IRON MAIDEN – The Final Frontier

IRON MAIDEN - The Final Frontier
  • 6.5/10
    IRON MAIDEN - The Final Frontier - 6.5/10


Release date: August 16, 2010

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There are mainly two major problems regarding modern day Maiden; the first is producer Kevin Shirley, whose at times clumsy sounding sonics somewhat fails to capture the live power of mainly the “three Amigos” that is the triple guitar attack of Dave Murray, Janick Gers and Adrian Smith. Especially so where the guitars get busy, which, in this group, happens frequently.  It is a mystery coming from a band that had a very productive and successful decade working with possibly one of the greatest producers ever to grace the Hard Rock world – Martin Birch. Did the band not learn how to best acquire those powerful, natural sounds that could be heard from its ten plus years cooperating with Birch? Go back to the Powerslave album and have a listen to the guitar parts on “The Duellists” to experience a mix perfectly capturing layers of guitars.

The second is the band’s overuse by now, of quiet, build-up intros to songs that are, it seems, constructed to be as long as possibly possible. On this album, the tendency in question comes to fruition during the second half of the batch of songs. Not only is this tedious, but has also grown far predictable by now. When the songs do get going though, Maiden displays melodic brilliance, and at times even explores previous uncharted territory with its music.

“The Man Who Would Be King” takes pairs with nice slide guitar work – something seldom used by Maiden, and chugging on in a similar pace to “The Thin Line Between Love and Hate”. Just as with “Montségur” on Dance Of Death and “The Pilgrim” on A Matter Of Life And Death, Gers offers up the more classic Maiden stunts in “The Alchemist” – a direct stomper that sets out that the band can still stir up a fair Metal storm, something that is becoming increasingly rare and thus sorely missed. Smith though, rather than offer mostly material in the vein of his catchy, anthem style of old, sees him siding with bassist Steve Harris on the ever expanding Epic side instead, which in itself explains why Maiden resides overly much on these proportions.

Just as with the aforementioned slide guitar, The Final Frontier does offer up some rather unusual traits from the band; some 70s akin’ riff work can be heard in “Starblind”, which is noteworthy from a band who from its very beginning had little to do with typical 70s Hard Rock. Some slight Folk elements are also present during “The Isle Of Avalon”. “Mother Of Mercy” builds into a well-crafted rocker, and “El Dorado” is archetypal Maiden gallop. “Coming Home” offers Maiden in non-typical ballad-mode; Murray’s bluesy playing, not to mention passionate delivery from vocalist Bruce Dickinson, it bears some odd resemblance to the singer’s various solo work in the process.

The overuse of somewhat similar, dragged-out, build-up structures makes for uneven dynamics regarding Maiden’s latter day albums, and The Final Frontier does not differ. Neither does the disappointing production. It’s too bad, for without these unfortunate elements, the group still displays plenty of life to conjure up work that could hold its own against its classics.


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