Legendary British metal band Iron Maiden posted a link recently to download a “preview” track from their upcoming studio album The Final Frontier, slated for release in August. This will be the band’s 15th studio album, three decades after their self-titled debut. The preview song, titled “El Dorado”, will be the second track from the new album, and it clocks in at nearly seven minutes.
While initially excited about hearing a new song from one of my favorite bands, after an email discussion with a friend and fellow metal fan, I started to have some doubts. Iron Maiden has had an incredible career, but the last two releases have hardly had the same energy and depth of earlier work. Regardless, I downloaded the track from the band’s website.
Upon first listen, I thought about the positives first. The song has all of the trademarks of a good metal song: raw, heavy guitar riffs, a tight rhythm section, and lyrics full of mythical imagery. I found myself nodding my head or rapping my fingers along to the beat numerous times. Afterwards, however, I was left with one nagging question, and that question wiped out any of the positives I just named.
Why does it sound like American thrash metal?
This isn’t the Iron Maiden that I know. The band’s trademark sound—Bruce Dickinson’s inimitable vocals, intricate guitar work by Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers, all laid down over Steve Harris’ galloping bass lines and Nicko McBrain’s drums—only presents itself in a few brief instances on “El Dorado”. - As a Maiden fan, and a metal fan in general, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps that’s one of the pitfalls of being in a band like Iron Maiden. The bar is set so high that it’s hard for to match up to what’s been done in the past. I hardly expected another “Run to the Hills”, “Aces High”, or “Wasted Years”, but I expected something better than this. I will admit that after listening to “El Dorado” half a dozen times, it’s started to grow on me, and perhaps when I listen to the remainder of the album this song will sound better to me. For now, I’ll rate this one on the low end, with hopes that I’ll change my mind after hearing The Final Frontier in its entirety this summer.
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