Brave New World
Released: 2000, Portrait/Columbia (EMI Canada)
Well, here it is. After all the hype, after all the hyperbole, after all the speculation and studio rumors, it’s here – Brave New World. The new opus from the newly God-led…excuse me, Dickinson-lead Iron Maiden. I gotta say right from the start, I think I was one of the few people who, upon hearing of the reformation, thought “No! Why Bruce, why?” After all, his solo albums had been some of the best work of his career (ah hell, in all of metal, period) while Maiden had floundered through the 90’s like a beached whale struggling to regain the ocean (come on, it’s o.k. to admit it now that Bruce is back). So, was Iron Maiden up to the task of living up to their considerable legacy, or would Brave New World be the disappointment that we (I) secretly feared?
Well, the CD arrived, and I was instantly won over by the cool cover art; after the abortion that was The X Factor cover, this was quite welcome. Then, upon scanning the song writing credits, I was dismayed to find that Bruce only co-wrote 4 of the 10 songs, and, worse, the band once again let deadweight Janick Gers co-write 4 songs. Thankfully, somehow, Steve Harris managed to keep both Gers and himself in check, and the entire band came up with what is easily their best album in about 12 years! No kiddies, there are no disappointments to be had here!
Naturally, the best songs are the ones that Dickinson was involved in writing – “The Wicker Man”, “Ghost of the Navigator”, “Brave New World”, and “Out of the Silent Planet” kick ass all over the damn place, with “Planet” being particularly awesome. I won’t bother with a track-by-track analysis, since this album has already been dissected all to hell, but “Fallen Angel” and “The Mercenary” are great traditional Maiden rockers. The rest of the tracks are classic Maiden epics, crapping all over the “Angel & the Shitdog” material from the Blaze-led era. (I’d like to add that those albums were not entirely Blaze’s fault. ‘Ole Stevie had some serious writer’s block back then)
However, despite the greatness of the songs, there are a couple points about this album that bug the shit out of me. First and foremost, for all the hype about Kevin Shirley producing the album, in MODO (ed. note: Waspman lingo for "my own damn opinion"), the production job is, at best, average. I mean, where is the guitar power of classic years Maiden? Sorry, but this production job is half-assed (despite the “genius” that some claim). Also, the band have already covered some of the material here – “The Mercenary” = “The Assassin”, while “Dream of Mirrors” = “Déjà vu”.
Oh, bugger it. Who am I to complain or question the mighty Maiden (what, did you think that I was, y’know, a critic or something?). Just get the damn thing. Up The Irons!