The Final Frontier: individual album judgement by yours truly

whilst listening to "The Mercenary", "The Assassin" and "The Apparition" (among many other "The ..." Maiden tracks), I often imagine that the Mercenary, the Assassin, and The Apparition are sailing at sea (and thus they become sea-faring epics also!)

The Unbeliever never sets sail though - for in my dreams, he's afraid of planes, trains, automobiles, and boats - and thus The Unbeliever only travels where his feet can take him
 
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chaosapiant

Ancient Marinade
Starblind is the best song Maiden has ever written. As for The Talisman, I think it is less connected to Rime than Red and the Black. To me, The Red and the Black is the spiritual successor to Rime.
 

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner
Starblind is the best song Maiden has ever written. As for The Talisman, I think it is less connected to Rime than Red and the Black. To me, The Red and the Black is the spiritual successor to Rime.
Starblind is not typical Maiden so far from their best IMO.
But great song and indeed one of my many favorites on this forgotten album.
Forgotten? Yes. I think most people here prefer the albums that came before and after it.
 

Murder of Rue Morgue

Educated Fool
  1. Satellite 15... The Final Frontier 5.5/10 - some good ideas, but I think that works better if Satellite and Final Frontier are separated
  2. El Dorado 4.5...?/10 - or, as I call it, the cliché song; nothing memorable here
  3. Mother of Mercy 6.5/10 - due to the vocal part and the copy-and-paste; the song itself is good (7.5, maybe even 8/10 if properly recorded)
  4. The Alchemist 5/10 - a filler*, nothing more nothing less; Janick Janicking
  5. Coming Home 8/10 - Wasted Years mix Brighter than a 1000 Suns, but works fine
  6. Isle of Avalon 4/10 - yawn
  7. Starblind 5.75/10 - some good ideas, but the jam session isn't among them
  8. The Talisman 9/10 - once more, Janick has to teach how you write an epic
  9. The Man Who Would Be King 6/10 - too long, but the instrumental section is majestic
  10. When the Wild Wind Blows 6.25/10 - too repetitive, gains points thanks to the instrumental sections
Overall: 4.75/10


———
* Janick's words
 
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karljant

Ancient Mariner
IRON MAIDEN - THE FINAL FRONTIER (re-listening 2020)

1- Satellite 15:
Screw it... I'll review this intro as a separate track since a) it's a piece of its own and a totally different one from the song it is attached to and b) the band seemed to rectify that in the En Vivo live record. So, throughout the next 4 minutes and a half we're offered an atmosphere building sci-fi intro with rumbling drums and some cool guitars. Except of course for that gibberish during the pause before Bruce's voice starts narrating the desperation of an astronaut stranded in outer space that can't return to its ship. And although this intro really portrays that scenario effectively and the the crescendo is really on point some repetitions could be trimmed and could be at least 1 mute and something shorter without compromising its goals. Other than that I believe this piece is absolutely needed because the title track is far from being an opener per se and the way they complement themselves is really well achieved. 6/10

2- The Final Frontier:
As the intro reaches its apex, a strong mid paced heavy rocker makes its way and man this sounds as simple as great! I notice some traits from Priest's Green Manalishi and Sabbath's Selling My Soul here. The song is really radio friendly and while being a bit too simplistic while bringing nothing new to the table, everything here sounds really fluid, solid as steel and compelling. In this part of the lyrics the astronaut comes to terms with his fate and reruns his life with a sense of happiness and fulfillment, only wishing he could had the chance to say goodbye to his family. It's rare seeing Maiden going so basic in their compositions, so stripped down yet coming with such a winner. Great tune and a mandatory single. 8.5/10

