout solos too. Definitely the second best album of the reunion era for me, and surprisingly it appears to have made my top 5 Maiden albums overall. (Having two 10/10 epics probably helped in that regard…)

(Album rankings by person post >)
 
Last edited:

Vantage Point

Educated Fool
Well I decided to start doing album reviews on my bands YouTube channel. Obviously a big part of the reason is to hopefully draw some people to the page and maybe have them check out my band, I'm not going to deny that. But I did also fancy doing reviews of albums I own and rating them, and seeing where they all ended up in leaderboard! So anyway, I started with Senjutsu,

 

Pibroch_Whistler

Educated Fool
Question for Senjutsu detractors: Where in the the Book of Songwriting 101 does it say that a song's CHORUS has to be the most epic or "best" moment in a song?!?!?!

Song rankings:
Senjutsu: 6/10 - (I don't see this one climbing higher)
Stratego: 9/10 - Only misses being a 10/10 due to the puzzling refusal to repeat Bruce's fantastic "I hear you calling my name" refrain
WoTW: 8.5/10 - gets a half point bump because I really dig the guitar riffing and overall ensemble performances from The Amigos
LiaLW: 11/10 - My favorite song on the album for a few months running, I don't see any songs tipping this one off the top
DoFP: 7/10 - the repetition that should've been more present in Stratego and Hell on Earth is too frequently employed here.
Time Machine 9/10 - biggest grower on the album so far. This one will be a cracker when/if they play all of the album live (I hope they in fact do!)
The Darkest Hour 7/10 Spiritual successor to AMOLAD's "Out of the Shadows" but a bit less interesting maybe
Death of the Celts 7/10 standard good Maiden fare, nothing really shines though
The Parchment 9/10 Top 20 all time Harris tune
Hell on Earth 9/10 Top 20 all time Harris tune -- I go back and forth as to which one is better.

I wish key areas of Stratego and Hell on Earth would've been repeated just once more
|
enjoying this album quite a bit more than Book of Souls
 

Murder of Rue Morgue

They're never gonna find me!
Let's try this one:
  1. Senjutsu: 7+ — brings you into the mood of the album and has some good melodies
  2. Stratego: 3.5 — better than the 'single' version but still bad
  3. The Writing on the Wall: 6+ — works good as a single, not a page turner but does its duty
  4. Lost in a Lost World: 3 — a complete waste of time and space worsened by the fact that the intro and the outro are pretty good
  5. Days of Future Past: 6+ — grown to me, I used to dislike it at first
  6. The Time Machine: 5.5 — I still don't really like it, but it's better than Lost in a Lost World
  7. Darkest Hour: 8 — solid mid-tempo, good solos, good work everybody
  8. Death of the Celts: 6/7 — I get the mood and quite like it, the solos are good but overall it lacks something
  9. The Parchment: 8+ — huge track despite the repetitions, I love the atmosphere and the solos
  10. Hell on Earth: 7/8 — better than Death of the Celts but not as good as The Parchment, I like the chorus, would be a good swan song
Overall: 6/10
 
Last edited:

Pibroch_Whistler

Educated Fool
Question for Senjutsu detractors: Where in the the Book of Songwriting 101 does it say that a song's CHORUS has to be the most epic or "best" moment in a song?!?!?!

Song rankings:
Senjutsu: 6/10 - (I don't see this one climbing higher)
Stratego: 9/10 - Only misses being a 10/10 due to the puzzling refusal to repeat Bruce's fantastic "I hear you calling my name" refrain
WoTW: 8.5/10 - gets a half point bump because I really dig the guitar riffing and overall ensemble performances from The Amigos
LiaLW: 11/10 - My favorite song on the album for a few months running, I don't see any songs tipping this one off the top
DoFP: 7/10 - the repetition that should've been more present in Stratego and Hell on Earth is too frequently employed here.
Time Machine 9/10 - biggest grower on the album so far. This one will be a cracker when/if they play all of the album live (I hope they in fact do!)
The Darkest Hour 7/10 Spiritual successor to AMOLAD's "Out of the Shadows" but a bit less interesting maybe
Death of the Celts 7/10 standard good Maiden fare, nothing really shines though
The Parchment 9/10 Top 20 all time Harris tune
Hell on Earth 9/10 Top 20 all time Harris tune -- I go back and forth as to which one is better.

