Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden release their seventeenth studio album, Senjutsu.
I first saw Iron Maiden in 1981 on their Killers tour. They were supporting Judas Priest at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio, and Whitesnake was also on the bill. I went to the show to see Judas Priest, mainly, but I had started listening to the Killers album a few days before the concert. Iron Maiden was the newest band so they went first. Somebody in an Eddie mask walked out on the stage and I didn’t know what that was all about at the time, but everybody started cheering and then the music started. I have been a diehard fan of Iron Maiden ever since.
The impact Iron Maiden has had on heavy music is immense. They have released so many albums that could be called pivotal in their history and they have been written off by the press just as many times. But they never left, did they. For me, the albums that had the greatest impact were The Number of the Beast (1982), Fear of the Dark (1992), and The Book of Souls (2015). Yeah, how about that, Maiden fans? Which three would you choose? It’s here where we sit down and start debating the merits of each and every one. But we’ll have to do that in person, so instead let’s take a quick look at the newest, Senjutsu.
There are ten tracks and the running time is 82 minutes so if you make a quick division that means there are a lot of long songs. Iron Maiden has never shied away from the extended form, and as their career has gone on they have really leaned into the concept. Strong and inventive compositions, from Steve Harris especially, deepen the musical expression and more than justify the running time. If anything, at the end I wish there was even more.
Clever and instantly memorable hooks on songs like “The Writing On The Wall” sink in immediately and are with you to stay – I made a mental list on the first listen through of the songs I hoped to hear live this year on the band’s tour, and it is a pretty long list. The lead work sounds fresh, Bruce Dickinson’s voice is in top form, and the rhythm is granite. Picking highlights from this long set is almost arbitrary because of the consistent quality throughout, but I’ll go ahead and do it anyway. Along with “The Writing On the Wall,” I have a sparkling affection for the relentless pulsing of “Lost In A Lost World,” the familiar finesse of “Death Of The Celts,” and the profound and sweeping thoroughgoing of “The Parchment.” There are no wrong turns anywhere on this album. Highly recommended.
Senjutsu is out now in digital, double CD, and triple vinyl versions. Tap the links below.
Iron Maiden website, https://www.ironmaiden.com/
Iron Maiden Shop, https://666.ironmaiden.com/