IRON MAIDEN — The Book Of Souls (review)

IRON MAIDEN — The Book Of Souls album cover Album · 2015 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
UMUR
"The Book Of Souls" is the 16th full-length studio album by UK heavy metal act Iron Maiden. The album was released through Parlophone (UK) and through Sanctuary Copyrights/BMG (US) in September 2015. It´s been five years and a lot of touring since the release of "The Final Frontier (2010)", but the release of "The Book Of Souls" was also postponed slightly as a consequence of Bruce Dickinson´s cancer treatment. "The Book Of Souls" was recorded with producer Keven Shirley at Guillaume Tell Studios, Paris from September to December 2014. The same studio the band used when they recorded "Brave New World (2000)". Iron Maiden opted for a slightly different recording and writing method than usual as all members came in with about an hour of material, and many tracks were then constructed or finished in the studio based on that material. So many of the tracks were recorded in a few takes and with very little time to practice or perfect parts, which was an intentional choice to allow for a more organic and immediate sound.

At the end of the day Iron Maiden had enough material for a double album release, which is a first in their discography (not counting live albums). Featuring 11 tracks and a full playing time of 92:11 minutes, it´s also the longest studio album yet released by Iron Maiden. Stylistically the music on the album pretty much continues the band´s post 2000 style, which means the album features only a few fast paced rockers, a good portion of heavier mid-paced tracks, and quite a few long epic tracks. Among the latter their longest track yet in the 18:01 minutes long closing track "Empire of the Clouds". It´s fair to say they´ve developed a taste for more proggy/epic compositions over the years. They used to only have a couple of slower epic sounding tracks on each of their albums, but now that´s more or less the dominant style.

It´s no surprise that the musicianship is of high class on all posts. Iron Maiden are seasoned heavy metal veterans and they know how to play and sing. While they are veterans, they are certainly no dinosaurs, and their performances are delivered with both passion and conviction. So it´s mostly in the songwriting department that things have changed over the years.

The material on the album is generally of a high quality. To my ears the highlights are "If Eternity Should Fail", "Speed of Light", "The Book of Souls", "Death or Glory", "The Man of Sorrows", and the Bruce Dickinson penned epic closing track "Empire of the Clouds". The rest of the material ranges from good to decent, but doesn´t stand out as much as the mentioned tracks. The overall quality and flow of the album is good though. Stylistically most of the material doesn´t feauture anything surprising. As always there is a strong emphasis on melody and memorability. There are a few surprises in store for the listener though. "The Man of Sorrows" is for example a very dark sounding Iron Maiden track, which is refreshing, and "Empire of the Clouds" features piano and orchestra, which as far as I remember is a first for Iron Maiden.

"The Book Of Souls" features a pretty well sounding production. The guitars could have packed a bit more punch, but other than that the sound production is well sounding and suits the material well. So all in all this is another quality release by Iron Maiden. As with most Iron Maiden releases post 2000, you should adjust your expectations to what it includes though. There are only three relatively fast-paced rockers featured on the album, and the rest of the material is mid-paced or slow building and epic (although some sections can be faster paced). It means that the material generally requires more attention and more spins to settle, than the more immediate material from their "classic" 80s period. But if you can adjust your expectations to that "The Book Of Souls" is quite the enjoyable listen and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.
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adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I think it's one of the more underrated records in their discography. In a lot of ways this one reminds me most of Dance of Death than any of their other later albums. I highly recommend a revisit.
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Oh...haven´t heard that one much since I reviewed it several years ago.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Nice review Jonas. Just an FYI they also used the orchestra a bit on Dance of Death.

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