I wish key areas of Stratego and Hell on Earth would've been repeated just once more
|
enjoying this album quite a bit more than Book of Souls

Over 3 months on, I am still enamored with Lost in a Lost World - those piledriving riffs never get old, and the intro+chorus+outro melodies are at once haunting and soothing.

The Time Machine has grown to a 10/10 -- perhaps the most spirited playing on the entire album. Recalls Dance of Death (the title track) in places.

The Darkest Hour rewards repeat listens far more than Out of the Shadows does, and has grown on me substantially. Bruce sings his heart out, and is perhaps one of his most passionate vocal performances ever.

The Parchment is a clear 10/10, top-flight execution, dynamics, and tension release and ebb+flow. Tied with LIALW as my favorite song on the album.

Hell on Earth is still great, still a 9/10 for me though - I feel that the last half of the song isn't as impactful as the first half. I'm aware that many here are enamored with the "lost in anger" section - I too enjoy it, but I don't feel its as great as vocalizations on the first half of HoE.

Senjutsu sits somewhere in my all-time top 5 Maiden albums, resting comfortably alongside Killers, The X Factor, and Powerslave - only slightly bested by (my eternal) #1 IM experience: Somewhere in Time.
 

Pibroch_Whistler

Educated Fool
  1. Lost in a Lost World: 3 — a complete waste of time and space worsened by the fact that the intro and the outro are pretty goo

Those piledriving and greasy guitar riffs aren't connecting with you yet; neither Bruce's variations and wordplay/cadence shifts as he draws out and holds his notes for certain sections of Lost In A Lost World's verses?

I used to like the band Tool quite a bit - but now I find them to be rather cumbersome and laborious. The riffing style on LIALW is somewhat akin to the way Tool build, bend, extrapolate, juxtapose, and craft a progression of riffs - but Maiden does it with so much more melody, skill, and grace.
 

Murder of Rue Morgue

They're never gonna find me!
Those piledriving and greasy guitar riffs aren't connecting with you yet; neither Bruce's variations and wordplay/cadence shifts as he draws out and holds his notes for certain sections of Lost In A Lost World's verses?
I hear no pile driving riffs nor any 'variation' worth remembering (nor any variation at all).
 

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
Question for Senjutsu detractors: Where in the the Book of Songwriting 101 does it say that a song's CHORUS has to be the most epic or "best" moment in a song?!?!?!
About 10% of Iron Maiden songs don't have choruses. I do like the idea of a song which has a chorus but where the chorus isn't the candy drug of the song. I think people typically think the chorus ought to be the most melodic and catchy part because that is the typical radio song. Music is an acquired taste and so we tend to like what we are used to.
LiaLW: 11/10 - My favorite song on the album for a few months running, I don't see any songs tipping this one off the top
Death of the Celts 7/10 standard good Maiden fare, nothing really shines though
The Parchment 9/10 Top 20 all time Harris tune
Hell on Earth 9/10 Top 20 all time Harris tune -- I go back and forth as to which one is better.
These are my top 4 songs of the album by a long way. Although the songs on disc 1 are very good, I do tend to get bored of that disc. Disc 2 I never get bored of. Kinda strange that LiaLW isn't on disc 2.

My fav of the four is HoE, but I really like LiaLW too. I struggle to see why many people in this forum pan LiaLW. The intro and outro are great and all the stuff inbetween is really really good too. I think it would have been better in the outro if the guitar wasn't doing the melody. I've recorded this without the guitar melody there and it sounds good to me that way.
 
Top