3- El Dorado:
Once again the live version is way better since a) why doesn't the studio version connects the crashing end of the previous song with the beginning of El Dorado? If you're listening to the whole album it's absolutely bizarre to get a similar section once the song begins. And b) why aren't the guitar pulls by Adrian featured in the studio version? Although being quite simple it gives another edge to the song. As for the song itself the verses are based on a trademark Steve Harris galloping bass complemented with straight forward strong riffs with an equally simple yet nicely put together pre-chorus and a powerful refrain (Bruce really shines here). The bridge is really interesting, shamelessly "Maidenesque" (kinda remembering the one on Tailgunner) and the solos by the three amigos are also cool. So... far from being an absolute classic this cautionary tale about those who take advantage of one's greed. And although being quite generic it's also a solid as hell composition, with lots of stamina and punch while presenting some really cool details here and there. 8/10

4- Mother Of Mercy:
I really don't understand what's all the hate on this track's all about. It starts with a good melody and nicely built intro (the part when Bruce raises its voice is truly well achieved). The passage to the verses is also really enjoyable. The main riff is based on the intro's melody, working perfectly and so does the dramatic and aggressive chorus, fitting like a glove the war diatribe lyrics. So let's sum all parts of this tune: the voice is great, guitars are also fine, drumming and bass have nothing wrong with it, lyric wise while being a bit obvious is far from being bad and the composition itself is well put together and its somehow dire tone reflects the subject in a truly faithful fashion. Once again while being far from top notch Maiden I don't understand the hate. This is a good, solid tune. 7.25/10

5- Coming Home:
This one's a truly beautiful tune, inspired by the touring travels on Flight 666 and the feeling of returning to your homeland after a long time out. The first melody once again seems a bit out of place and the calm verses remind me too much of Out Of The Shadows. Nevertheless the pre-chorus is really powerful and gives on hell of a boost to that great sing along refrain (and the voice on both this sections is once again top notch). Then unfortunately we have a brief passage on the unfitting first melody but the following solo by Dave is simply superb. So there you go: another good track with lots of melody that works wonders live. 7.25/10

6- The Alchemist:
Wow! What's this? 2010 Maiden pulling a Killers' like tune? Now this I like! That harmony and the fast pace sound truly amazing and the verses are powerful as fuck! Unfortunately the pre-chorus is quite a let down: to put such a generic passage right after the adrenaline rush that came prior kinda killed my mood. As for the chorus it's ok but also far from the quality of the initial parts. It's basically a simple cool melody with Harris' bass giving muscle to it. And while the following guitar harmony is also enjoyable all I want is to return to the absolutely exciting early Maiden sections. After a couple of solos and a Maiden 101 harmonizer the song returns for its last run on the chorus. And that's it: inspired on the enigmatic John Dee it's a pity th e remainder of the sections can't keep up with the absolute onslaught of the opening harmony and verses, otherwise I'd rate The Alchemist much higher. Nevertheless thanks for the blast from the past. 8/10

7- Isle Of Avalon:
And then comes the first of many lengthy epics. With a title such as Isle Of Avalon the song's lyrical content is obvious. Musically the tune is all about momento and atmosphere building. And does one hell of job while doing so. One can say the song takes a bit too long in the process and I get the point but the smart use of samples and absolutely engaging mythical ambiance real keeps me hooked to it. And once the song explodes it does it in a really epic manner, especially the second sang inflection with that distant keyboard. The bridge that follows is also thrilling and serves as support for the first guitar solo here. The way Steve gives the moto for the next smoother section is also an interesting detail and once again this passage begs for a much more chilled out solo to let the song breathe a little bit (and the band achieves this briliantly). It then returns to the initial section and if the first go round the sense of anticipation was indeed marvelous, this time it doesn't work that much since we already know where we're heading to. The song comes to an end after the aforementioned second sang section and we're left with another fantastic lengthy Maiden tune for the ages. 8.75/10

