There will be no arguing that Iron Maiden became legends long time ago, I guess and they can afford to not release a new music at all. Everybody will be happy if they will just play their songs on stadium shows. Nevertheless, the band still releases new albums, maybe not as often as we want. So, the new, 17th album named Senjutsu.
Like a previous one, The Book Of Souls, Senjutsu is a double LP. Yet, there is no 18-minutes mastodons like “Empire Of The Clouds” (the longest song here, “The Parchment” lasts “just” 13 minutes) but it doesn’t mean that Iron Maiden stepped back from the accustomed storytelling, no. On the contrary, the second LP is full loaded with epics like “The Clansman” or “Dream Of Mirrors” for example. Yeah, they still tell stories, which sometimes turn into fables.
There are good news and the bad news about the music, as usual. I’ll start with the good ones: Senjutsu is much more Iron Maiden album than The Book Of Souls. It has typical galloping riffs, Steve Harris puts his bass on the forefront and Bruce Dickinson still impresses with his voice, even not so much as he did in his youth. The (relatively) bad news is that it feels like at least half of these songs were written in mid-90s, The X-Factor and Virtual XI times – they are pretty grim and mostly mid-paced. I personally love these albums pretty much but I know that many can, let’s say it gently, disagree with it.
There is a lack of angry, fast-paced tracks. Maybe “Stratego” comes somehow closer to it, with “traditional” galloping in riffs and drums, On the other hand, there is no mistake, it’s 100% Iron Maiden just like the first single from the album “The Writings On The Wall” (even with some Country touches). “Days Of The Future Past” and “The Time Machine” are also sound habitually and exactly as it was expected. Some good bridges, acoustic guitars and synths are also need to mention and we will hear them in the album further. However, the opener “Senjutsu” isn’t memorable at all, for my sorrow – there is heaviness in it and some epicness but seems like something went wrong.
“Death Of The Celts” is clearly done by “The Clansman” formula: it’s long, diverse, with great story in lyrics, Dave Murray/Adrian Smith/Janick Gers great guitars and Steve Harris’ bass on the top of it all. The same happens in “Hell On Earth” and, in varying degrees in “The Parchment” (all of them were written by Steve Harris by the way). While the sound, the structure and the vibes of the songs obviously refer to The X-Factor period – there were some tough times for Steve back then and it was reflected in music. Nevertheless, there are plenty of catchy moments and great headbanging riffs so 10-minutes longs tracks will not seem protracted or boring. By the way, “The Parchment” is the most epic and sublime track. In its turn, “Darkest Hour” (some kind of ballad), written by Smith and Dickinson refers us to “Wasting Love” or even to Bruce’s solo albums, at least it sounds pretty resembling.
Let’s be honest: Senjutsu is not a masterpiece like Fear Of The Dark or The Number Of The Beast but I don’t think it was the main goal of the band – they already have enough masterpieces in their discography. But I can’t say it’s bad. It has some lacks but there are much more advantages, as I can see it. Of course, some will say “Iron Maiden ended in 2000 (or even earlier) and further they started to play something incomprehensible” but as I said in the beginning, such bands can even not release a new music because they have an old good one. Nevertheless, they still do it and do it good. Not bad, at least.
Senjutsu was released on September, 3rd via Parlophone Records.
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