CD Review: Iron Maiden's "The Book Of Souls"

I have been an Iron Maiden fan since 1981. Through all the ups (Powerslave) and the downs (Virtual X), I have always anticipated the next Maiden album with high expectations.

Review by Christopher Bergmann

Upon the return of long-time guitarist Adrian Smith and vocalist Bruce Dickinson in 2000, a string of great albums followed, including Dance of Death, A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier (my favorite of the bunch) and Book of Souls.

With Book of Souls, the band reaches a songwriting and performance peak unlike any album before. A two CD/LP set, the band's creative output has only grown as the band members reach and surpass 60 years old. That in itself, is impressive.

The album starts with the fantastic, classic Maiden-sounding “If Eternity Should Fail,” followed by “Speed of Light,” perhaps the best opening two tracks since Powerslave and Final Frontier. The songs stay strong and original after that, with the standout tracks “Red and the Black,” “Book of Souls,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “Empire of the Sun.”

Along with an amazing song grouping, producer Kevin Shirley's approach of "recording the band in the studio live," and then adding overdubs afterward, truly captures a "live feel" that is unmatched by other producing styles... every instrument recorded separately, one at a time. That is what Maiden is supposed to sound like!

I hate to use terms like “return to form,” but if you love classic Iron Maiden at it's most creative and complex, you will simply love this album. In this reviewers opinion, The Book of Souls is the best modern Maiden release, along with the aforementioned “Final Frontier.” What's more, the limited edition box contains the album, plus a fantastic book of lore and beastly numbers. The release is also available as a 2-CD set and four-disc vinyl paqckage.