8- Starblind:
Starting with a calm intro, this intricate song brings us a reflection on how small we are when compared with the vastness of the universe and no matter what major importance we think we have we all end up having similar destinies. There's obviously also a religion vs science debate going on here, how both factions' perspectives can overwhelm us with their gigantic perspectives. And that's the irony I find interesting here: no matter how small we are we're all made of the very same matter of the universe, the stars, it's all part of every single being. Music wise Nicko's break beat drumming is amazing and Bruce is also giving everything on the verses. The chorus is also strong and although I really like the calm break at the 5.45 min mark and how it returns to the main sections, I think that the soloing and bridges before last for way too long, rendering the song a bit boring at the middle with too many solos and too many variations (many of the latter being quite mundane). IMO this song would benefit a lot with at least 1 minute less. As it is it's a bit tiring but nonetheless still a great tune. 7.75/10

9- The Talisman:
Comes the third lengthy song and Maiden once again present us another odissey with the ocean as background. Now let me tell you from the get go: I think this song is absolutely fantastic. Besides being filled with excellent passages it truly drags you throughout each set where the action takes place with remarkable intensity. The initial calm and soothing section shows the main character at the peer ready for boarding while he describes the scenario and his feelings. Seems like the action is also during the migration of pilgrims to the Americas during the 17th century, since the lyrics describe the travelers as some sort of pariahs looking for a new promised land. And although this effect is masterfully achieved I think the section lasts a bit too long. All of a sudden we find ourselves on board in the eye of a vicious storm, with adrenaline pumping at max volume. Both the power filled galloping verses and the beautiful chorus describe perfectly how the incoming storms keep on claiming both passengers and crew's lifes while the main character never loses faith he'll survive as he holds a talisman as strongly and dearly as his own life. The guitar harmonies that follow are absolutely Maiden 101 but so gorgeous one can only love them. As for the utterly amazing passage where Bruce sings "Westward we sail" can be also a sign this is indeed during the pilgrimage to the Americas. The bridge section depicting the severe proofs the passengers and crew underwent (many of them dying) added to the storms themselves is also briliantly complemented by the soloing action. Finally the main character survives the perilous crossing of the ocean but in a twist of irony ends up dying at the promised land due to some sickness he developed during the voyage (scurvy and malnutrition are cited before during the lyrics). The Talisman is one hell of a thriller, not too complex in its structure but exceptionally well put together, with Maiden bringing their A-game when it comes to epic songs in stellar way. 9.75/10

10- The Man Who Would Be King:
This one starts with yet another calm section and there are some curious resemblances here with some Virtual XI tunes. The calm intro reminds me a bit of When Two Worlds Collide (while sounding better) and the verses are really close to Lightning Strikes Twice's groove. The syncopated pre-chorus is simple yet enjoyable and the refrain while not being bad is also nothing special. The next passage simply makes no sense: comes out of the blue and the transition is quite forced. Plus it's one of the weakest sections here that the band uses for soloing purposes that then goes to a ok-ish dual guitar harmony (and by now I'm wondering when do we get back to the good part since we've been into this boring section for too long). Finally this heavy cool bridge makes us feturns to the verses and so on. But the best was saved for last since the epilogue like section is by far the best one here. Man I love every single bit of this: great melody, great ambiance and great vocals. An excellent way to end a somewhat uneven (and once again too much long) track. As for the tracks I believe it deals with some important and ambitious individual that was forced to exile from his glorious land and great life for killing another mn, his regrets and penance before both man and God. Quite confuse at times but still enjoyable. 7/10

