“The Book of Souls” is a faithful continuation of the genre-defining sound Iron Maiden has crafted since the late 1970s, but it also shows a band unwilling to rest on the successes of the past.
While containing the unmistakable Iron Maiden sound, this album reveals a band still striving for further lyrical depth and the pinnacle of musical prowess.
After more than 40 years of making music, British heavy metal band Iron Maiden released their 16th studio album, “The Book of Souls,” on Sept. 4.
Even though the album runs for a whopping 92 minutes, 11 seconds, Iron Maiden gives listeners so much variation between the 11 tracks that one comes away with distinct impressions for each song. This alone secures a place for “The Book of Souls” above most heavy metal albums recorded today.
From Bruce Dickinson’s reverb-heavy opening lines in the opening track, “If Eternity Should Fail,” to his masterful piano work in the 18-minute-long closer, “Empire of the Clouds,” “The Book of Souls” demonstrates that Iron Maiden is still one of the greatest heavy metal acts of all time.
Adam Levine better pay attention because Dickinson proves he has more moves than Mick Jagger. Dickinson still believably belts out powerful calls to manliness, as in “Death or Glory” — even at the age of 60 and after recently beating tongue cancer. The guitar solos throughout the album also show Iron Maiden to be as strong in 2015 as it was in 1985.
This music is not safe for swing dancing, but the elevated themes within the lyrics and the talented musicianship on display put lesser lights and aspiring politicians like Kanye West to shame.
The album is not perfect. “The Great Unknown” is, ironically, the most forgettable of the tracks, but it still contains a worthy guitar solo. The epic runtime makes “The Book of Souls” difficult to consume as a whole in one sitting, but the songs stand alone and merit individual attention.
The three best songs on the album are “The Speed of Light,” “Death or Glory,” and “Empire of the Clouds.” Each highlights a different strength of Iron Maiden.
“The Speed of Light” presents them as the upbeat, driving, melody-focused band with which fans love to sing along. “Death or Glory” reminds the audience that Iron Maiden is a heavy metal band and age has not robbed them of their powerful edge. Finally, “Empire of the Clouds” showcases Iron Maiden as made of virtuoso musicians able to test the limits of their genre and still have fun playing their instruments exceptionally well.
Fans will easily notice the variety in this latest Iron Maiden fare. And for the uninitiated, “The Book of Souls” may serve as a potent gateway drug back to classics like “The Number of the Beast” from 1982 and “Powerslave” from 1984.