Two new albums got my attention in the past few weeks and after a few listening sessions on both CDs, here are my reviews for Iron Maiden’s “The Final Frontier” and Disturbed’s “Asylum”.
When I saw Iron Maiden in Montreal last July, the new album wasn’t out but the single “El Dorado” was available. It was nice to hear Maiden back to some “gallop” as there were none on the previous album, A Matter of Life and Death, but was this a good pointer to what the new album was going to be?
The new album came out here in Canada on August 17th. Being a hard core (or old if you prefer) Maiden fan, I grabbed a copy of the album and started listening to it. The opening is really weird for Maiden, as it sounds like a David Bowie experiment or some weird heavy Pink Floyd. It is nice to hear though as it is totally unusual, and it was a good start compared to some previous albums where you could link a riff to this song and another riff to that song, and so on. So we were off to a good start.
Now I won’t go and do a track by track analysis, but here are my thoughts on the whole album. First off, diehard fans, those of “The Number of the Beast” and “Piece of Mind” will be disappointed: the album is more like the latest Maiden stuff, “A Matter of life and Death” and “Dance of the Death”. Although good albums, I feel they lack a bit of punch and the lovely guitar duo melodies that were present on previous albums. Since “Brave New World”, I always felt they could do a lot more with three guitars. “Brave New World” being one of the best albums since Adrian came back, I guess I used it as the baseline for newer albums.
Like most of the latest Maiden have put on the market, “The Final Frontier” is an album that I will probably skip a few songs when they come up on my iPod. A bit sad, as I was expecting a bit more “conventional” Maiden style songs, but as a musician I can understand that the guys have been doing this for thirty years and they want to try different things. Still, the album is worth it for the few gallops and Bruce’s vocals. Guitars could/should have been put more in evidence and more melodies are needed. Power chords are nice, but the Maiden trademark is definitely both Adrian and Dave’s work on melodies. Hallowed be thy names (both guys and Jannick, of course!).
The next band that got my attention with their new release is Disturbed. I also saw their latest concert in Montreal, but that was almost a year ago and of course, the new album wasn’t out. I didn’t know what to expect as they have albums that even though they were clearly signed by the same band, lyrics and music was somewhat different from one album to the other. So without having a clue on what to expect (I didn’t get the free songs they’ve put on the Net), I grabbed that latest opus from the band.
And, maybe it is because I had no expectations like I had for the Maiden album, I was greatly surprised by the songs of the latest release. Yes, it is a bit less hard and crunchy as “Ten Thousand Fists”, but there is a nice variety of songs and one big surprise: a cover of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. The guitar is a bit weird for a U2 song but David Draiman’s voice is surprisingly a very good fit for that song. Much better than their cover of Tears For Fears’ “Shout” and Genesis’ “Land of Confusion”. This album is an excellent follow up to their previous release and it has a largest variety of songs than their previous work. A must have for all Disturbed fans.
I would conclude by a saying of mine: if you don’t want to be disappointed, don’t have any expectations. That applies very well to these two albums as I had some expectations for the Iron Maiden release and none for Disturbed, and of course, Maiden was a bit disappointing and Disturbed was a nice surprise. But if I go back in time and think about what happened when Maiden launched “A Matter of Life and Death”, there’s a good chance history will repeat itself: I will listen to the final frontier a lot and I will eventually appreciate it and most probably like it. For the next Maiden release, I will try to remember the “Blaze Bailey” years (not criticising the guy, as Maiden was not quite Maiden at that time without Adrian and Bruce) and say to myself that it can’t get worse than that. As for Disturbed, I hope I will be able to go see them live when they come back to Montreal.
The major problem I have right now is I can’t stop listening to Dream Theater’s two latest releases “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” and “Systematic Chaos”… Just can’t have a day without one of these songs… Too bad they didn’t play a longer opening act at the last Maiden concert!
Next album I’m waiting for is Stone Sour’s upcoming CD. No expectations on this one, so probably no disappointment.
Put your fist in the air and up the irons!