There it is the new Iron Maiden album, "The Final Frontier"! As huge of an Iron Maiden fan that I am I will not be too quick to say that it's an instant classic or the best Iron Maiden album ever, that's just not me and let's try to stay objective here for a second. If you know Maiden you should already have a good idea of what to expect, especially if you've heard their last three albums Brave New World (2000), Dance of Death (2003) and A Matter of Life and Death (2006). It doesn't sound all that different from the sound of the albums Iron Maiden put out in the 00's decade and you know what? It's not necessarily a bad thing because the music is still good, creative and the music itself is different and it seems most fans are still enjoying the band today. At this point I'm just thrilled that one of my favorite bands continues to release music of this quality today. It seems as if Maiden's music seems to get more complex (and it was always that way) as they go by, I think this one is an example of that. They keep doing what they do and want because they want to and they don't care for radio airplay, they have some of the most dedicated fans in the world (see Flight 666 DVD).
Of course the songs on TFF are long ones (the shortest one being 4:29), however for the casual listener a long song by the band may seem too long, after all not everyone likes 10+ minutes songs you know? Some people think those type of long songs are boring and perhaps pretentious, I think it shows incredible musical ability and willingness to bring the fans creative music but everyone has a different take on this.
I will comment on a few songs on The Final Frontier and leave the extended song-by-song analysis to other reviewers. The album opens with Satellite 15...The Final Frontier and it's a great song to open the album, it does a good job in setting the tone of the album! El Dorado was the first song released from the album and it's an excellent song, definitely not the best on TFF but a very good one, some fans have said it sounds a little like Barracuda and I can hear it too. Catchy chorus. Mother of Mercy is a great rocker, one of the shorter songs of the album. Coming Home sounds like anything from the past three albums to me as vague as it sounds, slower and more melodic Maiden. I really like The Alchemist, it's the shortest song here but sometimes the best of things come in small packages, it sounds like it could be on one of Bruce's solo albums. I love the slow and melodic intro to The Man Who Would Be King, great song, I don't know what else to say.The closing song When The Wind Blows is an amazing 11 minutes masterpiece, perhaps the best song of the album, terrific track. Those 10 songs prove that Maiden can still make wonderful music and with each listen I get more and more into the album.
I've seen the band in Toronto on their last tour and they were excellent as always. The band put more focus on the reunion albums from the 00's, I was impressed that they did that and I was a little worried at first seeing how everyone loves the classic. However I heard no one complain, in fact most fans knew every word to every song and no one seemed disappointed that they played more of the new material. Iron Maiden is doing what they want and is an example for aspiring musicians out there.
Steve Harris has already confirmed that The Final Frontier will NOT be the band's last album; I know some fans were wondering because the title of the album has the word final in it. The Final Frontier should be taken for what it is, a truly very, very good album, I'm really satisfied and Maiden has not let me down! I have to give the album 4 stars, close to a 5, very good album solid all the way through. I know that if you're a fan of the band and their reunion recordings you will enjoy TFF, at least I hope! Iron Maiden don't have to record new music, they could just tour and play the classics over and over but they choose not to do that and give their fans new music, it's pretty amazing especially when you consider that some bands play the classic over and over. The band sounds solid and I think that Bruce Dickinson still has it; the man is in his fifties now give him a break! What's left to say? Enjoy the album and up the irons!
P.S.- I can't hide it, I was a little disappointed with the "Mission Edition" of The Final Frontier, that's the version I wanted to buy but after seeing what it offered more than the standard edition I decided it wasn't enough, plus I just wasn't a fan of the tin foil type of case. The Mission Edition doesn't have any bonus tracks or a DVD, what it does have however is web contents. It's not all that important but I just think you should know what you're buying, I'm not arguing which version you should buy I'm just a fan (probably like you) who decided to stick the regular CD release.
P.P.S- Am I the only one who isn't a big fan of the album cover? I like it now but it doesn't look much like Eddie now does it? I only wish they brought Derek Riggs back to paint Eddie.