IRON MAIDEN — Somewhere In Time (review)

IRON MAIDEN — Somewhere In Time album cover Album · 1986 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
friso
Iron Maiden - Somewhere in Time (1986)

In a time 'progressive' was a cursed word Iron Maiden changed their direction in exactly that direction. This somewhat strange move for one of the most popular metal band of their times wasn't perceived as a progress by the fans, but in the progressive community it was seen as a pleasant career-move. Might Harris had always intended to extend his melodic and inventive ideas for the band? Perhaps the roots for this new style can be found in the new technology of it's time (synth-bass and synth-guitar). I don't know, but I learned to like this one-of-a-kind album in their discography.

On the Somewhere in Time album the metal-sound got some electronic edge to it and there now was a frequent use of synthesizers, albeit guitars-synths. The vocals of Dickinson are less close to the listener due to the use of reverb effects. The sound of this album is also a bit more abstract and perhaps a bit spacey to some. The drums are still recognizable Maiden style.

The songs. The album opens with the title track and to be honest, it's not my favorite track of the album. I know a lot of people who really like it, but I think it sounds un-interesting and the melodies just don't seem to work. Even some of the guitar-solo's don't work for me, usually a strong part of the Maiden title tracks. A pity. The next track, Wasted years, is a stronger track with a nice guitar theme and a catchy refrain. It's slight electronic sound works really well here. Sea of Madness is a bit more progressive and has a great bridge and refrain. The lyrics are bit dull IMHO.

Heaven Can Wait is the first masterful Maiden track on the album. This epical track about a near-death-experience has many parts put together in an intelligent and fresh way. The many guitarsolo's work well and the atmosphere works pretty well with the lyrics. Great! The Loneliness Of A Long Distance Runner is a song with a lot of instrumental guitar parts that work very well with the up-tempo approach. I used to think of this song as a real treat: the more melodic guitar parts the better. Stranger In A Strange Land is a simple but effective song like Wasted Years. Somehow the simplistic rhythmical approach (one might say kind of eighties-rock like) works very well. It give focus.

Déjà Vu is an up-tempo track with again a lot of melodic guitar parts and a good lyrical theme. This albums keeps getting stronger! Alexander The Great is the big epic of the album. It has all of the epic ingredient Maiden has to offer: many melodic instrumental parts, a story-line, some more development with instrumental parts (this time even in an odd time- signature!) and a good conclusion.

Conclusion. A strange Maiden album with synths and a slight progressive approach. This new slightly progressive sound is established by it's sound, Iron Maiden already had lot's of inventive songwriting and many melodic parts. Somehow I can understand this album is not for every-one and it might not even be appreciated by all fans of the band. I myself like it, though I think side two is better then side one. Four stars. A lot of guts to make experimental metal like this in the mid-eighties!
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