11- When The Wild Wind Blows:
And to wrap things up how about a goddamned masterpiece? This adaptation from Raymond Briggs' novel (with the band giving it a different end) is simply put a monument. The initial notes are stunning and the intro's melody is absolutely beautiful with Bruce making a perfect picture of the news on TV regarding the apocalyptic event soon to come through the eyes of the old couple and their preparations. As the song explodes, the verses recover the intro's strong melody at mid pace, rendering it a great effect. At a point the song stops and another section begins, this time absolutely focused on the old couple as the catastrophe starts to ocurr and they remind all the lifetime they spent together and that gives room for the solo section and a truly great dual guitar harmony. So, being a Harris creation, and since the dreaded moment simingsly has arrived it's almost certain the song is about to go uptempo, right? Wrong. What happens next is one of the details why I truly love in this track. Since the event was far from the magnitude it was expected and while some rumours regarding that start leaking, Musically the song goes the same route. It keeps its mid tempo, alternating between the heart breaking anguish of the old couple (that still believes the end is near) in a more melancholic line and the a stronger and edgier part that portrays some TV stations and large parts of the population claiming the supposed world's end is simply an earthquake. And this duality regarding states of mind is pictured here in a masterful manner. And, after some more soloing action the song returns to the two initial soft memories and ends revealing the old couple's the tragic fate. Personally I think When The Wild Wind Blows is more actual than ever. In years like the last ones (especially 2020) where information and counter-information revealed itself to be an utterly powerful tool that can either amp or diminish the true scale of things (making us live in absolute panic or taking reckless and irresponsible attitudes) this tragic story bears a truly great lesson. Don't rush yourself into premature doings: be cautious but always hope for the best and try to use common sense. And let's not forget the detail that music wise this thing is simply put a masterpiece. 10/10

Maiden's 15th album is a case study. It's far from being one of my favorite albums but fact is there's not a single bad song here and regarding fillers the only thing that kind of comes near is The Man Who Would Be King (due to the filler parts within the middle section, not the core of the song itself so it's really unfair calling it a filler per se). On the other hand there's the track listing: all the shorter songs are placed in the first half of the record followed by a block of 5 with lengths that vary aproximatelly between the 8 minute mark to the massive 11 minutes of the record's closer. Production wise it's typical ok-ish Shirley job and Illustration wise... man this is weird. First the colours are too vivid, too cartonish. And don't get me wrong, I like the alien Eddie idea but the body looks goofy and Grant's last take on the mascot's face is a bit ugly. I'm led to conclude that was once again another bizarre pick by Rod and the band since inside the inlay there's 6 illustrated studies and among them there's the one that ended up being picked (namely the 3r counting from the left on the bottom row). I would much prefer the one in the center that mixes perfectly distinctive Eddie like traits with alien aspects. But hey... it is what it is. Overall a really nice album that, while not being a masterpiece as a whole, ends up being a respectable listening experience. Although it brings nothing new to the table it shows the band in good form. still being able to amaze us here and there in a manner that puts to shame many newcommers. 7.75/10
 
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Forostar

Ancient Mariner
A case study? Have you noticed the ATSS recycling moments in WTWWB?

See link
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link



IRON MAIDEN - THE FINAL FRONTIER (re-listening 2020)

1- Satellite 15:
Screw it... I'll review this intro as a separate track since
You wish to give a high grade for The Final Frontier. :----)
 
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Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
A case study? Have you noticed the ATSS recycling moments in WTWWB?
It’s certainly a case study in how to recycle material, then. I’ve never noticed it.

(And also the argument should never be: they recycled this part. The argument should be: they recycled this part poorly (or well) At least IMO.)
 

karljant

Ancient Mariner
A case study? Have you noticed the ATSS recycling moments in WTWWB?
Didn't noticed it but indeed both the 1st bars of the melody in WWTWB and ATSS are really similar. The second bars are quite different though. So yeah it's similar but not quite recycling for me (plus that's merely a BRIDGE in WTWWB. Far from being an essential passage in the song). As far as I'm concerned examples of true recycling are Shadows Of The Valley (Wasted Years), The Clansman (Infinite Dreams), Gates Of Tomorrow (Lord Of The Flies), Mother Russia (Seventh Son), among some others where the entirety (or almost) of the melody is really resembling ... not just half of it. If I was as strict as you a ton of Maiden's material would simply be recycling. And it's a case study because of the way the track list is aligned, due to the fact I merely like the album although there's not a single song here I dislike (something only 5 other Maiden records achieve IMO and all of them rank way above TFF).
You wish to give a high grade for The Final Frontier. :----)
Nah... I really think it's a totally different track. And the En Vivo version only reinforced that idea. To this very day I'm still wondering why the band didn't separated them track wise in the studio version.
 
