Brave New World is Iron Maiden’s first Bruce-fronted studio album in eight years, and heralds the return of former frontman Bruce Dickinson who left the band in 1994. Over the past four years, Blayze Bayley has attempted to fill the void left by Dickinson’s absence, but failed to impress fans on 1995’s The X Factor. Now he’s back, and so is former guitarist Adrian Smith, creating a six-man lineup. The tour has already begun and, despite Janick Gers’ recent injurious 10-foot fall off a stage while performing, has been relatively successful.
Many believe this to be Iron Maiden’s best album yet, despite the rare cynical whining of some who believe them to be “sad, old fuckers getting back together to go and make a few bucks,” as Dickinson puts it. In the opinion of myself and most Maiden listeners, Brave New World has an energy that matches older records like Piece of Mind or Number of the Beast, but is combined with an unrivaled optimism that promises the group’s continued performance together.
The album contains many songs that can only be described as towering, majestic creations. “The Wicker Man,” “Ghost of the Navigator,” and “Out of the Silent Planet” all vehemently scream with previously contained energy that has been bottled up since 1992’s “Fear of the Dark.” The only bad points of this album are small, like the clumsy intro to “Dream of Mirrors” and the odd lyrics of “The Nomad,” which seem as though they are trying to be specific about some kind of historical character, but end up rather incomprehensible.
Brave New World was produced by Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, The Black Crowes), which has aided Maiden in its attempt at a more modern album, without detracting from the original sound that fans have grown to love.
Comparing some of the songs on this album to older songs, I have come to an understanding of this myself. “The Wicker Man” and “Out of the Silent Planet” contain the same hot breath and rigid notes found in songs like “22 Acacia Avenue” and “Number of the Beast,” but in a more cultivated manner. Maiden has become more refined, but still uses the same energy they have vigorously been tapping for the past 24 years, or however long it’s been. You can hear examples of this at www.ironmaiden.com (of course) and you can buy the album anywhere.