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Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Didn't noticed it but indeed both the 1st bars of the melody in WWTWB and ATSS are really similar. The second bars are quite different though. So yeah it's similar but not quite recycling for me (plus that's merely a BRIDGE in WTWWB. Far from being an essential passage in the song). As far as I'm concerned examples of true recycling are Shadows Of The Valley (Wasted Years), The Clansman (Infinite Dreams), Gates Of Tomorrow (Lord Of The Flies), Mother Russia (Seventh Son), among some others where the entirety (or almost) of the melody is really resembling ... not just half of it. If I was as strict as you a ton of Maiden's material would simply be recycling. And it's a case study because of the way the track list is aligned, due to the fact I merely like the album although there's not a single song here I dislike (something only 5 other Maiden records achieve IMO and all of them rank way above TFF).

Nah... I really think it's a totally different track. And the En Vivo version only reinforced that idea. To this very day I'm still wondering why the band didn't separated them track wise in the studio version.
You're never going to get a ton of such likeness as I just showed. Obviously, you are not bothered, but it did not take me 10 years to find out (ATSS might be my fav song of the nineties, so I am sensitive to this recyling, but also recycling in Maiden in general).. however, (esp.) since you gave the perfect grade, I felt this needed to be addressed.

Re: Satellite, whatever you think, it is not a different track. It is presented and connected as one track. Unfortunately it makes you enjoy the overall track less. Lyrically the pieces are also connected.
 
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Yax

Ancient Mariner
Re: Satellite, whatever you think, it is not a different track. It is presented and connected as one track. Unfortunately it makes you enjoy the overall track less. Lyrically the pieces are also connected.
I solved that by editing them apart. I think they should have scratched Satellite 15 to begin with. It subtracts from the experience rather than add to it. "Kill your darlings" isn't a concept Maiden has been able to do for H knows how long. Or maybe they do and I don't just agree with them with some of them. I'm sure it's the latter. Who knows what ideas they have scratched since the reunion.
 
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Jer

Yes, Yes, Another Beer!
"Kill your darlings" isn't a concept Maiden has been able to do for H knows how long.
I get the sense that one of the post-reunion mindset changes has been being less picky about tightening up the songs. Everyone’s more willing to let others run with their ideas without fighting to make the best version of the song possible. This opens the door to new sounds and approaches, but it also lends itself to bloat, recycling, and repeatedly settling for “good enough”. But I’m guessing it also reduces interpersonal tension within the band.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
It subtracts to the experience rather than add to it.
See, here’s where my take on “Satellite 15... The Final Frontier” is quite a conundrum.

On the one hand, I’m not very big on “Satellite 15”. I like it in concept, but I think it’s dragged on a bit too long and lowers the overall score for me, which is disappointing because I love “The Final Frontier”.

On the other hand, I never listen to one without the other because that build up in “Satellite” — however unnecessary — makes the explosion into the title track so much more awesome. Feels like it was built directly for a live show and it gives off that vibe on record.

So basically at this point I’m just like — whatever, the second part rocks and even though the first half is far from perfect, it sets up the second very well and I’ll take it.
 

karljant

Ancient Mariner
Satellite, whatever you think, it is not a different track. It is presented and connected as one track. Unfortunately it makes you enjoy the overall track less. Lyrically the pieces are also connected.
So why did they split both tracks in the live album? Aahhhh....
 

karljant

Ancient Mariner
Wherever he may roam, in short.
Oh wait, wrong Un.
"So I dubbed the Hun forgiven"
atila-bio-400x310.jpg
 
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